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Formula 1

Former Force India F1 chief Fernley dies aged 70

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Bob Fernley, best known for effectively running the Force India Formula 1 team for much of the 2010s, has died at the age of 70.

Fernley’s long motorsport career encompassed the Ensign F1 team and stints in Can-Am and IndyCar teams in the 1980s, before he joined Force India when Vijay Mallya created it for 2008 via the acquisition of Spyker.

Though Fernley was officially deputy team principal, with Mallya rarely in attendance at races Fernley became the most visible public face of the Force India project as it turned into a respected upper midfielder and occasional podium contender over the next decade.

He left the team when its assets were purchased by the Lawrence Stroll-led consortium and it was relaunched as Racing Point during 2018.

Fernley then headed the 2019 iteration of McLaren’s IndyCar project, when it partnered with Carlin for an Indianapolis 500 bid with Fernando Alonso but failed to qualify.

His final top-level motorsport involvement was replacing Stefano Domenicali as head of the FIA Single-Seater Commission when Domenicali became F1 chief at the end of 2020. He stepped down from that role in early 2022, with Giancarlo Minardi taking his place.

Domenicali paid tribute to Fernley.

“I am saddened to hear the news that Bob Fernley has passed away,” he said. “He was such an important part of Formula 1 and his love and passion for the sport will live forever. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.”

Fernley had also established his own foundation to assist young engineering talent in partnership with the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at the University of Bolton.

Bob Fernley Force India F1

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