Opinion: Lawerence Stroll has let Force India's positive ethos disappear

10-09-2020 09:30
by Matt Gretton
Column
Opinion: Lawerence Stroll has let Force India's positive ethos disappear

Force India have always received a lot of credit from fans, journalists and supporters. Many F1 fans have a soft spot for the team. The small constructor that, with Andrew Green, Sergio Perez and Vijay Mallya, managed to do well with few resources. No one could have predicted how quickly Lawrence Stroll and his associates ruined that image.

The goodwill factor of Force India

At the end of 2007, Vijay Mallya and a Dutch businessman, Michiel Mol, bought the Formula 1 team from Spyker and renamed it Force India. After a winless year, the team started to surprise teams in 2009. A podium and pole for Giancarlo Fisichella in Belgium really put the team on the map, and the ball started to roll. 

Year after year, the team kept getting better and with strong drivers such as Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, the team has a huge favour factor. The performances in 2016 and 2017 are therefore highly appreciated. With the small budget, Force India finished fourth two years in a row in the constructors' championship. They beat major teams such as Williams, McLaren and Renault.

However, halfway through 2018 things change. Owner Mallya is in bigger trouble and something needs to be done. Perez throws himself into the fight and his action ensures that the team stayed alive. Every staff member owes their job to Perez. Ironically by triggering the administration process, it leaves the door wide open for the arrival of Lawrence Stroll.

Stroll is ruining the image

With the arrival of the Canadian businessman, the signing of son Lance is a simple addition. For those who really think that Lawrence can separate the business and the interests of his son, are wrong because where Ocon would clearly have been the better driver, Perez is sitting alongside Lance. 

Perez knows how to get the most out of that car time and time again and 2020 is no different. In fact, Perez's importance has only become more apparent since the Mexican's coronavirus. In the absence of Perez, it turned out that Stroll could not lead the team and the man who was still on the beach a week before could simply be ahead of him in qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg.

If that wasn't a clear signal that Perez is the man for Racing Point, it became clear again last week when Stroll was under pressure. The victory in Italy was there for the taking, but a terrible first lap after the restart meant that he had to settle for third place. Would Perez have let Pierre Gasly win in that situation? I do not think so.

What else could Perez have done?

Nevertheless, Racing Point now chooses to kick Perez out. If a contract apparently no longer has any value for Racing Point, then you understand that they apparently do not find core values ​​such as loyalty to the team and speed interesting. I've never been a big fan of Perez, but Racing Point's image takes a huge dent here.

After copying the Mercedes, the team had already suffered some image damage, but breaking the contract with Perez to bring in Vettel is still a bigger offence. Why not store Lance with another team for a year? If you really take your team that seriously and bring in a four-time world champion, give him a worthy teammate too.

Cheering for Vettel

Force India was a beautiful innovative team that managed to achieve more with a small budget and good drivers. Now, however, it has become a team that revolves around the Stroll family's wish. Aston Martin is the new name for the toy Dad bought for Lance.

Let's hope that Vettel will make Stroll regret this move and that the German will outdrive him in 2021. With the current confidence and level that the German is displaying, that will be difficult, but if he can get close to his old level, then a spoiled pay driver should never be a problem for Seb. For the first time in my life, I will support him.

For Perez, I hope that there will be a nice step to Red Bull Racing. Perez deserves a chance with such a team and Red Bull can use a driver of his qualities. Knowing Red Bull, Perez will have to make do with a seat at Haas or Alfa Romeo, where he can drive at the back of the grid for a few more years for a lot of money.

This article previously appeared on www.GPblog.com/nl and was written by Tim Kraaij.

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