Lawrence Stroll May Buy Out Force India Formula 1 Team
Force India will allegedly enter bankruptcy this week, but stay afloat with a cash infusion from the father of Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Perennial underdog Force India may have at last found a financier: The Stroll family, according to information that bubbled up over the last two weeks.
The possible sale of the team's controlling stake was initially reported earlier this month by Sunday Guardian Live, which alleged that the team's biggest shareholders Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy sought a buyer for each of their 42.5 percent stakes in the team, totaling 85 percent. No mention of a potential sale by 15 percent owner Michiel Mol was made.
Last Thursday, an Italian blogger claimed on Twitter that Lawrence Stroll would purchase shares of Force India to secure his son Lance a race seat better than that offered by Williams. He continues to claim that Force India has accepted an offer to be a junior team for Mercedes, as Toro Rosso is to Red Bull—a deal which Williams allegedly declined.
Ordinarily, the words "Italian" and "blogger" do not connote reliability, but the Stroll-Force India link was reinforced by a report from Motorsport published the same day, in which Lance Stroll was quoted speaking of his plans for 2019, skirting questions about a potential transfer to a more competitive team. Motorsport Magazine (a different publication) reiterated the link, but added that Stroll wants Williams's reserve driver and fan favorite Robert Kubica to follow him.
On their own, these sources present only circumstantial evidence of a team buyout, but more information arrived Monday morning. German tabloid Bild reported that the team would file for bankruptcy in advance of new ownership taking hold of the team, which was alleged to include four candidates: Its current sponsor BWT, an unnamed American businessman, an unnamed investment group from New York, and Lawrence Stroll. The publication also added that Stroll would settle into a cockpit warmed by Esteban Ocon, who will reportedly displace Carlos Sainz Junior from Renault, pushing the Spaniard either back to Toro Rosso or into McLaren. Bild's report was received as reliable enough to be echoed by more reputable publications.
The Drive has reached out to Lance Stroll's current team of Williams as well as Force India for comment on these developments, and we will update this story when we hear back from both.