A detailed affiliate of Vijay Mallya, Fernley held the position on the Silverstone workforce from its first season below the Drive India title in 2008 till the summer season of 2018, when Lawrence Stroll purchased the property of the corporate and relaunched it as Racing Level.
A local of Stockport, Fernley had an preliminary involvement with F1 by way of the Ensign workforce within the early Nineteen Eighties, serving to shut buddy Jim Crawford to the 1982 British championship title.
The pair then moved to CanAm collection, the place Crawford completed runner-up in 1983 and 1984 with a transformed Ensign.
Fernley was additionally concerned with IndyCar efforts within the Nineteen Eighties, together with working the Canadian Tire workforce with Jacques Villeneuve Sr, and the Mike Curb entry for Ed Pimm within the 1986 Indianapolis 500.
He then labored outdoors racing for a few years, with one mission involving introducing carbonfibre know-how to the Chinese language house programme, and one other the Danish fishing trade. He was additionally concerned within the resort enterprise.
It was his shut friendship with Mallya that introduced him again to worldwide motorsport after the Indian businessman purchased the previous Spyker workforce in late 2007.
In essence, Fernley served as Mallya’s eyes and ears on the observe and within the Silverstone manufacturing unit. He was largely accountable for the workforce’s dealings with the FIA, the System 1 organisation and the media.
Drive India completed a lowly tenth on this planet championship in its first season with Ferrari energy in 2008, earlier than forging a brand new partnership with Mercedes the next 12 months. Pole place for Giancarlo Fisichella on the 2009 Belgian GP was an early spotlight, with the Italian ending the race in second place.
Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) F1 Supremo talks with Robert Fernley (GBR) Drive India F1 workforce principal
Photograph by: Sutton Pictures
Others to drive for the workforce over its decade of existence have been Tonio Liuzzi, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, whereas George Russell carried out his early F1 testing and FP1 working with the workforce.
Beneath Fernley and chief working officer Otmar Szafnauer, the workforce made regular progress and outperformed rivals with greater budgets, reaching fifth place in 2015 after which incomes fourth in each 2016 and 2017.
Nevertheless funding was getting tighter and tighter and with Mallya concerned in authorized issues in his dwelling nation the workforce reached a disaster level in the summertime of 2018.
The workforce went into administration and throughout the summer season break after the Hungarian GP when Stroll acquired the property and relaunched it as Racing Level, Fernley’s involvement ended instantly.
In 2019 Fernley made an surprising return to Indianapolis having been engaged by McLaren to supervise its 500 entry with Fernando Alonso. Sadly it was not a profitable enterprise and the Spaniard didn’t qualify.
Later Fernley had a spell as the top of the FIA’s single-seater fee, having changed Stefano Domenicali within the position. He was succeeded by former F1 team boss Giancarlo Minardi in 2022.
Fernley was additionally concerned in selling younger engineering expertise via an affiliation with the Nationwide Centre for Motorsport Engineering on the College of Bolton. In 2019 the institution awarded him an honorary doctorate for providers to engineering.
With the assistance of scholars, Fernley additionally ran a 1981 Ensign N180B in historic occasions. Three-time F1 race winner Johnny Herbert was amongst these to have pushed it.
Talking to Autosport after the information of Fernley’s loss of life broke, present Alpine F1 workforce principal Szafnauer paid tribute to his former colleague.
Bob Fernley, Deputy Group Principal, Drive India, within the workforce principals Press Convention
Photograph by: Alastair Staley / Motorsport Images
“I used to be saddened to listen to the information from Vijay and my honest condolences exit to his household,” mentioned the American.
“When Vijay could not actually be with the workforce that a lot due to his enterprise and IPL pursuits and so forth Bob at all times would inform us what Vijay would need in sure conditions, which was very useful.
“He allowed the remainder of the organisation to deal with the job at hand of racing, getting the automotive higher, hiring the folks, and he would take care of all of the politics. That was actually his largest position and his largest contribution.
“He was nonetheless a comparatively younger man, and I am shocked. Our racing group has misplaced a very good man.”