French Formula One driver Esteban Ocon of Sahara Force India F1 Team in action during the second free practice session of the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit, in Mogyorod, Hungary, Friday, July 27, 2018. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

Force India still racing in Hungary despite court hearing

July 28, 2018 - 7:41 am

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Force India team is racing in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix despite being placed into administration amid ongoing financial problems.

The Silverstone-based team went into administration following a court hearing late Friday in London.

"We shall be engaging with key stakeholders on an urgent basis to secure the best outcome for creditors," said Geoff Rowley, representing joint administrators FRP Advisory LLP. "In the meantime, the team will continue to operate as normal, including racing in Hungary this weekend. Our aim is for business as usual whilst we assess options to secure the future of the team."

The Force India team, which is co-owned by Vijay Mallya, finished fourth in the constructors' championship last year with one of the smallest budgets in F1.

After 11 of 21 races, Force India is fifth overall so far and trails fourth-place Renault by 21 points. Mexican driver Sergio Perez and Frenchman Esteban Ocon are the team's drivers at the Hungaroring. They competed in final practice ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

On Thursday, Perez expressed his ongoing concerns by calling the financial situation "critical" as the team looks for potential buyers.

Force India reportedly owes more than 10 million pounds ($13 million) to engine supplier Mercedes, and Perez is owed 3 million pounds ($3.9 million) in sponsorship deals.

"The more money you have in this game, usually the better you do. But hopefully that will be solved soon and we'll get back to operating in the normal manner we are used to," chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said. "We are just in this critical period, which might last a week or two. We have to keep our heads down."

Szafnauer remains confident of a resolution, as F1 prepares to head into a four-week summer break following the Hungarian GP.

"I think (investment) is imminent," Szafnauer said. "I know there are discussions going on in the background."

Force India also faces uncertainty over Ocon's future.

The 21-year-old Frenchman, highly regarded in F1 and tipped as a potential future title contender, has been linked with a move to Renault.

"It's fine for him to go but we have to agree to that," Szafnauer said. "We won't stand in his way."

The championship resumes at the Belgian GP on Aug. 26.

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Jerome Pugmire is at www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

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