Boss defends Force India after number breach

Sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer defends Force India after the team were pulled up for not complying with new rules in Barcelona.

Sporting boss Otmar Szafnauer has defended Force India after the team were pulled up for not complying with new rules in Barcelona.

To help the fans in the grandstands and the TV audience, Formula 1 told teams that they must fit bigger numbers and the drivers' abbreviated names on their cars from Spain.

Force India argued that because of their sponsor deals with BWT and NEC, adding 'OCO' and 'PER' to their cars would be confusing.

However, it was the location of the bigger race numbers on the pink cars that actually broke the rules last weekend.

Team manager Andy Stevenson told Auto Motor und Sport: "When I stand in front of the car, I can read the number perfectly. From the grandstand too.

"From lower down it is not visible but there is nothing in the rules about that. There are perspectives with every car on which the number is not visible."

Sporting boss Szafnauer said that the entire issue is triggered by commercial considerations for the small, overachieving Silverstone-based team.

"As you know, Force India does well on the track but is not as strong in the commercial area, which is related to the way revenues are distributed in Formula 1," he said.

"But the approach of the commercial rights holders is what it is, so we have to maximise the way we work with sponsors. To do this, we need to make optimal use of the space on the car.

"Personally, I think we could come up with a better way to distinguish the cars on the track."

Force India's €25,000 (£21,400) fine was suspended.

Sergio Perez of Force India during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 28, 2016
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2Ferrari214
3Red Bull112
4Force India71
5Toro Rosso29
6Williams-Mercedes22
7Renault18
8Haas15
9Sauber4
10McLaren0
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1Sebastian VettelFerrari141
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes129
3Valtteri BottasMercedes93
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari73
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull67
6Max VerstappenRed Bull45
7Sergio PerezForce India44
8Esteban OconForce India27
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso25
10Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes20
11Nico HulkenbergRenault18
12Romain GrosjeanHaas10
13Kevin MagnussenHaas5
14Pascal WehrleinSauber4
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes2
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
18Marcus EricssonSauber0
19Jolyon PalmerRenault0
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
22Jenson ButtonMcLaren0
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