24 June 2018 11:10 AM

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DARSHAN CHOKHANI | 11 JUNE, 2018

Vijay Mallya Caught in Legal Web Eases Himself Out Of Force India Formula 1 Team

“Purely personal”?


Last month it was revealed that Vijay Mallya has resigned from his role of Force India’s Formula 1 team’s director, handing the reigns to his son Siddharth in the board comprising the team’s other shareholders, including Sahara Group’s Subrata Roy.

Mallya has been engulfed in various legal battles with the Indian banks while his extradition case from the UK – where he currently resides – to India continues on. The Mallyas parted ways with their Indian Premier League team Royal Challengers Bangalore, but they are still rightful owners of Force India.

As things stand, they hold 42.5 percent shares with Roy having the other 42.5 percent and the remainder is held by Dutch businessman Michiel Mol – Mallya and Mol were the original buyers of the team from the previous owners with Roy joining in, in 2011.

Since moving to the UK and his passport being revoked, Mallya is unable to travel anywhere in the world which is why he can only attend the British Grand Prix and has been forced to set up a ‘command center’ at his home to keep track of the happenings during a race weekend.

The news of his resignation sparked off further rumours that the team is gearing up for a sale – potentially to Rich Energy Ltd. However, earlier in the year, Force India had put to rest any speculations regarding the buyout, but the rumours continue to rage on.

For Mallya, it is simply a passing of the baton. The move has since been described as a ‘personal’ one according to the team’s deputy principal Robert Fernley during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend. “It doesn’t really have any impact on the team,” he said on Mallya’s resignation.

“The day-to-day operations continue on under the management, as they’ve always done over the years. Vijay’s decision is purely a personal one, but from a Force India point of view it really is business as usual.”

Indeed, since Mallya still stays as the co-owner and team principal with his quotes featuring in the outfit’s pre-race press releases. Also, as per the documents, he is still the director of two other companies named ‘Force India Formula One Limited’ and ‘Force India Brand Limited’.

Besides the sale rumour, the team was also poised for a name change as it wanted to lure in more sponsors with a global name rather than a name tied down to one particular country. However, some unknown delays and no final decision meant it had to defer it for after the 2018 season.

The Indian-licensed team has done well over the years despite the limited budget as it finished fourth in two consecutive seasons in 2016 and 2017 – a feat achieved by them after beating some of the world champions outfits.

The 2018 season hasn’t gone the way the team wanted it to be as it faces some co-relations issues, but it still sits sixth in the standings behind Renault and McLaren after claiming a podium in Baku and are well placed in the midfield battle.
 

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