The Force India Formula 1 team has taken the first steps towards a possible name change. Documents reveal that on May 31 and June 6, new limited companies were registered in the UK under the names Force One Grand Prix, Force One Racing, Force One Team, Force One Technologies, Force One Hospitality and Force One Brand.
The only director listed is Dr Thiruvannamalai Laskshimi Kanthan, an accountant and financial consultant and long time associate of Dr Vijay Mallya. He is also a director of Force India and three other companies connected with it.
Mallya is planning a change to a more generic name in an attempt to open up options for sponsorship, given that it has proved hard to raise funds in India.
Force India chief operating officer, Otmar Szafnauer, admitted that aside from Mallya's own Kingfisher brand there had only been "a couple, but not many" Indian sponsors and that the loss of the Indian Grand Prix after 2013 had effectively stalled interest. A new name would also, potentially, make it easier to sell a shareholding in the team.
The new companies have essentially been created to protect the team's preferred new name while it awaits approval, and none of them will actually become the team as such.
The company that currently uses the Force India Formula 1 Team name and holds all commercial rights – and which was previously known as Jordan, Midland and Spyker – would have to change to Force One. An application for a chassis name change would also have to be made to the FIA, and approved by the F1 Commission.
Szafnauer said it was important to get the name right for the long term.
"You don't change your name every other year, so we've got to think about it deeply and philosophically, and make sure if we do it, it's going to be there for a long time," he said.
"We've been Force India for 10 years now. If we do change, it should last another 10 years or 20 years so people get to know what it is. If we choose a name that's closely linked to Force India but not Force India that might even be an easier step forward."