Force India makes first move in ‘Force One’ name change
Force India has taken the first steps to a possible re-branding as Force One, with the formation of a series of UK company names featuring the new identity.
Documents reveal that on May 31st and June 6th new limited companies were registered under the names Force One Grand Prix, Force One Racing, Force One Team, Force One Technologies, Force One Hospitality, and Force One Brand.
The only director listed is Dr Thiruvannamalai Laskshimi Kanthan, an accountant, financial consultant, and long time associate of Dr Vijay Mallya.
He is also a director of the Force India team and three other companies connected with it.
Mallya is planning a change to a more generic name in an attempt to open up options for sponsorship, given that it has proved hard to raise funds in India.
A new name would also potentially make it easier to sell a shareholding in the team.
The new companies have in essence been created to protect the name that is currently favoured, prior to approval, and none of them will actually become the team as such. The company that currently uses the Force India Formula One Team name and holds all commercial rights – and which was was previously known as Jordan, Midland and Spyker – would have to change to Force One.
An application for a chassis name change would have to be made to the FIA, and approved by the F1 Commission. Traditionally Bernie Ecclestone didn’t make it easy for teams to change names without good reasons, but Force India is confident that it will not be problematic.
“Force India was born out of Vijay owning the team,” said COO Otmar Szafnauer.
“His hopes that some India companies would sponsor us. As it turned out, there were a couple, but not very many. He also hoped that India would have a Grand Prix, which happened. With the Grand Prix and a couple of our sponsors, it made sense to have Force India’s name.
“Since then we’ve lost the Grand Prix there, the Indian sponsors no longer were interested in sponsoring us. Now we have no Indian sponsors whatsoever, apart from Vijay’s Kingfisher.
“So it kind of makes sense to change it from India in order to attract sponsors more globally, and not restrict ourselves to being Force India.
“For a name a chassis change we need approval from some of the rest. I don’t think it’s all, but it’s got to go through the F1 Commission. If the FIA and commercial rights holder and some of the teams say ‘yes,’ then we can have a name change.
“I think there’s a spirit of co-operation in that regard. We voted for Brawn to go to Mercedes, and I would hope they would reciprocate.”
Szafnauer said the change has to be the right one: “You don’t change your name every other year, so we’ve got to think about it deeply and philosophically, and make sure if we do it, it’s going to be there for a long time. The one reason Bernie didn’t like name changes all the time is that a team over time gets an identity and everyone knows who it is.
“We’ve been Force India for 10 years now, if we do change, it should last another 10 years or 20 years so people get to know what it is.
“If we choose a name that’s closely linked to Force India but not Force India that might even be an easier step forward.”
The FORCE name was previously associated with the F1 team also known as Beatrice Haas in 1985 and ‘86, but whose official title was Formula One Race Car Engineering.
When owner Carl Haas pulled out of the sport it was bought by Ecclestone, who still owns it, although it has not actually traded since then.
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