Bob Fernley, the former head of the Force India Formula 1 team, has died at the age of 70.

Fernley’s motorsport career spanned several decades in which he managed racing teams, both in the USA and Europe.

His most prominent role came when he joined Force India in 2008, a team established by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya.

Although his official role was the Deputy Team Principal, Fernley was the spokesperson for the squad as team boss Mallya rarely attended races.

During the 2010s, Force India became known as the sport’s successful underdogs as it tended to score strong results despite operating on a limited budget compared to its rivals.

Fernley left the team midway through the 2018 season, when a Lawrence Stroll-led consortium took it over and rebranded the squad to Racing Point.

He then headed McLaren’s 2019 IndyCar project with the car being driven by Fernando Alonso – however, the Spaniard failed to qualify for the race.

Fernley took up a position within the FIA, replacing Stefano Domenicali as head of the FIA Single-Seater Commission when Domenicali took on the role of F1 CEO in 2020.

Taking to social media on Friday, Domenicali paid tribute to his peer: “I am saddened to hear the news that Bob Fernley has passed away. 

“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.”

Esteban Ocon, who worked under Fernley at Force India, added: “Sad to hear about the passing of Bob Fernley today. 

“He was a great person and leader, and I was lucky enough to work and learn from him during my days at Force India. Sending my thoughts and condolences to his family and friends.”

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