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Force India adds Szafnauer in reshuffle

Force India has undertaken a major management reshuffle, AUTOSPORT can reveal, with former senior Honda figure Otmar Szafnauer replacing Simon Roberts as chief operating officer.

Although the news has not been officially confirmed, AUTOSPORT understands that team owner Vijay Mallya and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh addressed Force India's staff at its Silverstone base on Wednesday to reveal the changes.

No explanation has been made for why the restructure has taken place, which comes on the back of a dramatic upturn in form for the team following its tie-up as a technical partner of McLaren and Mercedes this season.

Roberts arrived at the outfit as a virtual unknown outside of McLaren, but he has impressed with his efforts and approach this season to help guide Force India to its maiden pole position and podium performances.

AUTOSPORT understands that Roberts will now return to his former team McLaren to take up a senior engineering and management role.

The restructure marks a full-time return to F1 for Szafnauer, who left his position as vice president of Honda Racing Developments shortly before the Japanese manufacturer quit grand prix racing at the end of last year.

He has spent this season working on an official Formula 1 iPhone application and has been a regular in the paddock.

Force India was unavailable for comment to confirm the news on Wednesday, with personnel travelling to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix. It is understood Mallya is due to address the race crew at Interlagos to confirm the changes ahead of the race weekend.

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Force India confirms Szafnauer as COO