New Force India to still be known by old name - for now

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Force India
© XPB 

Otmar Szafnauer has confirmed that he wants his team to continue to be referred to as Force India by fans, at least for the rest of this season.

The team has been formally renamed Racing Point Force India after a sale of the old team's assets to a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

But Szafnauer, who has been formally appointed by the new owners as team principal in place of Vijay Mallya, said that he didn't want people to change the way they referred to the squad.

“The chassis name remains Force India,” he told Reuters on Friday at Spa-Francorchamps. "It’s the same car, same sponsors, same people, same assets that were purchased.

"I think continuity of the name is something the Formula One Group want so that it doesn’t confuse the fans.

“If the car looks the same, and has the same sponsors and same people and same drivers but you call it something different, that can be a bit confusing.

"So we will stay Force India until the end of the year. And then we decide what to call it thereafter."

Szafnauer added that it was the FIA that had requested the addition of 'Racing Point' at the start of the team's official name in order to formally differentiate it from its predecessor.

"The chassis name, which I think a lot of the journalists will still use, is Force India,” he insisted. “Like Williams Martini Racing. Nobody says that, they just say Williams."

Indeed, the old team's full name had been Sahara Force India, but that prefix hadn't been commonly used in displaying race results and points standings.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point Force India

The team had been expecting to lose all the prize money owing from the 59 championship points accrued from the first half of the 2018 season.

However a deal has now been struck which will see the new Force India team keep that money, estimated at around £50 million - but not the points. It means Force India is now at the bottom of the standings.

However drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon keep the drivers championship points they've won in the first 12 races of the season, with an opportunity to win more in the remaining nine Grand Prix events.

And Szafnauer said he was optimistic that Force India wouldn't still be at the bottom of the team standings at the end of season. They need just four points to move ahead of Williams.

“I’m pretty confident," he said. "We still have a good car, the same drivers, a good team, I’m confident we can score some points."

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