Szafnauer named Force India team principal amid ‘Racing Point’ switch

Szafnauer named Force India team principal amid ‘Racing Point’ switch

Formula 1

Szafnauer named Force India team principal amid ‘Racing Point’ switch


Racing Point Force India has been permitted to race in the Belgian Grand Prix, with Otmar Szafnauer (pictured at right, with Force India drivers  Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez) becoming team principal following the former team’s exclusion.

The FIA confirmed on Thursday evening that Sahara Force India had been excluded from the Formula 1 World Championship as it could not complete the full season, with its assets transferred to a new company — Racing Point UK — after entering administration. Racing Point Force India was accepted as a new entrant into this year’s championship, allowing it to race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Following completion of the acquisition of the team by Racing Point UK, the investors have been announced as 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, businessman Lawrence Stroll and his business partner Silas Chou.

Szafnauer has been appointed team principal, with deputy team principal Bob Fernley standing down from his role. The rest of the team’s senior management team remains unchanged, while Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon remain its drivers for this weekend’s race.

Ocon leads Perez in Hungary. (Image by Glenn Dunbar/LAT)

The two drivers also keep their points in the drivers’ championship despite the constructor losing its points, as no prize money is associated with drivers’ championship positions.

“On Monday I stood in front of the workforce at Silverstone and Brackley and applauded the achievements of this team in recent years,” Stroll said. “The strength of any company is the people that make it up and it’s a huge privilege to begin this exciting new journey with such a talented group of men and women.

“I’ve been fortunate to establish and grow a number of successful businesses, but the opportunity to take this team forward to the next level is perhaps the most exciting challenge yet. Together with my fellow shareholders, we will invest in new resources and bring fresh energy to empower the workforce to continue racing at the very highest level.

“We are all passionate about motor racing; we recognize the racers’ spirit in Force India, and we are extremely motivated to make this team even more special in the years ahead.”

Szafnauer paid tribute to Fernley for his work with the former Sahara Force India team, and believes the fact that the rest of the team remains unchanged will be a major benefit moving forward.

“As we return from the summer break and prepare for the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix, I want to thank all the staff for their resolve and loyalty during the period of transition,” Szafnauer said. “Now that we are under new ownership and the future of the team is secure, we can focus on doing what we do best — going racing.

“We have a great management team in place and this stability will be extremely valuable as we begin the new era. I would like to thank Bob Fernley for his contribution to the success of this team over the last 10 years and recognize the support of the previous shareholders for making Force India what it is today.”