31 August 2009
Mallya denies 'team in trouble' speculation.
Despite Giancarlo Fisichella gaining Force India F1's first points in grand prix racing with second place at the Belgian Grand Prix, team owner Dr Vijay Mallya still had to face questions about both its future and that of the proposed race in his homeland.
Fisichella's pole position and runners-up finish were both being touted as vital boosts to the Silverstone operation, the latter opening F1's prize purse to Force India, but Mallya insisted that, despite speculation suggesting otherwise, the team was not in trouble.
"I don't know where these rumours are coming from about the team," he told Reuters from Spa-Francorchamps, "The team's alright, the team is in good shape and we are improving with every race - as you can see. I didn't get into it to get out of it.
"The airline industry is under pressure, but not only in India," he acknowledged, referring to one of the team's bigger backers, "My finances do not depend on the airline and neither do Force India's finances depend on the performance of any of my companies. Force India is securely funded and I am committed to stay here - as everybody knows."
Mallya also insisted that India's plans to host an F1 race remain on track, again despite rumours to the contrary. While a site has been finalised ahead of earthworks getting underway, a hitch with payment of monies to Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration threatened to stall progress.
As long ago as January, the Indian sports ministry rejected a request by race promoters JPSK Sports to pay $36.5m in foreign currency to FOA, with local media sources last week claiming that the ministry was saying that hosting a grand prix would not help to further the development of sport in the country.
"The Indian Grand Prix for 2011 is on track," Mallya insisted, "The promoters of the event have acquired land and spent a fairly significant sum of money in getting the track built, together with surrounding infrastructure.
"I think the recent media reports of the government of India ministry of sports not supporting the event is limited only to permission that the promoters sought to remit about $38 million to FOA, because we still have exchange controls in India. They ran into some difficulty with that. But in this entire environment of exchange control in India, this is not surprising at all.
"Maybe they just have to go back to the ministry of sports and give some better explanation. At the end of the day, its a lot of Indian rupees and so a typical government officer would not just readily sign off."
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