March 23, 2018 / 1:12 PM / 4 months ago

Motor racing: Force India F1 team rule out name change this year

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Force India will not be changing their name this season despite having a new one in mind, the Formula One team said at the opening Australian Grand Prix.

Chief operating office Otmar Szafnauer said they had run out of time.

“It’s not going to happen this year,” he told the formula1.com website. “To change chassis name, from what I understand, you can’t do it in the middle of the season...

“We went around to find the best name, we had some discussion with partners, sponsors and employees. Then we went to the (governing) FIA and FOM and they said ‘well, you’re a bit out of time’.”

Szafnauer had told reporters during testing in Barcelona last month that a name change could happen before Sunday’s race in Melbourne.

The Silverstone-based team, who have finished fourth overall for the last two years, have said they are considering dropping ‘India’ from their name to make themselves more attractive to potential sponsors.

The team are co-owned by tycoon Vijay Mallya and Sahara Group founder Subrata Roy, who have both had well-documented legal problems.

Mallya, who is also team principal, is fighting a request to extradite him from Britain to face fraud charges in India related to the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines.

Roy’s embattled Sahara conglomerate has been involved in its own long-running dispute after being ordered to repay billions of dollars to investors in bonds that were ruled to have been mis-sold.

“It’s not every day you change your name,” said Szafnauer, whose team have Mexican Sergio Perez and Frenchman Esteban Ocon as drivers.

“The process wasn’t well defined and still isn’t well defined. Now that we know it, we’ll do it at the end of the season.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis

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