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Force India F1 Team saved by Stroll backed consortium – who’ll drive there?
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Posted By: Editor   |  08 Aug 2018   |  10:00 am GMT  |  214 comments

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

What are your thoughts on the Force India takeover? Leave your comments in the section below.

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1

Stroll came up through the minor formulas, and won a good deal of what was on offer.

His Dad is a billionaire, so what? He’s now bought team, so what? You pays your money, you takes your pick. That’s life.

Stroll Junior might be a tool but he’s hardly been given the best equipment at Williams and has the means to move up through the grid by purchasing better circumstances. So what?

He’ll reach the peak of abilities one way or the other, LIKE EVERY OTHER F1 DRIVER OUT THERE. If he regularly beats the best in a Force India, he’ll be in a Ferrari or Mercedes shortly thereafter. LIKE EVERY OTHER F1 DRIVER OUT THERE.

2

Stroll is a mediocre driver, let’s face it. He came through the junior formulas with more backing than anyone else. Daddy paid for more test drives than anyone else had, paid for the the best teams, the best people and the best equipment. It’s not that he has no talent at all, but with enough backing a mediocre driver will be able to beat the better ones who did not get the best teams, the best technicians and the best equipment and the extra testing time. The extra opportunity makes a difference and eventually he got the title.

And while he came into F1 with again more test drives and better preparation than any other rookie of his era, you can see that he got schooled by old Massa, number two to Schumacher and just slightly better than Bottas who is a clear number two to Hamilton.

Even worse: Stroll did not showing any improvement over Massa throughout the season and this year another driver, Sirotkin, not an exceptional talent either, on far less preparation, is making him look pretty ordinary.

You could guess that a top driver would easily win 3 to 4 tenths of a second over Stroll on a qualifying lap and show much more consistency and speed over a full race.

Alas, if Stroll’s money would give Williams the budget to gain 5 tenths of a second on their car, it’s still a win. But I doubt that this is a good strategy in the long run. But since Williams seem to be in survival mode it’s not that they have a choice.

3

It is interesting that both force India and the House of fraser have both gone into administration and the very next second they are both purchased by interested parties. Is thos a Knock down way of buying companies and not being resposible for all the debts?

4
Alianora La Canta

I don’t know in House of Fraser’s case, but not in Force India’s situation. The buyers have been quoted as accepting, and being willing to pay for, all the debts involved. There is no Marussia-style CVA involved to reduce the extent of that debt. The offer was that good.

5

Rob, it’s a way of buying companies at a massive discount. Mike Ashley and Lawrence Stroll both dealt with the administrator, not the previous owners, this means that as long as the price offered was enough to clear the debts, then the administrator is happy, anything over and above that is just gravy.

It’s an interesting comparison as both deals were for a similar amount, around the 90 million mark, but while Force India has 405 employees, House of Fraser has seventeen thousand! I guess this disparity in company size reflects the guaranteed revenue that an F1 team generates. It should also be noted that HOF was purchased by its current owners (a Chinese investment group) for 450 million four years ago, and the 90 million that Mike paid will mostly go to the creditors. And people say F1 is a waste of money!!

6

#Tim it get’s spookily more connected than you think

Stroll buys FI to give his son a job and Ashley buys HOF to give future son in law a job

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6051267/Mike-Ashleys-ex-nightclub-boss-son-law-28-holds-House-Frasers-future-hands.html

7

Great post thanks mate, we’ll explained.

8

Have the new owners bought 100% of the stakes, or does Vijay retain some?

Does this also mean Vijay will no longer officially be the team principal anymore? If not, who will?

9

Ja, Vijay is out, the company was effectively taken out of his hands when it entered administration.

10

Where does this leave Williams, I wonder ?

We can only hope that they produce a half decent car for 2019 and Sir Frank insists that they buy in a fast, experienced development driver to accompany Sirotkin who, unlike Stroll, has given us some indication that he might just be a good find, worthy of a seat.

While he is at it, Sir Frank should also send his daughter on indefinite maternity leave and appoint someone like Pat Symonds to run the team.

If he doesn’t, I fear that my favourite team might not survive the season.

11

Clearly Force India is going to be well funded and could have a very real chance of improving its position in the championship next year however that is unlikely with Stroll as one of the drivers.

They will need someone better than Perez to make up the points deficit from Stroll’s side of the garage but can Stroll Snr afford to put a very fast driver in the second seat when that driver is likely to show up his son for the lightweight he undoubtedly is ?

12

Everyone surprised that FI went into administration despite lean structure and succcess on track and in attracting sponsors? I am not. Just research their previous swindler owner and you’ll be surprised no longer.

I am really happy that parasite is gone from F1. I remember a few years ago reading an article on how quickly F1 teams settle their suppliers bills. RB was only Team to pay immediately i.e. well before due date, most teams either on due date or 2-3 days after, two teams up to 30 days late and FI almost a year after due date! A year! VJ was private jetting around the world, investing left, right, and centre, rubbing it in by wearing his body weight (substantial) in gold jewellery on him at all times while small business owners who supplied them with drinks, catering, accommodation, etc. were under cash flow strain and were probably forced to chase, bag, etc.for a few thousands thet were make or break to them. And it wasn’t like VJ was broke at the time, this was just his ‘business practice’. Good that such a swindler was flushed out.

13

Sadly it is a recurring theme with VJ and appears to be cultural. The domestic airline he ran collapsed after VJ repeatedly withheld wages from his workers on several occasions. I have had the unfortunate experience of working with two different firms, one where the owner withheld pay at the end of the contract until compelled by threat of legal action to remit payment. The other firm withheld payroll for six months and only made payments after legal intervention.

I have never had similar experiences working for business owners from other cultures.

14

They were a bit vague in the press release.Maybe he’s still in there somewhere lol.

15

Maybe Vijay will be President Emertitus like Bernie!

16

So who is now going to rescue Williams?

17

There are some lessons here.Force india had every sponsor sticker going on the car. Was an agile well run (yawn) little outfit but still was a basket case.
You wonder how much of the money went to pay dubious non F1 expenses.
Meanwhile Williams is what is known as a well run racing team with a limited budget.
Yes they will feel discomfort from losing Martini but I doubt they got that much in terms of todays sponsorship world.
A couple of well funded drivers should see them through till the end of the concord agreement and a new deal.
They are probably lucky to lose a quite average driver they were compelled to run.
New owners with some big plans and the cash to realize them is what F1 has been missing for years and it may encourage similar folk to jump on board.

18
Alianora La Canta

Note that “limited budget” in Williams’ case includes a £10 m CCB payment connected to “historical” success, and about 50% higher budget overall, than Force India. It’s not really a good comparison point. The one team with a definitely lower budget – until this year – was Sauber.

19

If Stroll is really smart, he’ll hire Suzie Wolff as the reserve driver for his team!

20

Whilst I think it is great that FI has been saved, I don’t get how the whole business model is sustainable. From all accounts it was a well run team reasonable scoring points and finishing above better funded outfits, and yet it still fell into administration. Clearly the costs are out of control, 405 staff, on my understanding other than the design and the composite work, pretty much everything else done by outside sub-contractors, what do these 405 people do? What happens when Stroll moves on? This is a temporary reprieve and no sustainable solution.

21

Spot on. Its a team known for punching above its weight (getting better results with limited resources) and yet has had to rely on shareholder loans. And once those dried up, it ran our of cash my mid-season.

22

All this speculation from fans about the new team name.

If the team cannot lay claim to any previously earned prize money if they change the team name, especially after those three teams objected, there is no motivation to change the name.

I’m not aware of any particular necessity to change anything. All the creditors are being paid in full, so there is no need to change anything to try to avoid any existing debts.

23
Alianora La Canta

Other than Force India, on a Canadian team, probably feels a bit ridiculous to Lance Stroll. Especially since no other team was expected to jump these hoops regarding team name.

24

#Torchwood. The team ( not the parent company that was owed £150m) went into administration. At that point there are no debts just creditors. The administrator then tries to secure the best deal for the creditors He could ( for example) change the team name because the old one has value . But changing the name has no difference on the process or any creditors. In this case the creditors are getting 100% so looks good.

However the deal was done very quickly so due diligence could not have been fully completed. The set up of FI was such that it did not own all the assets instead renting them off the parent company. Hence the name Force India or the web address or web site may not have been owned by the team and may or may not have been transfered / sold / gifted across. I doubt such an obvious gaff would have been made but expect something left field sooner or later.

25

the deal was done very quickly so due diligence could not have been fully completed.

Really? How daft do you think the multi billionaire Lawrence Stroll is when it comes to business deals? I’m thinking he and his partners are likely to be pretty switched on. They’ve clearly been working on this deal for ages and just waiting for the company to go into administration – which it did with a helpful push from Chico (and some much bigger creditors who were whispering in his ear) and there they were, ready and waiting to step in with their offer which was eagerly accepted.

