Force India’s future has finally been resolved after the FIA agreed to allow the team to re-enter the Formula 1 world championship under a new entry.
The team’s immediate future was unclear following revelations the Lawrence Stroll-led consortium which was initially believed to have purchased the team had in fact only bought the team’s assets.
It created the unusual situation where the original team, Force India Formula One Team Limited, held the rights to compete in the championship and a new company, Racing Point, in possession of all the Formula 1 team’s assets.
The FIA has since confirmed that it has accepted a new entry from Racing Point Force India, due to the fact the Force India Formula One Team Limited was in breach of Article 8.2 of the sporting regulations, which states that teams should participate in every event.
As the team was not able to do that, but the required guarantees could be met by Racing Point Force India, the FIA has accepted the mid-season entry of the ‘new’ team.
However the new entry comes with a catch, as since it is regarded as a new team into the championship it will not have ‘Force India’s’ constructors’ championship points.
A quirk of the process though means that, as the car has been homologated as a ‘Force India’, the new team must include that in its name in order to satisfy the regulations surrounding the team being a constructor, and therefore be eligible for constructors’ points.
As a result, the ‘all-new’ Racing Point Force India squad enters the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend without a point to its name, which neatly sidesteps problems relating to prize money as the new team will not be eligible for the money the previous entry would have been entitled to.
“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,” said F1 chairman Chase Carey.
“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.”
Though the team now sits 10th and last in the constructors’ championship, Racing Point’s team principal Otmar Szafnauer believes the outcome is positive as it’s saved the jobs of Force India’s more than 400 staff.
“The new Racing Point Force India Team is delighted to be able to race when the championship resumes in Belgium this weekend,” Szafnauer said.
“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.”
A subsequent release from the team confirmed that, with the exception of Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley, Racing Point and its management structure will be identical to the team it has replaced.
“On Monday I stood in front of the workforce at Silverstone and Brackley and applauded the achievements of this team in recent years,” said Lawrence Stroll.
Stroll leads the investors in the team, which include Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, fashion business leader John Idol, telecommunications investor John McCaw Jnr, financial expert Michael de Picciotto, along with Stroll and his business partner Silas Chou.
“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,” Stroll added.
“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.”