A consortium led by Lawrence Stroll has reached an agreement with Force India’s administrators to buy the team, return it to solvency and save the jobs of 405 people.
It will lead to Lance Stroll, Lawrence’s son, moving to Force India next season, but the identity of his team mate will be fascinating to decide. It could be Sergio Perez or Esteban Ocon, the current incumbents. Both would be an excellent benchmark for Stroll.
Perez brings around £12m in sponsor backing, whereas Ocon is backed by Mercedes the engine supplier and technical partner of the team. Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss will be very keen to keep Ocon in F1 now that the avenue of Renault has closed with Daniel Ricciardo’s move there.
Ocon is also Stroll Jr’s closest friend in F1, the pair having become friends during the F3 days.
With Force India entering administration on the Friday of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, the team’s future appears to be resolved after less than two weeks, which will allow the team to remain fully operational.
It reflects how attractive an option the team was as a proposition – a team that has regular punched above its weight in F1, achieving top four finishes on a fraction of the budget of the works teams and Red Bull Racing.
With part of the debt being owed to Sergio Perez’s backers, the Mexican led the action which put Force India into administration, which he was asked to do by senior members of the team, and backed by power unit suppliers Mercedes.
The deal will see Force India’s creditors paid in full, and immediate funding has been guaranteed, with the team still competing for fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Alongside Lawrence Stroll, the consortium includes Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, fashion business leader John Idol, telecommunications investor John McCaw Jr, financial expert Michael de Picciotto, and Stroll’s business partner Silas Chou.
The deal – which sees the consortium take over ownership from Vijay Mallya and Orange India Holdings Sarl – has been assisted by Force India’s chief operations officer Otmar Szafnauer and the team’s senior management.
“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,” said Szafnauer.
“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.
“At Force India, our expertise and commitment has meant that we have always punched above our weight and this new investment ensures that we have a bright future ahead of us.
“I also would like to thank Vijay, the Sahara Group and the Mol family for all of their support and taking the team as far as their circumstances would allow.”
As the father of current Williams driver Lance Stroll, Stroll Snr. has brought money to the Williams team, but he will likely have been frustrated by how much the team have under-performed this season.
He has been linked with a bid for Force India for some time, and these rumours will only have been increased by his frustrations with Williams, who are at the bottom of the constructors’ championship.
By: Luke Murphy & James Allen
All images: Motorsport Images
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