By Andy Young, C4F1 digital writer
Force India have finally ended months of speculation by confirming Lance Stroll as a driver for the 2019 season, with the Canadian racer set to partner Sergio Perez.
The move comes after his father Lawrence Stroll led a consortium that purchased Force India’s assets mid-season, after the outfit fell into administration. This led to the team being rebranded as Racing Point Force India for the remainder of the season.
Racing Point Force India is delighted to announce that @lance_stroll will join the team for 2019 to race alongside Sergio Perez. Lance has pledged his commitment to the team as part of a long-term deal.— Racing Point Force India F1 (@ForceIndiaF1) November 30, 2018
Full story: https://t.co/5Op71I0Ndk pic.twitter.com/l91Yehg9Hk
Following this rebranding process, rumours began to intensify linking Stroll to the team, placing Esteban Ocon’s future as a full-time driver into serious doubt.
Ahead of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi Ocon was confirmed as Mercedes’ reserve driver for 2019, paving the way for Stroll to join the team.
He was soon confirmed in Force India’s line-up for the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, as his switch to the Silverstone-based team became the sport’s biggest unkept secret.
“This is the beginning of an incredibly exciting journey in my Formula One career,” enthused 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!”
Stroll made his F1 debut in 2017 with Williams alongside Felipe Massa, retiring from his first three races.
However, eyebrows were raised when he managed to secure third at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as a front-row start after a rain-hit qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix.
Despite an uncompetitive season in 2018 with Williams, there’s no denying that Stroll now has no excuse to begin accumulating consistent points finishes in 2019.
“I’m pleased that we can finally confirm Lance’s arrival to race alongside Sergio next year,” explained Force India’s Team Principal & CEO, Otmar Szafnauer.
“It gives us an exciting line-up with the perfect blend of youth, talent, and experience. We see huge potential in Lance and believe we can create an environment in which he can flourish.
“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.”