DARSHAN CHOKHANI | 4 JANUARY, 2018
Sponsors Request Pushed Force India for Name Change
The UK-based Indian team has been pondering over a team name change since last year, after potential sponsors requested for a more global label when they join hands with a Formula 1 team. The outfit started its journey as Force India Formula One Team in 2008, before it was renamed to Sahara Force India Formula One Team from 2012 after signing a deal with Sahara Pariwar.
While it is still popularly known as Force India within the F1 community, the official entry list provided by the Federation Internationale De Automobile (FIA) for the 2018 season states the team name as ‘Sahara Fore India F1 Team’, with the company name being ‘Force India Formula 1 Team Limited’.
Even though they have kept Force India for now, however, the team is looking out for a new name which will demonstrate it as a more global venture to be part of, rather than focused to one country. One of the speculated names, ‘Force One’ was in the registration process midway in 2017, but couple of hindrances forced the team to rethink over a new name.
If the above was to be confirmed, it meant ‘India’ would have been dropped from the name. When asked the team’s COO Otmar Szafnauer if the sponsors had specifically asked for the removal of ‘India’ from the name, he agreed: “Yes, a couple of potential sponsors said that if we don’t change, then we don’t come on board [with you].
“I don’t know [why?]. But I think, maybe those sponsors wanted a more global approach to what they are doing, [and] not being tied down to one country. So, they just thought if they are going to sponsor a team, they will sponsor a team which is not really tied to one country.”
Szafnauer added that they have been thinking on it, but haven’t come up with a ‘definitive list’ of names. When pressed further if they could change it totally, removing the ‘Force’ as well, he said: “I am not sure [at this moment]. I hate to yes….then it turns out as no and I hate to say no…then it turns out as yes. We haven’t decided. So, it’s hard to say.”
They believe whatever they decide will probably be known by the time they launch their 2018’s VJM11 car – which could be revealed in late January or early February. Szafnauer added that there is no deadline for them to apply for a name change to the FIA. Last year, the team launched its car at Silverstone circuit near its factory on February 22 with a grey, black and orange livery.
However, the car’s livery was changed to pink just before the season start, following its late sponsorship agreement with Best Water Technology Group (BWT). The livery for 2018 as per Szafnauer will remain the same, but ‘it will be an enhanced version’ of pink. The colour for Halo, meanwhile, hasn’t been decided - whether it will be same across all teams or they will be allowed to change as per the need.
The Vijay Mallya-led team with drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon successfully defended fourth position in the constructors’ championship in 2017 scoring 187 points, beating bigger teams like Williams, Renault and McLaren-Honda – thereby punching its way above the more heavy-budgeted teams.