Lance Stroll, Force India, Yas Marina

Analysis: Why Force India’s name change is not so simple

2019 F1 season

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On Friday evening the FIA published the official entry list for the 2019 F1 season, as required by the Sporting Regulations. There were four notable changes to team names: Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow; Rich Energy Haas F1 Team; Williams Racing (Martini dropped), and Racing Point (Force India dropped). None were a surprise, and very much formalities.

Racing Point, however, also changed its chassis name from Force India to Racing Point. By doing so it removed the final reference to the team’s identity under previous co-owner Vijay Mallya. But the change has a greater significance, one related to the same issue which brought Force India and Haas before the stewards in Abu Dhabi: F1’s prize money.

Eligibility for F1’s revenues is linked to retention of teams’ chassis names. However, as we detailed last week, there is currently no overarching covenant that binds the various F1 agreements related to this: Sporting Regulations and individual team commercial agreements are applied separately.

From a Sporting Regulations perspective, Racing Point could readily adopt a new chassis name in lodging its entry. But this raises the question of whether F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media agrees to combine the performances of the Force India chassis (subsequent to Spa 2018 only, when the team’s new entry was accepted) with those of the Racing Point chassis name from the start of next year.

If not, Racing Point’s plan for a quick name change creates a problem. In order for its seventh place in the 2018 championship – which is worth tens of millions pounds – to be taken into account, the team would need to revert to the Force India chassis name, despite having entered for 2019 under a Racing Point chassis. Furthermore, the regulations demand that chassis names include at least an element of a given team name, so Racing Point would need to adopt Force India into its team name.

Racing Point Force India would therefore be back to square one…

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The procedure for changing a chassis name is more complicated now than it was under the 2010-12 Concorde Agreement: then teams sought approval from the FIA and commercial rights holder (to ensure that any name was not ‘offensive’), and lodged applications with the F1 Commission. A vote of 18 votes (of 26) approved the application, and historic performance was recognised.

Otmar Szafnauer, Guenther Steiner, 2018
Analysis: Why Haas’s ‘defeat’ in Force India protest was really a win
Since the start of 2013, when bilaterals superseded the Concorde Agreement, the process is superficially considerably simpler as these agreements specify that only the prior approval of the commercial rights holder is required for change of chassis name.

However the complicating factor is that the bilaterals variously refer to carry-over clauses from Schedule 10 of the 2010-12 Concorde Agreement, which in turn refer to Formula 1 Commission approval. Which overrides which – commercial rights holder or carry-over clauses?

A source with knowledge of the situation suggests it would be “prudent to obtain approval from both CRH and Formula 1 Commission for any change of chassis name”, and pointed to the example of Marussia, which underwent this process when the team emerged from administration and morphed into Manor GP. Otherwise, they warned, there could be legal repercussions – of which Racing Point Force India has had more than its fill recently…

The next Formula One Commission meeting is scheduled for 16 January 2019 in Geneva, although e-votes could be called for before or after that date. Either way, the matter needs to be resolved prior to the opening round in Melbourne on 17 March if the matter is not become even more farcical.

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Official 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship entry list, as published on 30th November 2018

Car no.Driver’s nameCompany nameTeam nameName of the chassisName of the engine
44Lewis HamiltonMercedes-Benz Grand Prix LimitedMercedes-AMG Petronas MotorsportMercedesMercedes
77Valtteri BottasMercedes-Benz Grand Prix LimitedMercedes-AMG Petronas MotorsportMercedesMercedes
5Sebastian VettelFerrari SpaScuderia Ferrari Mission WinnowFerrariFerrari
16Charles LeclercFerrari SpaScuderia Ferrari Mission WinnowFerrariFerrari
33Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing LimitedAston Martin Red Bull RacingRed Bull RacingHonda
10Pierre GaslyRed Bull Racing LimitedAston Martin Red Bull RacingRed Bull RacingHonda
3Daniel RicciardoRenault Sport Racing LimitedRenault F1 TeamRenaultRenault
27Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Racing LimitedRenault F1 TeamRenaultRenault
8Romain GrosjeanHaas Formula LLCRich Energy Haas F1 TeamHaasFerrari
20Kevin MagnussenHaas Formula LLCRich Energy Haas F1 TeamHaasFerrari
55Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren Racing LimitedMcLaren F1 TeamMcLarenRenault
4Lando NorrisMcLaren Racing LimitedMcLaren F1 TeamMcLarenRenault
11Sergio Perez MendozaRacing Point UK LimitedRacing Point F1 TeamRacing PointMercedes
18Lance StrollRacing Point UK LimitedRacing Point F1 TeamRacing PointMercedes
7Kimi RaikkonenSauber Motorsport AGAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 TeamSauberFerrari
99Antonio GiovinazziSauber Motorsport AGAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 TeamSauberFerrari
26Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso S.p.aRed Bull Toro Rosso HondaScuderia Toro Rosso (STR14)Honda
TBAAlexander AlbonScuderia Toro Rosso S.p.aRed Bull Toro Rosso HondaScuderia Toro Rosso (STR14)Honda
63George RussellWilliams Grand Prix Engineering LimitedWilliams RacingWilliamsMercedes
88Robert KubicaWilliams Grand Prix Engineering LimitedWilliams RacingWilliamsMercedes

