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Mallya chasing international appeal with Force India name change

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Force India Formula 1 owner Vijay Mallya hopes that changing the name of his team for 2018 will help to appeal to a more international audience of sponsors as discussions regarding a rebrand continue.

Force India made its F1 debut back in 2008 and strongly embraced its national identity, only for plans for a name change to emerge last month.

A number of companies with links to Mallya using ‘Force One’ were established in the UK in the past six weeks, pointing towards a new name for the team.

Speaking to NBCSN over the British Grand Prix weekend, Mallya explained that he believed a name change to be necessary for Force India in 2018 in order to open up to more international sponsors.

“When I named the team Force India, it was to attract and appeal to the millions of young motorsport fans in India,” Mallya said.

“At that time, I was hopeful that there would be an Indian Grand Prix and that there would be many Indian sponsors.

“The Indian Grand Prix happened, but it was sadly short lived, and doesn’t seem to be any prospect of it coming back.

“And there have been no Indian sponsors as I had earlier hoped as they all seem to be putting their money into cricket.

“So I have to necessarily appeal to a more international audience of sponsors, so I must give the team an international identity.

“Force India is too India-centric, and that’s why discussions are happening on a name change.”

Despite the creation of the Force One companies, Mallya insisted that “we haven’t decided on anything yet” for 2018, but confirmed he wanted to retain ‘Force’ in the name.

“There are several suggestions. I want to be able to keep the first word, ‘Force’, and add a suffix to it,” Mallya said.

“But it’s a discussion stage.”

F1 2017 driver review: Romain Grosjean

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Romain Grosjean

Team: Haas
Car No.: 8
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Austria)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 28
Championship Position: 13th

After leading Haas’ charge through its debut Formula 1 season in 2016, Romain Grosjean once again stepped up as team leader for the American team through its sophomore campaign despite scoring one point fewer.

Haas did not expect any major step in performance heading into 2017, having dealt with building all-new cars for two different sets of regulations, but the team was able to match its season one points total by the halfway mark this time around.

The big boost was the addition of a second points scoring driver – Kevin Magnussen – to partner Grosjean. Grosjean looked increasingly comfortable at Haas even if the car often presented problems, particularly under braking.

Radio rants were frequent, with Grosjean unable to drive around the issues as Magnussen did. But he was nevertheless able to finish the year as Haas’ top scorer, with his highlight moment being a perfect run to sixth in Austria.

Greater consistency was evident from both Grosjean and Haas through 2017, yet there were still swings in form that need to be ironed out in the future. The team was unable to capitalize on Renault and Toro Rosso’s late season difficulties that could have seen it jump to sixth in the constructors’ championship.

Grosjean once again proved himself to be a very competent and talented racer through 2017, but needs a little more panache – perhaps down to the car more than anything – if he is to put himself in the frame for a top-line drive in the future.

Haas continues to offer a good platform, though, and its third season should be its best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations. It will be a real chance for Grosjean to show what he can do.

Season High: A perfect run to sixth in Austria, leading the midfield cars.

Season Low: Crashing early with Ocon in Brazil, hurting Haas’ constructors’ hopes.