Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

On This Day: 9th September 2006 - Midland become Spyker // The team changes that occurred before Force India arrived

Published by Christine

Spyker F1 go to work, US Grand Prix 2007
Spyker F1 go to work, US Grand Prix 2007Credit: CC : Flickr / ktpupp

I have always loved the tale of how Jordan became Force India - through Midland F1 and Spyker. I like that a team can continue onwards even when the owners choose to say goodbye. It happens a lot, I know, but the Force India tale is an epic one. Jordan quit the sport in 2005, and the Midland outfit took over for just one solitary season. Canadian Alex Shnaider headed up the Midland Group, who saved the ailing team, but his support only lasted for a year. By the end of 2006, the team were sold again, to Dutch car manufacturer Spyker.

Directly after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, the announcement came that Spyker had taken full control of the team. Shnaider said it had not been an easy decision but he was happy with what he'd accomplished in his short realm at the helm.

I am proud to be leaving the team in a much better state than it was when we acquired it 20 months ago. Not only is it more financially stable, it is also more competitive at the track, and getting stronger all the time.

- Alex Shnaider

If by competitive, he means that they finished more races than they retired from, then he certainly had achieved something. He added that the new owners had ambitious plans, and he was happy to hand over to them for the next phase. Happy, indeed, that the team were valued at $106.6 million USD.

The handover to become Spyker was a strange one, as the team started the Italian GP weekend as Midland and overnight became Spyker - trying to include the orange branding of their new owners, whilst surreptitiously getting rid of the remaining traces of MF1 Racing. They couldn't work wonders with the team name, though, and had to settle for adding Spyker as a chief sponsor to the beginning. Welcome, then, Spyker MF1 Racing. Weird.

They immediately announced Mike Gascoyne as their new Chief Technology Officer. Mike had been out of the F1 loop for a little bit, ousted by Toyota after disagreeing with his bosses. Gascoyne had been part of the Jordan team previously, so it was a bit of a homecoming for him, although he was back under the instruction of a car manufacturer team - with a parent company to answer to.

Spyker cars did not sell well, and the company appeared to be in trouble. After a single season in F1, where they changed drivers more times than I thought possible, the manufacturer wanted to split from the sport. Selling up seemed to be the only option, and that ushered in the age of Force India.

Still, Spyker didn't do too badly in the time they graced F1's paddocks. Despite the unsettled nature of the team, they helped Marcus Winkelhock lead a race. There was rain involved, some strategy and an awful lot of luck, plus it didn't last long at all, but even so... MF1 Racing could only dream of leading a race. Later in the year they picked up their only championship point. That was really the result of another driver getting a penalty and being demoted but even so... MF1 Racing could only dream of a single point. There's a lot more about what Spyker did and didn't manage to achieve in this mini series episode dedicated to the team.

Suffice it to say that Alex Shnaider said he was handing Midland over to begin the next phase of the team's comeback to glory. With a boost from Spyker, and Force India's slow but sure progression through the field, it seems like he did the right thing.