The inter-team troubles started during the Australian V-Prix, when Sikes, then running in 5th and on a different tyre strategy, was held up by Nowosinki on track, ultimately costing the Russian three positions in the span of two laps. With the team scoring their maiden points as a constructor, and running strongly with the established teams
throughout, the incident was left as something of an afterthought.
The Malaysian V-Prix saw a dip in fortunes for North Star, Nowosinki managing to salvage a point in 10th, but it was what happened between then and the Japanese V-Prix that seems to have exacerbated tensions.
It has been speculated that the plan was initially for reserve driver Gabriele García to replace Judson Sikes in Friday practice that weekend, which would have seen Nowosinki running alongside him. However, following a drastic slump in performance for Sikes in Malaysia, the decision was made for Nowosinki to sit the Friday out instead and have García run alongside Sikes, as the team would endeavour to resolve the Russian's lack of pace.
Troubles continued at the Chinese V-Prix weekend, as a minor update to the BMW engine in Nowosinki's car failed on arrival at the circuit, leaving the Pole on the sidelines for the second Friday in succession, with some claiming accusations of favouritism towards Sikes have been heard from Nowosinki, others saying Sikes believes his teammate has been deliberately compromising his races.
North Star team principal Nick Forrest was quick to scotch those comments when they were put to him by journalists. "That's absolutely not the case," he explained, "We do everything we can to give the guys a level playing field. Sometimes things do go wrong for one reason or another, and it's up to us to work out why that is, rather than throwing out that sort of ridiculous idea."
Forrest did concede, though, that the relationship between the two drivers had grown increasingly frosty since the start of the season, and he was exploring a number of options to come to a solution. "I don't think anything's off the table at this point, necessarily," he continued, "We've got to find some way of banging these guys' heads together. They're supposed to be fighting other teams instead of each other, and it is costing us results, there's no doubt about that."
Asked if the solution was to change its driver line-up, Forrest admitted that it might be possible. "There's an awful lot of very talented drivers out there that could help us move forward, definitely, and it's something we absolutely need to be looking at. If not this year, then at least for 2018."