- Palmer points to teammate that Hamilton would love to have
- Alonso takes a dig at Honda and points to troubles for Toro Rosso
- Hamilton on why Mercedes will triumph in 2018 and it is not due to the W09
- Alonso reveals why he did not quit F1 despite leaning towards exit
- Vettel offers crisp reply to Ferrari critics
- Hamilton’s ‘oompa loompa’ ex-girlfriend reveals champion’s strange toilet demand
- Hamilton helps Mercedes bag sponsorship deal
- Verstappen responds to Wolff’s early season prediction
- Ferrari boss opens door to staying in F1 if Liberty Media follows instruction
- Halo not disturbing drivers’ vision, but glaring problem remains
- Updated: February 26, 2018
Force India has confirmed that there is a very realistic chance that it will change its name before the season opener in Melbourne next month.
The Silverstone outfit has been working on a new identity since late last year, largely due to the fact that it does not have any real connection to India anymore, given that the Grand Prix has not been part of the F1 calendar for a while now.
The team had spoken about how they were looking at a more global name in the hope for better sponsorship opportunities.
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.
This led to obvious speculation that some work was going on behind the scenes and COO Otmar Szafnauer confirmed 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.”
Interestingly, this process was slowed down dramatically due to ‘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.”
While the car looked reasonably well sponsored on the first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona, Szafnauer admitted that the team was 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.”