26

#C63. I refer you to Lloyds HBOS takover for how to get due diligence wrong when a deal is rushed through.

No I do not think these guys a daft neither do I think the UK courts would smile at an official receiver entering negotiations before being appointed.

And yes I think this deal smells a bit fishy. But we will probably never know the fine print and how much the holding company ( VJ) handed over to get the £150m he was owed or indeed if he got more than the debt amount.

As to Chico .,well it is widely reported that his action was to override a winding up order before the courts that would have seen an immediate cessation of operations. Does anyone know who was behind that winding up order that started this all? Now there is your conspiracy theory.

27

Jon. The original winding up petition was filed by HMRC, this debt was apparently settled but the action was then joined by Perez so the hearing was adjourned without any winding up order being granted. This delay to proceedings gave time for the Stroll deal to be put together and led to the team going into administration, but not being wound up. It seems that Mercedes supported Checo in this action as it led to the change of ownership that everyone except Vijay wanted. Merc were owed 13m, Perez was owed 4m, as I understand it the debt owed to Perez would have to have been paid in full by any new owner as he was the petitioner, but the larger debt to Merc could have been negotiated seperately as they hadn’t directly applied for it.

The team desperately needed a new owner, there was no investment forthcoming from Vijay and his ongoing legal troubles and fugitive from justice status was embarrassing for the sport, the only stumbling block was the 250m asking price. Mallya wouldn’t budge on that price, and nobody wanted to pay it. The total 43m owed to outside creditors wasn’t that large in F1 terms, (Vijay keeps insisting that he is owed 150m, but he has no chance of getting himself included in the list of creditors that he owes money to) so the team could have plodded on in its previous state for a long time, just paying little supplier debts here and there and taking advantage of the fact that the big debts to their driver and engine supplier won’t be chased too hard as the driver wants to drive and Merc don’t want to generate bad press by pulling the supply.

Mallya could have dealt with Lawrence Stroll himself, but his asking price was too high and so he ended up getting his hand forced and came away with a lot less than he could have done, he should have done the deal when it was offered. It’s a win all round situation for everyone except Vijay, the team get more money to develop the car, Checo gets his wages, Mercedes and all the little guys get their invoices paid and Liberty and the FIA have a team owned by a respectable group of people rather than a man on the run with warrants out for his arrest!

28

@Jon

Maybe I was a bit snitty with you in my initial reply and, if I was then I apologise. It was just the suggestion that you might have spotted a flaw in the bid from Stroll and partners that I thought was a bit much. It’s the sort of thing which is often bandied around on these sort of forums, and the idea that someone not directly involved in the negotiations is going to spot a gaff that the likes of Stroll and Co missed is laughable – those guys didn’t get to be so rich because they are dim and get tucked up in business deals by missing huge great elephant traps.

Anyway, as for dealing with the administrators prior to them being appointed – why would they need to do that? They could have been conducting their due diligence much earlier as the team has been up for sale for a while – so they knew what they were getting into. It was just the inflated price that VJ wanted which meant they were better off waiting until the administrators were appointed and dealt with them instead – this is where Chico comes in. According to reports I read, Chico was encouraged to take his action with the support of the FI management and also Mercedes. But as Mercedes did not want to be seen directly taking action against a competitor, they used Chico as a stalking horse. All sorted, Stroll gets an F1 team at a knockdown price, 450 jobs and the team are safe, creditors get paid off and the F1 circus moves onto Spa – oh and Lance has a better seat for next season. All neat and tidy 🙂

29

Cheers @Jon.

That was an aspect that I had not considered.

30

To bad so many haters. Money makes F1 go round don’t ever forget that.

31

This situation at Force India creates some perplexing, yet very interesting scenarios regarding teams needing experienced drivers to accompany their young guns in 2019.

Force India will need an experienced driver to accompany Stroll with developing the new aero package for 2019. His constant moaning in desperation on the radio tells the world that he has no idea about car set up. Aero stall or no aero stall!!!

If they are to take any positive steps forward at all in 2019, Williams will need an experienced driver to accompany Sirotkin. (Kubica has no Hybrid F1 racing experience and it shows in his lap times and spins in practice!)

