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Vijay Mallya, Sahara Force India - Q&A

10 November 2011


Sahara Force India F1 team boss and managing director Dr. Vijay Mallya reflects on an emotional Indian Grand Prix and looks forward to the penultimate race of the year in Abu Dhabi.



Q:
The Indian Grand Prix weekend was obviously a huge one for you personally. How would you sum it up?

Vijay Mallya:
It was outstanding. It was emotional and there was a great sense of pride. It was a dream come true. When Force India became the first and only Indian team on the grid in 2008, it was a great moment for me too, but even at that time I really didn't think that India would ever host a Grand Prix. It couldn't be better, it was like the confluence of two dreams: owning an F1 team and racing on home turf. The icing on the cake was at least getting one car into the top ten and into the points.

Q:
Were you impressed with the track itself?

Vijay Mallya:
The drivers, and not just ours, have said that it is perhaps one of the best tracks in the world. It's got all the infrastructure and facilities you need. People may complain that the level of finish needs more attention, but that's because they completed it in a bit of a hurry. But otherwise the basics are there.

Q:
And what about the team's performance?

Vijay Mallya:
Adrian [Sutil] did a superb job: he kept his head and drove really well. He made sure he didn't give up ninth place. With Paul [di Resta] we knew exactly what we were doing, starting on the hard tyre and bringing him in early. Had there been a safety car, Paul's eventual race result might have been vastly different. But we had to take the gamble – no guts, no glory, I guess! Overall I'm quite happy with our performance and I don't think there's any reason why we should not feel proud of what we have done.

Q:
At this stage of the season points are precious in terms of the constructors' championship…
Vijay Mallya:

F1 becomes more and more competitive with each passing day. Toro Rosso has clearly made a huge step since Japan. We've also made a bit of a step with the upgrades we brought to India. But at the end of the day you never know until the last race is over. We found that out painfully last year when Williams pipped us by one point, but now I think we're comfortably in sixth position, ahead of Toro Rosso as well as Sauber. But it's never done until it's done.

Q:
The other big news in India was the announcement of your One from a Billion winner. How satisfying is it to be promoting Indian talent?

Vijay Mallya:
It is huge. Everybody has been quite critical of me, particularly in India, as to why I don't have an Indian driver in the car. They're trying to force comments out of me on the two Indian drivers that we currently have and I'm not going to fall into that trap. All I know is what's good for my team and that's what I've been doing. But I've often said that amongst 1.2 billion people there's got to be a Lewis Hamilton somewhere. We found three exceptionally talented kids, all 14 or under.

Q:
In India you indicated that you will make a decision on the drivers for 2012 sooner rather than later. Can you update us on that?

Vijay Mallya:
All the drivers have asked me to make an early decision, and I respect that. I have a big decision to make! But it's not made yet – I'm not the type of guy who's going to make a decision and string people along. When I decide I will just tell them the way it is and that's it.

Q:
Any thoughts on the rest of the season?

Vijay Mallya:
Only two races to go! We hope to do well in Abu Dhabi, particularly because we think the car is suited to the track. Let's see.


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