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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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36 comments on “Analysis: Why Force India’s name change is not so simple”

  1. So their new name could be Forced 2B Force India.

    1. haha I would give you an upvote if I could

    2. @robbie you make a good racing point.

      1. Ahaha, that’s a good one, brian.

  2. Am I the only one who finds this whole process rediculous….?
    Pirelli will only use 3 tirenames next year so as not to confuse us fans (Something I actually find offensive)
    But when a team with the same factory, the same engineers etc etc wants to change it’s name , well that’s not possible without 5 committies, and 5 votes, and the loss of millions of dollars…… great way to keep it simple F1….

    1. Nope!
      You couldn’t make it up, could you? F1 is a complete dog’s breakfast of interlocking agreements, codes, regulations and practices none of which seem to work together for the benefit of the teams, the sport or the fans.
      And the Racing Point / Force India stupidity demonstrates that the prospect of $60m could pull the sport apart.

    2. They heard about KISS, but misread the meaning. It’s not “Keep It Simple and Stupid”. Although I wouldn’t put it past them to have changed it to KISAS…

    3. Tell me which billion dollar business is simple?

    4. @melkurion strongly disagree about the tyrenames. Frequently having the Hardest available compound named supersoft is just way beyond silly.

      1. @mrboerns
        …. Why is that silly…. you said it yourself, it’s the hardest one available….

        The fact that the bring ultrasoft, ultrasoft and supersoft means the have 3 soft tyres, the least soft of which is the supersoft. That seems perfectly fine to me. It also perfectly fine linguistically .

        It would be the same as lining up a ferrari, porsche and let’s say a lambourgini , the porsche would probably be the cheapest car, despite a porsche not being cheap in general.

        But linguistical confusion is the only reason they are changing it. I find that offensive because I feel it insults our knowlegde as formula 1 fans. Any fan with even the slightest intrest in F1 should have no problem understanding how the current tire rules and names work. Even the proverbial “foorrest GUmp”could work it out imo.

        1. The reason why they are changing it is because the current names make no sense. It is a bad system that lacks context and to be able to understand it you need to learn the tire names before each race so you know which tire is which. Which is faster? Ultra soft or hyper soft? You had to check I’m 99% sure. Then try doing that guestimation during the race. So when in a race driver has supersofts we don’t know if that is the softest or hardest tire available in that race. And even less so with the colors. Which is faster? Pink or purple? Ahh but you did not memorize it before the race…

          Unless you take time to learn the names before the race you have no idea what tires each driver is compared to someone else. It is just unnecessarily complex system that hides information. With 3 same compound names and colors per race it is much better system as you don’t need to learn anything and the names themselves tell you all what you want to know. You see a yellow color or hear medium tire you know exactly what it is and how it compares to everyone else on track. If you want to know the specific compound names you can still find that information easily. Need to only learn it once and it is consistent throughout the season. Much better system.

  3. Haas just perked up again.

  4. It’s in the interest of all team to have a clear process to change team names and reatin prize money. It inherantly devalues a team if it cant be sold to a new owner, change the name to what they see fit and retain the legacy of previous team sucess through the financial payments.

    1. My thoughts too. I now suspect Lawrence Stroll is wishing he hadn’t bought this team, and that he should have just left Lance at Williams. Yes, that would mean F1 would have lost one of their best teams to race in this series in the last 10 years, and that would have devalued F1 too, which again wouldn’t have been Lawrence’s problem. I think this needs to be sorted out before Christmas, and the correct solution is Racing Point inherit the money that Sahara Force India earned and that they are paid for the races they performed at under the name of Racing Point Force India.
      There is a bigger picture, which is all the teams contribute value to F1, and the equal share payout reflects that.

      1. There is still an ongoing legal challenge from the Mazepin clan as well.

  5. But this raises the question of whether F1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media agrees to combine the performances of the Force India chassis (subsequent to Spa 2018 only, when the team’s new entry was accepted) with those of the Racing Point chassis name from the start of next year.

    Why? Why is this a thing? What does the 2018 chassis have to do with the 2019 chassis? Why should their performances be combined when they are entirely different cars under different regulations?

  6. Every team from now on will have the term “F1” in their name and in the chassis name as well. It’s innocuous and suitable enough as to fit in any instance and will be what remains whenever a team decides to change their brand.
    So Force India F1 could have gone to Racing Point F1 on both count and be OK. Same for any other team.

    Like the article elucidates, this happens because of murky rules that try to bring together multiple organisms, each with a claim to the F1 business, as well as some rules, but not others, from previous agreements. But at some point this will need to be wrangled into something coherent. And if team names are in dispute like this, maybe we’re at that point already…

    1. … from now on will have the term “F1” in their name …

      Yes, but Liberty (FOM) has the rights to ‘F1’ and wouldn’t let anyone use it, just as Keith was, I suspect, forced to drop the ‘F1 Fanatic’ name. What a tangled web…………

      1. Who’s got rights then to ‘FU’?
        Solved ;)

  7. Let’s just watch football, shall we? It all seems a bit more simple.

    1. OK American football, English futbol, or Australian Rules Football?

      1. Aussie Rules! None of that US “football” played with the hands..

        1. Handegg…in Chinese (currently living in China), it’s “olive-ball”…

      2. Or Rugby Football?

      3. Football in the sense that 90% of the world calls it ;)

    2. Football, a simple game where we all play for 90 minutes… and then the Germans win…

      1. Not recently…

    3. Eh frankly the complexity of F1 is one of the things I love about it (not to say all the time but mostly). Especially in the winter season when there is no actual racing going on and I can read interesting news articles like this.

      I know some people just like the racing and that’s fine but frankly the politics of F1 is also a big part of its appeal to me. It’s boring if everything was simple and everything worked fine all the time as well as knowing that in the end it doesn’t matter as this isn’t the type of politics that is going to cause the world to end if everything goes up in flames. I’m loving all this drama especially while waiting for races between weeks and off season.

      They also make good listening topics to the many talented F1 podcasters and Youtubers our there (again especially I’m off season) and I also get to see interesting analysis from sites like Racefans.

      1. Exactly, SonicSP. Don’t get to be known as the Pinnacle of Motorsport Politics without some Machiavellian mischief and Vogan polemics. ;-)

      2. I enjoy some of the politics, but when a team has sporting and commercial problems because of changing a chassis name, I say that is way too much…

    4. Simple? Not sure.
      Nations League!

  8. There is another point not mentioned above: New teams along with teams finishing outside the top 10 or who scored no points have to prove to the FIA their financial eligibility and ability to contest the whole forthcoming season with two cars. Racing point have become a new team and as such under the previous agreement should not receive column 1 payment for two years and must now prove their continuing financial status.

    Of course this red rag will awaken Hass like a bucket of cold water, why should another new team be treated so differently?

    Whilst one can sympathise with the ex Force India survivors and wish them luck, if Liberty continue to pay them Column 1 sums, then they may justifiably expect a large amount of airborne faeces.
    Liberty have here the opportunity to alienate completely, all the other teams. There are times we will miss Bernie’s extraordinary intricate deal balancing skills.

    1. Racing Point did satisfy the FIA’s fiscal parameters during the (mid-season) entrant license process. There were absolutely no issues, as expected from a team bankrolled by a billionaire with DEEEEP pockets.

  9. “FORCE F1” would have been fine..

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