Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya revealed earlier this week the shareholders, himself included, are considering dropping the ‘Force India’ name in an effort to attract newer, international sponsors.
“There are some people who believe the current name Force India is restrictive psychologically,” Mallya admitted to Motorsport.com over the issue on June 15th.
The major Force India shareholder originally brought the Spyker Formula 1 team for the 2008 season and rebranded it as ‘Force India.’ This was done, according to Motorsport.com, “to attract Indian sponsors and bring an Indian driver into F1.”
And, despite Indian drivers Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan both driving in the sport during Mallya’s stint as an owner – neither has ever driven for Force India.
Throughout Mallya’s comments, his allusion is quite clearly that the rebranding could be happened because of Force India’s newfound form; this saw them finish a record P4 in the 2016 Constructors Championship.
As a matter of fact, the team have managed incredibly to keep that 2016 form going with the major regulation upheaval in 2017. After seven rounds of the season, the team still sit in fourth, comfortably 42 points ahead of fifth placed Toro Rosso.
So, despite this apparent prosperity, why would you even need to change the name? The team is, in actual fact, majorly more international this year than previous. This can be proved by the stream of considerable non-Indian sponsors for the 2017 season, which include: Hype Energy Drinks, Quaker State, FXTM and Breast Cancer Care.
Crucially, however, the best example to prove Force India’s attainment of international sponsorship deals is their newest deal with European water specialists, BWT. This saw the historically Indian colored cars (inspired by major Indian sponsors Kingfisher and Sahara) changed to BWT’s signature pink color.
So, if Force India is already ‘internationalizing’ themselves – why do they want, and need, to go further?
Well, like most things in life, it’s probably likely to do with the money. Coincidentally, in the week before the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix, Vijay Mallya hit out at Gene Haas after the latter defended Formula 1’s current payment system, which somewhat benefits big manufacturers such as Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Anybody looking at the income distribution pattern of F1 will immediately, without even being prompted, realise how lopsided it all is,” Mallya told Autosport on June 2nd.
For perspective, Force India was payed 72 million dollars in prize money in 2016. By comparison, Ferrari, who finished just one place ahead of Force India in the Constructors World Championship, received 180 million dollars, a difference of 102 million. This is because, merely as an example, Ferrari receive a ‘Longstanding Team Bonus’ worth 68 million purely because, well, they’re Ferrari!
This, in-of-itself, is evidence as to why Mallya would want to re-profile his Formula 1 team.
He wants to drop the Indian theme from Force India to attract more international sponsors in hopes of covering the ever-expanded costs of running a team in this sport. With limited prize money – the funds have to come from somewhere!
Therefore, in absolute conclusion, expect no holding back from Force India when it comes to rebranding for money.
By – Steven Walton