Lance Stroll has been finally confirmed as the new driver for Racing Point Force India. While the team may have only made it official now, Stroll moving to Force India was hardly a surprise and possibly the worst kept secret at Formula 1 this year. With billionaire father Lawrence's consortium of investors buying out the team from the Vijay Mallya led consortium, the move comes as hardly surprising. The Canadian moves to Racing Point from his time at Williams this year and will be stepping in place of Esteban Ocon. Lance Stroll will be joined by Sergio Perez in the pits.
Speaking on having Lance Stroll on board, Racing Point Force India Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer said, "I'm pleased that we can finally confirm Lance's arrival to race alongside Sergio next year," said Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer. "It gives us an exciting line-up with the perfect blend of youth, talent, and experience. Lance is only 20 and already has two years of Formula 1 experience under his belt, as well as a podium finish and a front row start. We see huge potential in Lance and believe we can create an environment in which he can flourish."
Making the shift, Lance Stroll said, "This is the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey in my Formula 1 career," he commented. "I look forward to working alongside a successful team with a great culture. It's a new challenge and I am excited to embrace this new opportunity!"
Stroll finished 18th in the 2018 driver's standings having scored six points, out of Williams' seven points over the season. The 20-year-old made his Force India debut earlier this week during the Abu Dhabi post-race test session.
Formerly known as Sahara Force India, Racing Point Force India had a tumultuous season this year with the team switching hands. After limited funds hindered its growth in the team, the team was put into administration by a Perez-led action as a means to buy time to make a new survival plan and secure the jobs of the team's 400 odd employees. The action was also supported by creditors including Mercedes and BWT. The move allowed Lawrence Stroll led group of investors to purchase the team, and started as a new entry midway into the F1 season.
With Toro Rosso having announced Alexander Albon earlier this week, Stroll's news means that all ten Formula 1 teams have now confirmed both their race drivers for 2019 - which, as expected, leaves Ocon off the grid in a test and reserve role for Mercedes.
"I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Esteban Ocon for his contribution to the team over the last two seasons and wish him well for the future," added Szafnauer.
Ocon, on the hand, has moved to a test and reserve role at Mercedes, in a big push back for the F1 driver. Sergio Perez was confirmed by the team in November this year, and has been signed on till the end of 2019. Lance Stroll's contract has been described as a long-term association by Force India.