Three into two can’t go at Force India

2019 F1 season

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Three Formula 1 drivers all have strong claims to a drive at Force India next year. And according to some, one seat could even change hands before the next race.

What is clear is the team’s future is much brighter following its exit from administration two weeks ago. But now we can expect they will take part in the 2019 F1 season, who is likely to drive for them?

In Sergio Perez the team has a driver who is both quick and brings funds. He’s only likely to move on if he senses a better option elsewhere. There is no room at Mercedes or Renault, and Ferrari and Red Bull are unlikely to be options.

That leaves one likely alternative if Perez chooses to look elsewhere: Haas. The team has had a Mexican driver before and Mexico is a significant market for the company. Team principal Guenther Steiner has hinted at frustration with the amount of points Romain Grosjean has thrown away, and in Perez the team could have a capable, experienced and well-heeled replacement.

Perez has admitted he is “lucky enough to have a couple of options” for his destination in 2019. But note that this quote was widely reported after it emerged he played a role in putting Force India into administration, he actually made the comments on the day before the proceedings began.

Matters may have changed since then. It is hard to imagine Perez and his manager Julian Jakobi would have taken the radical step they did without some kind of guarantee about his future at Force India. Perez, therefore, may be the most secure of the three.

Lawrence Stroll, Paul Ricard, 2018
Stroll Snr has driven his son’s career forward
Lawrence Stroll is among the investors which stepped in to save Force India. Several of the other names have close ties to him through the fashion business. That means Lance Stroll has to be considered a strong tip for a Force India seat.

Could, as some have suggested, this happen in time for the next race at Spa, alongside Perez? And might that open up an opportunity for Robert Kubica to finally make a shock return to racing, filling Stroll’s vacant seat at Williams?

While a fairytale return for Kubica has obvious appeal, his many supporters may realise this scenario is wishful thinking. In the unlikely event that Stroll is prepared to break contracts at both Williams and Force India’s ends to get his son into a more competitive car immediately, the simpler arrangement would be to slot Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon into a Mercedes-powered Williams.

A mid-season swap is the less likely outcome, but Ocon’s position for 2019 looks like the most under threat. As with the enforced departure of the improving Carlos Sainz Jnr’s from Renault, this would be a harsh verdict on Ocon, a driver who’s made great gains this year.

But in F1 politics and economics usually have a great, if not greater, say in who goes where.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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70 comments on “Three into two can’t go at Force India”

  1. In the other hand, at Sauber…

  2. If only force India could keep both its good drivers, and Williams boot hopeless stroll for kubica at Spa… That is wishful thinking that I wish!

  3. I don’t particularly want to see the back of Grosjean, but Perez-Magnussen at Haas sounds like an interesting pairing.

    But Ocon-Stroll would probably be a little more one-sided.

    1. I’d like to see an Ocon – Stroll lineup at Force India next year. That will not be pretty for Lance.

      1. Lets be honest, Perez – Stroll would not be pretty for Lance either

        1. they could get Yuji Ide out of retirement so Stroll will look good.

          1. I’ll deliver some ice for Ide to apply on that burn.

          2. Maldonardo……

          3. Michael Brown (@)
            19th August 2018, 12:38

            Maldonado is still spinning off the track in WEC. Yet unlike the latter drivers, he won an F1 race.

  4. I know Force India have been paying close attention to Lance Stroll’s performance at Williams and I have no doubt they strongly believe, that with his youthfulness and tenacity, he has what it takes to extract the maximum performance from their car.
    Now the team has secured it’s immediate future in F1 with new investments coming in, I’m sure they’ll be making a bold move to secure his services before another team signs him on.

    1. You forgot to put around your comment

    2. According to certain reliable sources, Ferrari have actually taken an interest in Lance Stroll. They believe that Vettel isn’t extracting the absolute maximum from the package he has, and believe that Lance Stroll will be the guy who can take them to that next level. Vettel will remain at Ferrari to be Stroll’s number 2.

      1. In other news, papa Stroll has bought Ferrari.

      2. @mashiat, of course, that joke does rather break down when you remember that Stroll was in fact employed by Ferrari as part of their Driver Academy (from 2010 to 2015).

    3. Didn’t know Lawrence Stroll was a commenter on racefans

      1. Haha nice

      2. Just you watch as Force India team personnel soon start saying very nice things about Stroll. Money has more control over the tongue than motor neurons.

        1. @OOliver

          Lance… that you?

