With rumors that it might not be able to race at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend with its recent drama and new ownership, the Force India Formula One team is now Racing Point Force India. Everyone will probably still just call it Force India, because it’s easier and sounds better. And it’s the same team.
But it wasn’t just a name change. F1 announced the switch Thursday, saying Force India (see? easier) had to give up all of its points in the constructors’ championship from the first 12 of 21 races this year. Drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have scored 59 points together so far this year compared to the leading Mercedes team’s 345 points, so it’s not the biggest loss in the world.
The team also had to agree to excluding the old Force India entry and its points from contention in the team title, but neither of those stipulations applied to the two drivers on the team. They kept their points as individuals, with Perez 10th in the standings and Ocon 12th.
This whole mess started when the old Force India went into administration over unpaid bills and sponsors—yes, the team apparently owed sponsors money—after Perez and his personal manager brought action against the team. Perez said in a statement that his “pure intention” with the legal move “was to save the job[s] of 400 teammates.”
Here’s what happened from Perez’s side, according to the statement:
Force India has been in a critical financial situation for some time. On Wednesday this week, one of the creditors was in court in London trying to wind up the team.
If successful, this would have meant the team would be shut down immediately and everyone would lose their jobs.
As being myself one of the creditors of the team, I was asked to use a different legal procedure in the English courts called “Administration” which allows a company to continue operating while a new owner is found.
That new owner came from someone within the F1 paddock—rival driver Lance Stroll’s dad. Force India went into administration before F1’s “summer break” and Lawrence Stroll came in at the start of August, right in the middle of it.
But when the team showed up for the first race weekend after the break, which is this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, there was uncertainty about which team would be racing and some about whether the team would be able to race at all. That’s gone now, thanks to the points forfeiting and new name that none of us are going to take the time to write out.
Here’s the full ruling, from F1’s announcement:
The FIA said in a statement: “Following a disciplinary investigation and prosecution by the FIA under Article 4 of the FIA’s Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, the Sahara Force India F1 Team has accepted its exclusion from the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship with immediate effect, due to its incapacity to comply with Article 8.2 of the Sporting Regulations moving forward, and forfeits all Constructors Championship points under Article 6.2.”
Meanwhile, Lance Stroll still races at Williams F1 while his wealthy dad owns the new Force India. It’s really, truly, positively anyone’s guess how this one will play out. The suspense is unbearable.
Update: Friday, Aug. 24 at 11:02 a.m. ET: The new team will get to keep the prize money won by the old Force India, Motorsport.com reports.