F1 Team Force India Finds a Buyer
There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it shines from the Great White North.
Force India faced dissolution to pay off its debtors until its driver Sergio Perez filed to put the team into administration, which allowed racing to continue while the team sought a buyer. As of Tuesday, a group of investors is ready to take control of the team, led by Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Stroll's support comes primarily from other major players in the fashion industry, including Silas Chou and John Idol, as well as Canadian energy executive Andre Desmarais, according to SkySports. Others include finance ace Michael de Picciotto, sports and telecom bigwig John McCaw Jr., and Jonathan Dudman, of Monaco Sports and Management.
The buyout ensures all the team's creditors will be paid, and that money to continue the season is secure, with all 405 team personnel retaining their jobs.
"This outcome secures the future of the Force India team in Formula 1 and will allow our team of racers to compete to our full potential," stated Otmar Szafnauer, chief of operations at Force India. "I am delighted that we have the support of a consortium of investors who believe in us as a team and who see the considerable business potential that Force India has within F1 now and in the future."
Force India, sixth at present in the Constructors' Championship, hopes to climb back up to the fourth-place position in which it has finished for the past three seasons. Szafnauer revealed to Motorsport that the team wishes to deploy delayed upgrades at the Belgian Grand Prix later this month. This, however, will depend on the availability of cash, materials, and expertise—the team must develop and construct its 2019 car while attempting to keep the VJM11 competitive with the rest of the 2018 field.
Investment into Force India by the Stroll family is expected to affect the team's driver lineup for next season. Lawrence Stroll wants his son in a car more competitive than the Williams FW41, and the announcement of a transfer to Force India for 2019 is anticipated. This will, in turn, displace one of the team's current race drivers (both of which former owner Vijay Mallya intended to retain for the 2019 season) and send tremors through the driver market.
The Drive contacted both Force India and Williams for comment on what effect this will have on their 2018 and 2019 seasons. The former has not responded, and the latter declined to issue a statement.
Also worthy of consideration is Force India's name. It considered, but ultimately decided against a change to "Force One" earlier in 2018. The team's name cannot change too drastically between seasons if the team is to keep its share of season-end prize money, though the financiers' ties to the fashion industry have us wondering if a name from the fashion or clothing industry will adorn Force India in 2019 and beyond. Perhaps Force India will become the new Benetton.