Sahara Force India is continuing its partnership with the Hype Energy drink company in 2016. Hype branding will be seen on the cockpit of the VJM09, the inside of the rear wing end plate, as well as on the drivers’ suits.
Hype’s involvement in F1 began as long ago as 1995, soon after the drink was launched by Barry Cox, the man who had previously founded the Hard Rock Cafe brand. From the start the company invested heavily in motorsport, backing the Arrows F1 team and later Benetton and Williams, in addition to sponsorship in NASCAR and motorcycle racing. This created a level of recognition.
In 1997 the former F1 driver and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Bertrand Gachot became the French distributor of the brand. Gachot started his F1 career with Moneytron Onyx in 1989 and then moved on to try to qualify for Rial and Coloni before joining the new Jordan Grand Prix in 1991, alongside Andrea de Cesaris. That same year Bertrand won the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Mazdaspeed Mazda 787B, partnered by Volker Weidler and Johnny Herbert.
Ironically, he is probably best remembered for an incident in London when he had an altercation with a taxi driver and used a self-defence spray which led to him being sent to prison for two months. This opened the way for Michael Schumacher to make his F1 debut at Spa. Gachot returned to F1 and joined the Larrousse team in 1992. He dropped out of F1 in 1993, working with Keith Wiggins to create the Pacific Grand Prix team, of which he was a shareholder. The team never had sufficient money and had to rely on pay-drivers.. It closed down at the end of 1995.
Experience with drinks companies in F1 led Gachot to invest in Hype and in 1998 he began negotiating to buy the entire company. The deal was completed in 2000 and Gachot has concentrated on that ever since. The drink is now sold in 45 countries and is a major player in the Middle East and North Africa. Hype sells around 100 million cans of drink a year.