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Force India to remain in F1 under new name after takeover

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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) — Force India will remain in Formula One as a renamed team under new ownership following a successful consortium takeover by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

F1’s governing body, FIA, confirmed Thursday that the team can continue to compete as the Racing Point Force India team. The name change is because the team had to apply as an entirely new outfit.

British-based Force India was excluded from this year’s championship after going into administration last month.

A consortium of investors led by Stroll – the father of Williams F1 driver Lance Stroll – moved in to save Force India and its 400 employees by bringing it out of administration.

The sale of the business to the new consortium – known as Racing Point UK Limited – has officially gone through and the renamed team can resume racing at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

“We are very pleased that the situation has been resolved and that the team will continue to race in Formula One,” F1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey said. “It is also very gratifying that, in partnership with the stakeholders involved, we have been able to safeguard the livelihoods of the many hundreds of people working at its Silverstone base.”

The renamed team will lose all the points gained by Force India, which was sixth in the constructors’ championship with nine races left this season, and start again from scratch. Drivers Sergio Perez of Mexico and Esteban Ocon of France are not impacted and will retain their points.

Last month, Perez took legal action against Force India to save its immediate F1 future by forcing it into administration. Perez’s legal action was supported by creditors including engine supplier Mercedes.

Force India reportedly owes more than 10 million pounds ($13 million) to Mercedes and around 3 million pounds ($3.9 million) to Perez.

Reflecting on the takeover, Lawrence Stroll said “we will invest in new resources and bring fresh energy to empower the workforce.”

That could also mean signing his 19-year-son.

When asked at a news conference on Thursday if he was staying with Williams, the teenage driver did not commit.

“At the moment I’m at Williams, we’ll see what happens with me in the future and I wish (my father) all the best with Force India,” he said. “It’s definitely a very exciting future for him.”

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”