  5. Still no edit button for comments !!!!!
    It should have said
    You forgot to put sarcasm icons around your comment

    1. Edit buttons mean that people can retract what they’ve said to fit another preferred narrative. Much better just to live with the typos.

      1. Time limited edit.. ( normal option on a lot of bulletinboard systems)

        1. Or even a “preview” option.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        19th August 2018, 12:40

        Just allow us to see the original comment after an edit so people don’t do underhanded things like that

  6. This silly season has really delivered. Would be a shame to see Ocon out, I really hope Stroll stays at Williams. At least he can still blame the car then.

  7. Three into two can’t go at Force India

    They can always replace Mallya with Kaltenborn.

    1. Hahaha, true.

  8. Force India: Ocon and Stroll
    Sauber: Perez and Ericsson
    Haas: Magnussen and Grosjean/Leclerc
    Ferrari: Vettel and Raikkonen/Leclerc
    Williams: Russell and Kubica/Sirotkin

    Ideally and semi-realistically. Of course, ideally Stroll wouldn’t be in the Force India, but with Papa Stroll buying into them, I can’t see him not being…

    1. Yep ultimately that’s the huge problem here, Stroll should be nowhere near the FI seat.

      I can’t see Perez going to Sauber, I think he’d see that as a step down. Ultimately I think he will be looking at FI or Haas. I think Grosjean and Raikkonen will miss out

      1. @burden93 – I think Raikkonen has a confirmed two-year extension at Ferrari. Grosjean has the second half of the season (probably) to set his house in order – should be interesting. Haas management seem pretty level-headed but if Grosjean has a second half like the first, I agree that he will not retain his seat.
        Stroll might just surprise us, although my doubts are strong. Good luck to him.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          19th August 2018, 12:41

          Why not Perez and Magnussen at Haas?

    2. There is zero proof Haas will be better than Sauber next year so Leclerc to Haas is a pipedream. Sauber is Ferrari’s junior team. Haas is just a customer. Sauber’s 2019 car will have the full benefit of their collaboration with Ferrari, unlike this year’s car that just has the power unit and some input from Ferrari’s technicians. For all we know, the 2019 Sauber could have every single component the Haas will and have the added bonus of experienced F1 designers and their own manufacturing/testing while Haas has to rely on their inexperienced design team and Dallara following their designs.

      I don’t hate Haas at all, btw. I just think prorating them for next season is folly.

    3. Red Bull clearly don’t have enough “junior” drivers ready for F1 at the moment, and Gasly isn’t ready to be in at RBR.
      The fact that they haven’t announced a driver for Ricciardo’s seat – even after Sainz has confirmed he will be heading to McLaren – suggests Perez could be a realistic option to partner Verstappen for a year or two.

      Of the available & drivers considered to have star potential, he’s the only one not tied to any manufacturer.

    4. Of any combination that exists for Force India, the best pairing that anyone could come up with is Perez and Ocon. If you take someone like Stroll and stick him in the seat there in place of one of those two, it’ll be years before Force India is back up high enough in the constructors points. Whatever FI is doing it’s working and with Perez and Ocon having been there for as long as they have FI have been able to keep their trend going with their ability to fight as far above their weight class as they have been.

    5. I’d like to see this list of drivers next year:
      (no chance of it ever happening!)

      Ferarri:Vettel, Leclerc
      RedBull: Verstappen, Gasley
      Force India: Perez, Stroll (sink or swim situation)
      Haas: Magnussen, Ocon
      Sauber: Giovinazzi, Raikonnen
      McLaren: Sainz, Norris
      Torro Rosso: Vergne, da Costa
      Williams: Kubica, Wolff

  9. I think it would be a tragedy if Ocon doesn’t have a seat next year. He’s been one of the best performers on the grid this year (Okay, a few mistakes like Baku – but who hasn’t made some this year). While all the seats are being filled up quickly, I can see Mercedes stepping in to make sure he gets a drive somewhere.

    Looking to the future after Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso and co are all retired, he must be Mercedes’s best bet to match Verstappen

    1. If Mercedes remains in F1 after Hamilton. I would not be surprised if they quit before 2021.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        19th August 2018, 12:43

        Mercedes could take Verstappen after Hamilton retires

    2. Putting Ocon at Williams seems like a disciplinary action. I have my fingers crossed he ends up elsewhere. Even McLaren would be a better move. After all, Renault love him.

    3. @LB

      Verstappen WILL be Mercedes best bet for the future

  10. If anyone needed any indication on the terrible state of F1 driver-wise, Stroll getting promoted and Ocon losing a seat must surely be it.