RBR will need an experienced driver to accompany the Golden Child if they are serious about making the new Honda PU work in harmony with an entirely new aero and chassis package in the two very short preseason-testing periods. Even Ricciardo’s vast experience and skills would have been tested with a monumental change like that!

McLaren might need someone to accompany Vandoorne if ‘The Lons’ moves-on to greener pastures.

If Sauber are really serious about their push to move further up the grid with the help of Ferrari, they need an experienced guy to accompany young Leclerc and help him develop the car.

There currently aren’t enough out-of-contract experienced drivers in F1 to cover all of those team’s needs next year.

Maybe we’ll see the likes of Massa, Villeneuve, Webber, Button, Coulthard and Rosberg asked to become “driver coaches” at some of the teams so they can continue to employ inexperienced young drivers with plenty of money and big balls.

Like I said … interesting … and perplexing!

32

Jack. Wasn’t Kubica faster than both regular race drivers when he tested the car? I don’t remember him spinning either.

33

Barcelona

34

Kubica’s (slow) lap times and spins in practice? Have I missed something?

35

Good on Lawrence Stroll for keeping 405 people employed. Very good that F1 retains another team, but I think it would be better if Orange Energy bought Force India & Lawrence made another new team to enlarge the grid.

Lance should have Ocon as his team mate, as they should work well together, but there should be a straight seat swap between Stroll & Perez.

I think Sergio has the grey matter to sort the miserable mess that is the badly balanced Williams, & the Mexican Paso with the Russian Ruble might just keep the Williams team able to afford lunch money.

The high stakes game of Musical Chairs is starting to run out of available seats, & I’ll have a guess that 2019 will look like;

Mercedes – Hamilton Bottas

Ferrari – Vettel Raikkonen

Red Bull – Verstappen Gasly

Renault – Ricciardo Hulkenburg

McLaren – Alonso Sainz

Pink??? – Stroll Ocon

Haas – Magnesson Le Clerc

Williams – Sirotkin Perez

Sauber – Ericsson Giovanazzi

Toro Rosso – Norris Hartley

I’m not sure that Marco will retain Hartley, but I don’t believe Brendan has had a decent opportunity to actually show why he is a world champion, & therefore should be retained.

If the above list is correct when 2019 rolls around, make it bourbon please, not beer.

36

As good as I have seen. Some doubts with Perez because I think Haas is a good fit, and they are an independent bunch so may not feel obliged to take LeClerc. Agree about Hartley – I guess you are gambling on Norris being the token that gets Key to McLaren quickly, but it’s by no means certain I think Zak would prefer cash.

37

Good to see Fl being saved after what they have achieved the past few years it would have been very sad to see them go. Many jobs saved as an add on and again after the results they brought to the team it seems fair.

I am not to kin on young Lance but of it what it takes to some 400 people being kept employed then it is fine.

Lance 1 and half season in F1 hasn’t exactly set the sport on fire so far. Yes a podium on his first season but a very opportunistic one if l remember right. When Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso etc first came to the sport, you knew right away they had talent a plenty. Not sure that l have seen that with Stroll. Time will tell l guess.

Now that Fl’s future looks to be a solid one, our concerns turn to Williams. l hope that they become Mercedes B team and start hiring drivers that have shown their worth in F1. Marc

38

What happened to Rich Energy? Why was the team taken into receivership when it did not need to? R.E. had an option to purchase which I believe they tried to exercise.

I guess L.M. prefer to have Stroll over Rich Energy…… thanks Merc and Sergio.

39
Alianora La Canta

Rich Energy was less rich than indicated 😉

40

Toe clipper, Rich energy were only offering sponsorship income going forward, so creditors would have had to wait for their monies owed. Lawrence and his mates could pay up front and were deemed to be the better bidder by the administrator.

41

Rich never had the money.. it was just a publicity stunt to stick it up Red Bull.

Free advertising.

Had you ever heard of Rich before their announcement about buying FI?

42
Alianora La Canta

Yes, I heard they were trying to get an energy drink into the shops. That enterprise has, to say the least, not gone brilliantly.

43

Veruca Salt’s daddy just bought him a race team! He wants it NOW!

44

But is he a good egg or a bad egg?

45

So will it now be called Force Canada??

46

@Wolfy

Good one. All joking aside, I don’t believe they can just change the teams name like that. Unless they get the agreement of all the other teams, they will lose the prize money owed to Force India.

I’m pretty sure that’s how it works, but I’m happy to be corrected as I only half remembered this from an article I read.

