Force India very likely to change name pre-Australia
Force India says there is still a "high probability" it will change its team and chassis name before the start of the season in Australia.
The Silverstone outfit has been working on a new identity since late last year, in the belief that its connections to India have compromised sponsorship opportunities, and that a more generic name would be beneficial.
However, the new VJM11 was launched in Barcelona on Monday under the Force India name, although there was evidence of reduced branding on team kit and around the garage.
COO Otmar Szafnauer is confident that the FIA and F1 will still accept a last-minute change before Melbourne.
"There's a high probability that it will happen before the first race of this year," he told Motorsport.com.
"We're still working on it, we still haven't quite pinpointed what the name change will be, but we always said there will be a name change coming.
"The deadline is coming close, and like anything, the closer you get to a deadline the harder you work to make sure it happens."
The process was slowed by 'cyber squatters' taking over potential domain names last year, and since then the team management has taken extra care to keep potential candidates under wraps, as well as ensuring that the new identity will have a long shelf life.
"It's one of those things that doesn't happen every day, so you've got to get it right, so you might as well take your time as opposed to doing it early – because it's going to be for a long time," added Szafnauer.
"There's a few stakeholders in this, the guys who own the place, potential sponsors in the future, FOM, so you've got to align all that before you pull the trigger.
"If it doesn't happen by Australia, there's always next year. It will be a good thing to do earlier rather than later, but like I said, getting it right is more important than the timing, because it's going to be there for a long time. I don't think you change your name every year.
"Everyone's got an opinion on it, and until we all come to the same opinion, you still kind of talk about it, and if there's no timing pressure, you still talk about."
Force India launched a well-sponsored car in Barcelona, but Szafnauer confirmed that the team is already talking to potential backers for 2019 whose involvement is dependent on the name change happening.
"We've had discussions with people who say, 'If you change the name, we're more interested – although not for this year.' That's why I say we've got to get it right, not for this year, but for next year.
"My preference is that we do it now. If it doesn't happen now, it's not detrimental. But if it doesn't happen at all, it could potentially be detrimental. It doesn't affect anything we're doing now."
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