Phillips leaves Force India

Force India’s Director of Business Affairs, Ian Phillips, is leaving the Silverstone-based team after 19 years. Ian began his career as a messenger boy at Autosport magazine, driving a van that was help together by motor racing stickers. He quickly became the youngest editor of the publication and in 1976, after three years in the job, he moved to oversee the resurrection of Donington Park. After that had been achieved he became the administrator of the Gunnar Nilsson Cancer Treatment fund, in honour of his friend, before returning to journalism as a freelance reporter and public relations man – working as Autosport’s news editor in the 1980s and also as a spokesman for March Engineering, Marlboro and Bridgestone. He specialised in Formula 2 and stayed in that role until Robin Herd of Marsh Engineering asked him to be head of the company’s new March F1 team in 1987.

Ian helped to set up the team and ran it thereafter, staying on after Herd sold the operation to Leyton House Racing in 1989. He was then unlucky enough to be struck down by meningitis and before he could recover he was elbowed out of the Japanese-owned team and found refuge as the commercial manager of the new 7-Up Jordan team. He has been with the team ever since and on several occasions held it together as team owners struggled to live up to their roles. In that time Ian has been responsible for sponsorship acquisition and activation, commercial direction and ongoing negotiations with the FIA and commercial rights holder FOM and the signing of over 50 drivers.

When Vijay Mallya arrived in the team, Phillips played his usual role but the Indian team owner was upset when some media turned to Phillips rather than listening to Mallya himself.

As a personal note, it is sad to see Ian go. We worked together at Autosport in the 1980s, indeed I replaced him as news editor when he moved to March. It was always a pleasure to chat at races and hear what was going on. Ian was always up to speed on the news. It will be very interesting to see whether Force India gets caught napping or whether Mallya’s people are as effective at reading F1 politics as Ian proved to be.

There is no shortage of teams that could use his skills.

15 thoughts on “Phillips leaves Force India

  1. Besides getting meningitis, being kicked out of Leyton House and ending up at Jordan was advantageous – race wins, pole positions, fighting for a championship, world champion drivers.

    “It will be very interesting to see whether Force India gets caught napping or whether Mallya’s people are as effective at reading F1 politics as Ian proved to be.”

    Mallya has been doing F1 properly. Let’s give him benefit of the doubt for now, but egos that large are difficult to manage. Hopefully he hasn’t construed the team’s turnaround in the past two years solely as his making.

  2. Strange timing. Was half-expecting this after the nonsense over the Fisichella affair, but that was 6+ months ago now.

    Guess its too much to hope for now that he’ll end up on the BBCs radio coverage again this season, he brought something different to the commentary whenever he was involved. Otherwise dull Friday afternoon sessions wont quite be the same 🙂

  3. I really hope he stays in F1. I’d love for him to regularly pop up in the Radio Five Live commentary box again, as he did during free practices last year.

    I wonder if the Virgin team will offer him a role. I get the impression that Ian would fit rather nicely into the “irreverent” culture that Richard Branson seems to instill in his companies.

  4. Joe please tell me we haven’t seen the last of him! I was a massive fan of the Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips chequered flag podcasts (before they turned into a Force India podcast which wasn’t as great!).

    Your right though, any team on the field would find his advice priceless! Hopefully we’ll see him move over to Lotus to further build their credibility and match in commercial affairs what they’ve already achieved in the engineering department with Gascogyne.

    If you see Phillips in Bahrain or Oz buy him a pint for me, he deserves it! 🙂

  5. While it is sad to see him leave the team, I hope that this frees him up to do some media work: the Inside Line podcasts he did with Maurice Hamilton were brilliant with Ian giving his views in a very frank and honest manner. It is a shame that they are no longer produced.

    Any idea what he might be doing next?

  6. He’ll find a berth if he wants one. Meantime I’m sure he’d make a first class guest columnist for a leading electronic magazine….

  7. Such a shame to see Ian go.
    Being one of the long suffering fans of the team from Jordan and its verious name changes It was always the likes of Philips and Key and other long term staff you were greatful for the hard work putting into the team.

    I had the chance to meet Ian a couple of years back and had chance to talk about previous seasons. Always so knowledgable.

    I do wonder if this is the fallout from the Fisi to Ferrari period when Ian talked about the situation and it being a done deal, while everyone else was saying it wasnt happening.

  8. I too would like to say how much I enjoyed the the BBC red button practice sessions that featured Maurice Hamilton and Ian.

    Ian always seemed to be the steadying hand at ‘Jordan’ when each new owner turned up, but I’m not surprised at the news given the appointment of new management.

  9. Not unexpected really. One things for sure there will be no shortage of quality suitors if Ian feels he wants to crack on some more.
    You just dont find that kind of experience and class hanging off every tree.
    I’m hoping he goes back in the box for BBC Practice broadcasting.
    I’m not sad really, I think its for Ian’s best.

  10. …give Ian My regards and best wishes.
    Always a character and has a refreshing sense of humour…but don’t mention that to the the son of the police commissioner parked under Ians’ hotel room in Sao Paulo…

  11. Ian is a genuinely nice guy with a great knowledge and ‘feel’ for the politics and ever changing climate of F1. I’m sure he can get a new job if he wants one, but after such a long time traveling the world with the F1 circus, he may just feel he needs a break. If so, well he fully deserves one. I’ve been meeting him at races since 1981! Lets hope if he’s doing nothing special he can join this forum and give us his unique insights. If not he can go into broadcasting. Pension off Eddie Jordan and put Ian in his place at the BBC, I say. He’s been one of the Key (deliberate pun!) players in turning the old Jordan/Midland outfit into what are now near front runners with Force India, and it’s a shame he wont be able to ‘cash in’ on the effects of his hard work, as the team and car, having come on strong throughout pre season testing, promise much this year. I’m not sure how long Mallaya can or wants to keep the operation going, but for the present they are looking good, and I reckon Liuzzi is going to be the ‘surprise of the year’.

  12. Leo – is that you?

    Great comment about Ian taking over from Eddie Jordan. I have not heard the commentary that everybody else has commented on in relation to this article but have seen him interviewed and what we do want is some forthright opinions (not that Eddie is backward in this area – they just seem to be a bit off the wall a lot of the time!)

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