  11. Young Stroll to Force “gone India”..Ocon to McLaren for a year….Kubica might drive for Williams and if he proves to others that he can handle it well, we might even see the Pole in Force Canada next year…..cheers

  12. I’m thinking Stroll sr. would rather not have a similarly aged Ocon whopping his kid every other weekend, whereas with Perez the excuse could be made that he is more experienced, settled in the team etc.

    But if Mercedes is indeed willing to treat ‘Force Canada’ like its B team like Ferrari and Red Bull with more than engine parts supplied, it would make sense for Ocon to stay. Just thing like the Monaco let-by got them easy points and seeing how this could be significant over a season, it must surely be on their mind moving forward with new owners.

    For Perez it would anyway not make much difference to move to McLaren or Haas, and at McLaren I guess the money is better too.

    1. Exactly. Deficit to Perez would be much easier to explain and he brings more money. Not to mention that he is a bit slower than Ocon.

      BTW. Is Hulkenberg officially confirmed at Renault? If not then Ocon can still end up there.

      1. Yes, Hülkenberg is confirmed at Renault next year

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        19th August 2018, 11:18

        I agree – Perez is a better choice for the Stroll family. The young star at Force India will be Stroll.

  13. Very interesting scenario here. As the article suggests, I think Perez is quite secure, his destiny is in his own hands. I think he might be in a situation where its just the time to move on. Perez has maxed out at FI, and given all their troubles this year, it would be surprising if they produce a decent car for next year.

    Perez to Haas would make a lot of sense, since he brings money and he’s always managed to bag a podium or two when they’ve been on offer. Either that, or why not Ferrari? As former Ferrari academy driver, he will be a known quantity. He’s in the “Ferrari-Age” window as well. Perez has proven himself to be a steady hand, which is exactly what Ferrari need just now. Would be good to see him given a fair crack at a top team as well.

    1. Ferrari won’t take Perez. He’s shown that he’s not a great team player, and that’s Ferraris most important criteria for a #2 driver.

  14. I agree with jay. Perez has shown himself to be consistantly above average. He should fair well in a top team.

  15. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    18th August 2018, 21:23

    Force Canada: Stroll & Perez
    Haas: Magnussen & Leclerc
    Williams: Ocon & Russell (More Support, Mercedes B Team)
    Sauber: Ericsson & Grosjean
    McLaren: Sainz & Vandoorne
    Toro Rosso: Norris & Ticktum
    Red Bull: Verstappen & Gasley
    Ferrari: Vettel & Kimi

    Merc & Renault are already contracted.

    1. I can’t understand where the prediction of Dan Ticktum driving any F1 car comes from (not personal Todd, many have suggested it). As of 2017 and according to this website, Dan has only 2 points more than me and i have never raced in an FIA sanctioned competition (and I am 57) How many points has he amassed since this list was produced? My estimation would be umm zero. I understand that a superlicense can be granted at the discretion of the authorities, but Dan?
      If I am missing something here please let me know.

      1. I believe Dan hasn’t got past the 2 mark yet, but is on course to possibly get 40 points for winning European F3 this year. I’m not sure he’d be able to use those points in advance of securing the championship, but he is still a theoretical candidate for next year if he carries on performing as he is.

        In practise, the only way I could see him making it into F1 is if Toro Rosso is desperate to fill a vacancy.

  16. I hope Stroll goes to Force India.
    No matter which current driver stays , he’ll get found out either way ,so the defensive diatribe will be entertaining in itself .
    Roll out the chocolate-wheel of excuses!

  17. Just for a second …. imagine that the Stroll’s were not in F1. Where would Force India be today.?
    It will be interesting to see how much comes out on the back-room dealings between Stroll Sr. and the Perez team to orchestrate the Administration and subsequent buy-out of the team. Without which, we would be down to 9 teams for the next race and both Perez and Ocon would be lying on the beach for the next few months.
    Dish the Stroll’s if you like, but consider what would have occurred had they not been involved.

    1. Could just be that someone else bought or invested into force india instead. I don’t think stroll was the only option for force india. Stroll probably had the best deal to offer to force india though. Stroll did not want to own force india. Just wanted to buy a seat for lance. Which means continuous income for force india as well (as long as lance’s hobby is being f1 driver).

