Sought-after Formula One driver Lance Stroll’s billionaire father Lawrence Stroll has struck a deal to buy the cash-strapped Force India team, according to reports in Germany.
Leading German automobile magazine Auto Bild says the deal would see the race track owner secure the 42.5 per cent stakes of Indian business tycoons Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy, with 15 per cent owner Michiel Mol supposedly keeping his minority stake.
The news comes amid reports that Force India is close to administration and near bankruptcy, with deputy team principal Otmar Szafnauer telling reporters at the recent German Grand Prix that money for development is almost non-existent.
Force India’s ownership issues have rumbled on for months since it was reported earlier this year that Mallya was looking to sell the team while he continues to fight extradition back to India. The 62-year-old was arrested by British police in April last year and is being pursued by Indian authorities for charges relating to money laundering and banks demanding he pay back substantial loans granted to his now-defunct airline.
The Silverstone-based outfit have been widely linked to a takeover deal with sports drinks company Rich Energy, but Mallya has moved to deny those rumours on a number of occasions.
Should Lawrence Stroll’s purchase of Force India come to fruition, however, it would alleviate the team’s financial concerns and reportedly secure over 400 jobs.
The takeover would also likely see Lance Stroll join his father at Force India. The 19-year-old has been widely linked with a move away from Williams, who are currently propping up Formula One’s constructors’ standings.