The Force India Formula One team is expected to be sold within the next few weeks after a consortium led by British-based energy drinks boss William Storey finalised a deal with the team’s Indian owners.
It appears that Storey, chief executive of Rich Energy, has finalised terms with Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy to buy the team in the deal for an undisclosed sum.
Force India was fourth in last year’s F1 constructors’ Championship and have a reputation for extracting a lot of car performance on a tight budget.
Roy and Mallya have been looking to sell Force India for some time to raise cash to deal with their respective legal and financial difficulties.
Indeed an angry team employee approached TJ13 back in February revealing promised bonuses had not been paid. The teams cash flow difficulties have been well documented over the years.
Roy, boss of Indian conglomerate Sahara, is in prolonged legal wrangling with the Indian financial regulator that saw him held in custody for two years, while Mallya, whose troubled business empire included the Kingfisher airline and beer brand, is battling extradition from the UK back to India to answer accusations of financial irregularities.
Storey, who was headed to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix where Rich Energy enjoys a tie-up with the season’s most glamorous race, declined to comment on the deal.
In insider from Italy has however revealed that:
“The deal is done, only the paperwork needs to be completed. It’s a big investment and it’s going to shake things up a lot.”
“It’s taken a long time to do the deal but there’s no stopping the sale now.”
New ownership of the Force India team raises the prospect of a change of name to provide a stronger marketing platform for Storey’s brand, following a similar path as rival product Red Bull.
TJ13 believes that the name of the new team will be Rich Energy Racing. Further, the business name was registed late last year at Companies House UK.
During an interview with motorsport.tv’s Peter Windsor; William Storey, CEO of Rich Energy, said he felt the move to buy a Formula One Team was a “natural progression” for the company.
“Formula One makes a lot of sense to support international expansion and motor racing is the sweet spot for our marketing function.
“As a platform, it’s the pinnacle of motor sport and that’s really where we want to be.
“To take on Red Bull in Formula One creates a perfect narrative for what we’re doing with our brand.”
It is likely the new livery and name change won’t come into effect immediately due to existing sponsorship deals. Further, team name changes cannot occur mid season.