New chapter in 2019? More like a new book, say Racing Point

TORONTO (Reuters) - Racing Point have put the cash-starved Force India days behind them and now have the resources to show Formula One what they can really do, the Canadian-owned team said on Wednesday.

The new car livery is on display for the SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team after it was unveiled at a pre-season launch event at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Technical director Andrew Green told a livery launch, where Kenyan betting company SportPesa was announced as new title sponsors, that the buzz at the factory since the change of ownership was incredible.

“The investment that’s in the team is absolutely unprecedented, there’s a real sense of we can show people what we can really do now. They have given us the tools to be able to move forward,” he said.

“It’s not a new chapter in the history of this team, we’re a new book now.

“We’re all eager to prove that we can do more. If you give us a little bit more, we can do a lot more. Over the coming months you’ll see the team grow and develop and the performance of the car will increase at quite a dramatic rate.”

Force India went into administration in July last year with only 240,000 pounds to their credit while outstanding gross wages due at the end of that month totalled 2.2 million.

Bankers Santander had already frozen the company’s accounts, a report by the administrators later revealed. There were also significant debts, including 13.7 million to engine providers Mercedes alone.

Racing Point, a consortium of investors led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll whose son Lance is now driving for the team, paid 90 million pounds in August to take over the assets and have brought in new backing.

“In years past we’ve pressures. Those pressures have been lifted thanks to the consortium as well as our partners,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer.

“Now we have other pressures and those are to perform at an even higher level than we have before.

“The resources over time will now increase and the performance has to be commensurate. We are all focused on making sure our on-track performance not only stays where it was but gets closer to those top three.”

Force India were the fourth ranked team in 2016 and 2017 before last year’s troubles. Racing Point finished 2018 seventh out of 10 -- some achievement given that they started with a clean slate from August.

Szafnauer had talked last year of the name Racing Point being temporary but he said they had now decided to keep it.

“We’ve all come to the conclusion that basically we are a team of racers. And there’s nothing wrong with it, and actually it encompasses who we are,” he said.

“We all talked together and thought that’s an appropriate name, let’s make it wonderful and take that name and give it some history in time and some heritage of us being racers and ultimately winners.”

Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis