As time and allegations have moved on, perhaps it was a matter of time before Force India owner, Vijay Mallya, stepped down to face his legal battles. We’ve often wondered how this team managed to do as well as they do with the distraction of having the owner facing major legal troubles in India.
It was announced today that Mallya would step down as director of the team and according to Autosport, the role may be handed to Mallya’s son, Siddarth.
“I continue as team principal,” Mallya said.
“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.”
As we’ve discussed on our podcast, if there was a team ripe for a potential acquisition, it may be Force India given the issues the owner faces but no such sale has happened yet and Autosport were keen to ask:
“Rumours keep going on and on and on, and people talk and talk and talk,” he said.
“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 focusing on getting the best performance out of the car, and that is our priority. We’re focusing 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.”
Chances are, having ran as high in the constructor’s championship as they have, that “Serious offer” might be very high and perhaps this is why the team hasn’t been sold yet but that’s just speculation on my part.
Mercedes had said earlier this year that they too would be interested in the kind of B-team relationship that Ferrari enjoys with Haas F1 as a “Listed-parts” provider but right now, they are focused on their championship. Williams and Force India are both customer teams but Claire Williams was quick to suggest they weren’t interested in that kind of deal leaving Force India and obvious choice. Autosport were also keen to ask Vijay about that possible link-up:
“I have not had any discussions with Mercedes, they have not made any approach to us,” he said. “This hasn’t even featured in casual discussions.”
Regardless, I have to take my hat off to Bob Fernley and the team for what they have been able to produce these last few years given the financial constraints they are under and the legal issues their owner faces.
Of all the teams on the grid, Force India is one of the few who still seem to understand the concept of hustling for sponsors and endorsements and they’ve done a great job of finding the resources they need and then punching above their weight as well as making best use of their Mercedes power.
There is a part of me that thinks this move is also to protect the team but I’m no attorney so don’t quote me, that’s just a hunch.
Hat Tip: Autosport