Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium - The renamed Force India Formula One team will start from zero at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix after being stripped of its Constructors’ championship points and accepted as a new mid-season entry. Force India was previously sixth in the championship.
The new team, controlled by a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, will be called Racing Point Force India. The governing International Automobile Federation said, however, that Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon will keep their Drivers' points. Otmar Szafnauer has been appointed principal, with former deputy principal Bob Fernley departing.
The FIA said:on Friday: “The Sahara Force India F1 Team has accepted its exclusion from the 2018 Formula One World Championship with immediate effect, and forfeits all Constructors’ Championship points. The joint administrators have completed the sale of the business and its assets to Racing Point UK Limited, the investment consortium led by Lawrence Stroll and the team’s senior management.”
Force India, co-owned by financially troubled Indian magnate Vijay Mallya, went into administration at the end of July with a rescue deal announced on 7 August. While that secured the survival of the team, legal complications led to speculation it might be unable to race at Spa this weekend.
Media reports indicated that while Stroll had purchased the physical assets, including the cars and factory, ownership of the entry that confers the right to race had yet to be transferred. The old team’s exclusion from the championship will also carry a significant financial cost for the team and a bonus for others, with prize money calculated by championship standings over several seasons.
FIA president Jean Todt said: “I am very pleased that a strong, positive outcome has been reached and welcome the mid-season entry of Racing Point Force India. "Creating an environment of financial stability in Formula One is one of the key challenges faced by the sport; now we have a situation that safeguards the future for all of the highly-talented employees, and will maintain the fair and regulated championship competition for the second half of the season.”
Szafnauer said the agreement was the start of a new chapter for a Silverstone-based team that has been through many incarnations since starting out as the now-defunct Jordan.
“Just a few weeks ago, an uncertain future lay ahead, with more than 400 jobs at risk,” said the Romanian-born American. “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.”