Formula 1

Force India F1 team finally announces Lance Stroll’s 2019 deal

Racing Point Force India has finally confirmed Lance Stroll’s expected move to the team to partner Sergio Perez in the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Stroll graduated to F1 with Williams in 2017 as the reigning European Formula 3 champion and continued with the team this year.

His father Lawrence led the consortium that bought Force India’s assets after it fell into administration, leading to the team’s reincarnation as the Racing Point entry.

Stroll’s move from Williams became a formality after that but Force India wanted to wait until the future of Esteban Ocon, who Stroll will replace, was confirmed.

Ocon’s Mercedes’ reserve driver role was announced ahead of last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but Force India opted not to make any communication about Stroll.

The 20-year-old drove for the team for the first in the two-day post-race race tyre test, and his “long-term deal” as a race driver was confirmed on Friday afternoon.

“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.”

Stroll scored a best finish of third, in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP, at Williams.

“This is the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey in my Formula 1 career,” said Stroll.

“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.”

Szafnauer reckons Force India will be able to help Stroll “flourish”.

“Our team has enjoyed great success nurturing and developing young and talented drivers, and we are very excited to begin our journey with Lance,” he said.

“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.”

2019 F1 driver line-up

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc
Red Bull-Honda: Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly
Renault: Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg
Haas-Ferrari: Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean
McLaren-Renault: Carlos Sainz Jr, Lando Norris
Force India-Mercedes: Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll
Sauber-Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi
Toro Rosso-Honda: Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon
Williams-Mercedes: Robert Kubica, George Russell

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