47

Eh 1…you hosers!

48

As a proud Canadian, I really hope not.

49

It is excellent news that the team has been saved. I don’t know who will be driving for the team next season but it would be great if it were called Force Canada and the cars were covered in maple leaves and sponsored by Tim Horton’s (doing doughnuts at every opportunity of course)

50

James, thanking you for great insights once again your next post or maybe even one of your next questions during Spa conferences will be : what will now happen to WILLIAMS? With Martini exiting at the end of 2018, and now Stroll’s backing, this goes from bad to worse for the Grove team. Sir Franck may say they have lived past troubled times (10 years ago actually, their low point), but i guess this one is probably the worst, looking at ALL other teams in the championship currently (all of them except Williams have a solid backing either from private money, or constructors!)

51

so very good lord $troll has bought his useless son junior lord $troll a team…really happy for him…next probably they should buy F1 itself…cause he’s gonna be still useless in it

52

Lol, Laurence should by the series so his son can win a championship, just like Jonathan Palmer did with his son 😛

53

1) it smells like Perez was a pawn in all of this. There were other creditors. Why was he encouraged to be the one to act?

2) As part of placing the team into administration, did they guarantee Perez a secure seat for 2019 with the team?

3) As F1 teams are now cash flow negative businesses, where are the sponsorship synergies between F1 and any of the businesses the consortium own? I don’t see an angle

4) is it a first to have father on pitwall and son in the car?

5) Will Jacque Villeneuve play a role? Driver performance? Let’s hope so !

6) Was Lance consulted on this? Anyone have his address so that I could send an apron and scissors to him?

Oh … So many questions unanswered!!

54

Jsl. Sergio added his own name to a winding up petition that had already been filed by HMRC, Vijay paid the tax man but didn’t have enough left to give Checo his 4m, so the administrators were called in. Obviously Perez knew that his action would cause the team to go into administration, but he also knew that Lawrence Stroll would then be able to buy the team from the administrator rather than having to pay the sky high asking price that Vijay wanted.

Mercedes were heavily involved in all of this as they were owed 13m themselves, but stopped short of adding their own name to the petition. I believe there are a number of reasons for them not wanting to do this, bad publicity being one of them, but I believe that it means Lawrence can deal with Merc direct rather than having to pay the whole lot up front.

55

I doubt if Perez wants to stay if there is a better seat on offer at Haas.

56

Bird in the hand …

Plus, if rumours are true about technical partnership, then the decision is between mercedes B team, or Ferrari B team.

57

Jacque does not like the Strolls one bit. They have finiancial beef that goes back years. And JV has been one of Lance’s harshest critics, basically saying he doesn’t belong in F1. He’s not going to be Lance’s coach lmao.

58

The joke failed. I agree with you totally. But it would be entertaining to see the sparks.

59

Please Daddy I want the pink ones they are quicker than the white ones, can I have those instead? Please Daddy please

60
Tornillo Amarillo

“Cool Dad, let’s kick some Haas!”

61

Everyone in Motor-racing was a pay driver at some formula on the ladder before they got to F1. F3 is €500k per season. Foormula ford is €100k per season. To win at Karting is going to be €5ok. All the dad’s are paying for these as sponsorship is non existant.

62

We are talking orders of magnitude in difference. Lawrence Stroll has spent an estimate $100 million buying Lance a “career” as an “Grand Prix driver”.

63

Next step. Williams and FI merge and will be called Strolliams. Then McStrolliams. Then Mercedes-McStrolliams. The other tier: Hyundai-Fiat-Chrysler.

64

Great news for the team! I think they’re one of the few teams that have survived administration in the last couple of decades. I guess their recent form has helped and they’re good value, always doing well on a relatively small budget. After the Midland/Spyker saga Force India have deservedly become a leading midfield team. I’m hoping under Stroll. the team will be able to continue to punch above its wait.

It’ll be no easy task though as Sauber keep getting better and will no doubt become the strong midfield team they once were. The Haas team continue to do well and also I’m sure the Renault team will only get better.

I hope Stroll and his backers see this as a long term investment and will stay with the team for the foreseeable future through the good and the bad. I hope he’s not just doing it to keep his son in the sport. That said it’ll be a great test too for Lance, to hopefully prove all his doubters wrong, and it’ll be interesting to see a driver racing for a team carrying his name. It’s been far too long.

On a side note, I wonder how much Williams will be affected by the loss of Strolls money?

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