November 23, 2018 / 6:46 PM / 20 days ago

Haas say Force India protest is about equal treatment

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Haas’s protest of Formula One rivals Force India is about ensuring all teams are treated equally, team boss Guenther Steiner said on Friday.

Formula One F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 23, 2018 Haas' Kevin Magnussen during practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards heard from both sides and said they would deliberate on the matter with no decision expected before Saturday, when final practice and qualifying are scheduled.

Stewards have not given a reason for the protest, and Steiner did not want to go into the details, but Haas and Force India have been at odds over the latter’s eligibility for millions of dollars in prize money payments.

“What we are seeking is equality for all the teams,” said Steiner, whose team have a close technical relationship with Ferrari and have Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean as drivers.

“We came in (to Formula One) under certain circumstances,” added Steiner. “We were aware of what we had to do. We did it all. And we feel that this was not done this time with Force India.”

Mercedes-powered Force India went into administration at the end of July and emerged in August as a new entry after being taken over by a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, whose son Lance is set to join from Williams.

U.S.-owned Haas had to go two years without so-called “column one” money after entering the sport in 2016 because the rules state payments are dictated by performance over previous seasons.

Asked why Haas had waited until the final race to take action, rather than at the end of August, Steiner said there had been an attempt to find an amicable solution but had not been given any answer.

“So at a certain point you need to do what you need to do,” he said.

“The problem is maybe bigger than Force India. We are just seeking that everybody is treated equally. That is the only thing we are seeking.

“We are not trying to get more, we are just trying that everybody which is in this position also in the future knows what they are going to do. You need to sort the precedent out so the future is not tainted.”

Force India team boss Otmar Szafnauer said the protest had come as a bit of a surprise.

“In a way it’s good that all of the information can be presented to the stewards and in due course I think they’ll make a very informed decision,” he added.

Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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