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2018 F1

Force India to now race as Racing Point Force India

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As Force India went into administration on the 27th July, a potential name changes and structural change hampered its mid-season progress and questioned its future for the 2018 season. The team arrived at the Belgium Grand Prix with the Force India name removed from its motorhome and branding in their garage. However, the FIA confirmed today that they have accepted the team’s mid-season entry under the name Racing Point Force India and their world governing body will safeguard jobs and ensure that the team will continue to participate on a ‘fair and an equitable basis’.

The entry of ‘Sahara Force India F1 team’ is now excluded from the event entry list according to the judicial and disciplinary rules of the sport, which means the team will lose its points and start at the bottom of the grid. According to the FIA entry list the drivers will retain their car numbers 11 for Sergio Perez and 31 for Esteban Ocon and the points they have earned this season.

The sale of all assets of the business Sahara Force India formula 1 team have been now sold to Racing Point UK Limited, which comprises a group of investors lead by Lawrence Stroll and the senior management of the team. The current buyout of the team has saved approximately 400 jobs and ensured their participation through the rest of the season.

Commenting on the developments, F1 Chairman and CEO, Chase Carey said “We are very pleased that the situation around Racing Point Force India has been resolved and that the team will continue to race in Formula 1. It is also very gratifying that in partnership with the stakeholders involved we have been able to safeguard the livelihoods of the many hundreds of people working at its Silverstone base. It’s enormously important that we have a full grid of competitive, capable teams in Formula 1 and we are confident that Racing Point Force India will go from strength to strength in the future”.

The sale of business assets of the Force India team to Racing Point UK Limited was executed by Joint Administrators Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker of FRP Advisory LLP in collaboration with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). One of the joint administrators Rowley commented “This has been a complex process, but as a result of following a detailed and thorough procedure we have achieved a successful outcome. Under its new ownership, the team will now be able to operate to its full potential and its future is secured.”

According to the press release Otmar Szafnauer, who was previously the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Force India has now been named Team Principal and CEO of Racing Point UK Limited. This also means Robert Fernley will no longer be a part of the team, after serving as Team Principal of the Silverstone outfit since 2018. Fernley’s absence from the Hungarian GP weekend was duly noted by many, and was followed by the announcement of the team going into administration.

Szafnauer said “He confirmed Fernley’s departure saying “We have a great management team in place and this stability will be extremely valuable as we begin the new era. I would like to thank Bob Fernley for his contribution to the success of this team over the last ten years and recognise the support of the previous shareholders for making Force India what it is today.”

Speaking of the new developments he added, “The new Racing Point Force India Team is delighted to be able to race when the championship resumes in Belgium this weekend. This heralds a new and exciting chapter for us. Just a few weeks ago, an uncertain future lay ahead, with more than 400 jobs at risk; now the new team has the backing of a consortium of investors, led by Lawrence Stroll, who believe in us as a team, in our expertise and in our potential to achieve success on the track. We are grateful to the FIA, the Joint Administrators and Formula One Management for their support in helping us achieve such a welcome outcome and ultimately, we trust, for the sport and its many fans.”

With more than 400 jobs at risk and employees concerned about their future, the current move has assured to safeguard those concerns and ensure a smooth transition of the business dealings. Speaking at the FIA press conference Esteban Ocon however did mention it was hard to keep focus on the racing with his future in concern. The teams current name also means the possibility of a new lineup in the future. With Lawrence Stroll as one of the investors, it could mean a move for Lance Stroll to the team, and Sergio Perez could be possibly retained due to his strong Mexican financial support.

Lawrence Stroll said “On Monday I stood in front of the workforce at Silverstone and Brackley and applauded the achievements of this team in recent years. The strength of any company is the people that make it up and it’s a huge privilege to begin this exciting new journey with such a talented group of men and women. I’ve been fortunate to establish and grow a number of successful businesses, but the opportunity to take this team forward to the next level is perhaps the most exciting challenge yet. Together with my fellow shareholders, we will invest in new resources and bring fresh energy to empower the workforce to continue racing at the very highest level. We are all passionate about motor racing; we recognise the racers’ spirit in Force India, and we are extremely motivated to make this team even more special in the years ahead.”

The Silverstone team followed a statement after FIA has confirmed Robert Fernley;s departure and the names of their new investors as Andre Demerais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, fashion business leader John Idol, telecommunications investor John McCaw Jr, financial expert Michael de Picciotto, businessman Lawrence Stroll and his business partner Silas Chou. Apart from Bob Fernely’s role the rest of the senior management of the team remains to be the same.

The Silverstone outfit has originally raced under the name of Jordan Grand Prix and was sold to the Midland Group in 2005 and later solder to a company called Spyker at the end of the 2006 season. The team was acquired by Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya and the Orange India Holdings Group in 2008 for 88 million Euros. With a rough 2018 season for the team, it has finally made its transition to its new name, and by 2019 one could see them enter as Racing Point F1 team, minus Force India in their name.

For the average Indian Formula 1 fan this will probably be the departure of the word India from Formula 1. Mallya’s own financial woes hampered the running of the team and lead to severe financial and functional problems. Although he remained Team Principal and owner of the team, during his exile in the UK, the tricolours of the Indian flag on the team livery still had some Indian presence in the sport. This might leave Tata Communications as the only Indian entity in Formula One as the official communications partner of F1.

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