May 31, 2018 6:51:12 pm
Vijay Mallya has stepped down from his role as director of the Force India Formula 1 team but he will continue to remain a shareholder and Team Principal. The businessman was part of the consortium that had bought the Spyker team back in 2007 and it was subsequently renamed as ‘Force India’. The reported fee of the transaction was 90 million Euros.
Since then, the team has gone from strength to strength, achieving fourth place finish in the constructors’ championship in the last two seasons. On Thursday, Mallya announced he was stepping down from his duty on the board will continue to the lead the team and be the co-owner, along with Sahara chief Subrata Roy and the Mol family (based in Netherlands). The responsibility on the board is expected to go to his son Siddharth.
“I continue as team principal,” Mallya told Motorsport.com. “There was no compulsion anywhere to resign, it’s just that I decided that my son should replace me. I have my own legal issues to take care of. So it’s better that the company remains unaffected.”
Mallya also downplayed suggestions that the team is close to being put to sale. “Rumours keep going on and on and on, and people talk and talk and talk. That’s what the F1 paddock is all about. The finances of Force India, whether I’m selling or not selling, has been a matter of speculation on and off for many years. We don’t go around with a for ‘sale sign.’ The bottom line is that we are focussing on getting the best performance out of the car, and that is our priority. We’re focussing on getting more sponsors. There are three shareholders, remember, I’m not the only one. If somebody comes along with a serious offer, and puts cash on the table, we will jointly consider it.”
Force India are presently sixth in the constructors’ championship on 26 points, with Sergio Perez’s podium in Azerbaijan Grand Prix the team’s 2018 highlight so far. The team have been on the podium a total of six times with the first one coming at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing third. Since then, Perez has been the only driver to have achieved podium finish for the team – at 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, 2015 Russian Grand Prix, 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, 2016 European Grand Prix and 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Current team includes Perez and Frenchman Esteban Ocon.
Mallya, 62, is on trial for the UK court to rule if he can be extradited back to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores, watched the proceedings from the dock. The liquor baron was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant in April 2017 and has been out on bail on a bond worth 650,000 pounds. Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot is expected to pronounce her verdict in the case by May.
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