    2. Stroll senior is assisting the teams with finances and that cant be seen as a bad thing and ofcoarse should be entitled to something in return, but for Gods sake please do not kill this sport, I, personally, will be turned off knowing we have people there because they paid not because of their talent. Stroll Jnr isn’t up to these standards please, so please find another compensation instead of polluting the sport. I would also love to see F1 drop anything that frustrates teams from going flat out, on the limit from beginning to the end. that will bring excitement

    3. Michael Brown (@)
      19th August 2018, 12:47

      True, but it’s an unfortunate example of F1 when Force India needs the money that badly even after their great finishes in the Constructors’ Chanpionship.

    4. The administrator (FRP) said there were 5 credible bidders. Presumably the 2nd-best bidder would have bought the team, and if that had been the consortium backing Nikita Mazepin, we’d probably just be changing some names in the article and adding a paragraph speculating on the chances of the FIA overlooking his insufficiency of points when deciding whether to accept this.

  18. “After looking at the data carefully we have came to the conclusion that lance stroll is the fastest driver out there to drive for force india in 2019. We are also happy to announce marcus ericsson as our 2nd driver. He has proven on monthly basis that he has what it takes to stay in formula 1.”

  19. Would love to see Stroll in a better car than the Williams with a tougher team mate to see if he is truly a decent driver.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      19th August 2018, 11:13

      But Stroll’s dad would own the team – how would we know that the deck is fairly stacked for his teammate?

    2. Why? He had a decent car last year a d massa trashed him. He’s had his chance.

      1. Which should also answer: if massa was able to give 7-10 tenths to stroll with him partially owning the team, I think perez will get an equal chance too.

  20. Curious about this… How bad is Stroll?

    I know he’s a billionaires son and has a massive advantage outside of driver skill. But is he just bad for F1 standards or is he so bad he shouldn’t even be considered in F1?

    To me, an uninformed observer, he seems to be quite bad but not so bad that he’s a danger to himself and other drivers.

    1. Bad by 2010s F1 standards. He’d be OK by late-1990s standard, and I don’t think he’s either a hazard to anyone or as bad as a significant number of early-to-mid-1990s backmarkers.

  21. Stroll has not impressed me at all…..but money will talk, not talent.
    One thing I am curious about….Perez started the Force India administration process….as he was owed money….When a company normally goes into Admin, they are bought, but debts are wiped…so is there something in the F1 rules which stipulate that drivers wages have to be paid in this event???

    1. Sort of. The contract has to be honoured if the team wishes the driver to be bound by it, and a team cannot run a driver that isn’t bound to it by a contract the CRB (Contracts Recognitions Bureau) is willing to recognise. However, if a team goes bust, or a contract expires, or a team emerging from administration has a legally binding situation such as Marussia/Manor’s CVA from 2015 that overrides the contract (by stating a % of it is cancelled), or the driver and team voluntarily renegotiate, or a team finds a weird way of meeting what might otherwise be a common-sense term (such as Jordan suddenly noting their contract with Heinz-Harald Frentzen only required them to provide a F1 car for F1 races, not precisely a Jordan…), none of that protection applies.

      I think both FIF1 drivers are/were out of contract at the end of this year, so their CRB protections only apply for 2018… …and if Toto Wolff tells Esteban Ocon he needs to move to Williams to maintain Mercedes backing, he can’t go to the CRB to complain, because the Mercedes backing is not a driver/team race contract, but regarded as a sort of sponsor agreement.

  22. From what bits of info floated around recently, Perez seems to have effectively stopped the team going “bankrupt”. He indicated that his personal money situation was not his main motivation, but rather to save The Team. Bankrupcy would have stopped everything and the team would have lost out on any prize money due and the doors would have been closed. Assets would be sold (usually at a small fraction of value) and the funds distributed to the various creditors. End result, a cessation of operations with no real expectation of recovery of what we know of as The Team.
    Picture Ocon and Perez lying on a beach, beers in hand and only 18 cars on the grid at Spa.
    By buying into the team and covering the creditors through the Administration process, Stroll and Company look like they can keep it running as it is now and retain access to the prize money fund. It also results in all the creditor’s getting paid which may not sound significant, but if you want to continue running an F1 Team, you will need the cooperation and support of those same suppliers and contractors.
    My guess is that there have been negotiations going on for a while which will show up down the road. Drivers going where, engine (sorry, Power Unit) suppliers and future technical support along with Sponsors and ownership distribution also in the mix.
    I would love to see the full story, but likely the best we will get are bits that we might be able to piece together.
    Regardless, it is going to be a very interesting series of events. Ya gotta Luv-it.

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