For long the world had hesitated to acknowledge the advent of India in Formula One. But Indian racing has slowly but surely made its presence felt in the global circuit. With the launch of Force India-F1 team, the Dream of being a force to reckon with in the Racing World will soon be realised.
Vijay Mallya’s take over of the Spyker Formula one team resulted in a new team which is now christened Force India. The liquor baron unveiled the soldiers who will be driving the Indian Dream on the racing track. Amidst the entire media blitz surrounding the launch speculation was rife that an Indian Driver would find his way into the team. But it was not meant to be.
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella a veteran of 196 Grand Prix’s will be the lead driver of the Team. German Adrian Sutil and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi will be the other two drivers in the team. Fisichella has 18 Podiums and 3 Race Wins to his credit and has been driving in F1 since Melbourne 1996. Fisichella had partnered Alonso last year. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi are relatively inexperienced.
Mallya has successfully blended youth with experience. On the issue of not having a F1 driver in the line up, Vijay Mallya said, “We are not against an Indian Driver, but the fact is that we don’t have one. We have to make one” On Narain’s recent win in China, Mallya added, “Narain has just posted his first win in A1 GP, but it’s kind a long way off from the kind of performance we expect from our drivers. The engineering team has to benefit from the Drivers”
Mallya went on to promise that the 2008 car will be atleast one and a half seconf quicker than the Spyker Last year. Thus the team should not be right at the bottom of the points table. Team Principal, “We have been pushing really hard to catch up in the aero department. We are running in a very intensive programme. The Budget has been increased and additional wind tunnel have been possible”
The stakes have been increased from $70 million last year to $120 million this year, which makes it almost on par with the other teams. But Mallya firmly believes that money cannot buy performances. Mallya has also promised a podium finish by 2010.
An Indian team having German and Italian drivers is a sure sign of Globalisation. The Business Acumen of Mallya was depicted in his choice of Drivers. Mixing Business with nationalistic fervour, Mallya is not in Formula one for some philanthropic purpose but is here to make money. Mallya has the Golden Midas touch among India’s entrepreneurs. Comparisons with Sir Richard Branson do not stop at the goatee and the ear ring. Beer bottles, planes, swimsuit calendars, he has done it all. Mallya’s portfolio now extends to 60 businesses, yielding hundreds of millions in annual profits.
Mallya went on to add that, “It’s a tough environment, very challenging, but from 2008 the world will see that Force India F1 means serious business, on and off the track.”
It’s the first time in the 58-year history of Formula One that a team is named after a country. Something for all Indians to be proud of. But Mallya would be knowing that in this sport its performance that alone matters. It is yet to be seen whether Force India will become a force in Formula one to reckon with, or will just fade away as many other formula one teams have done.
Wishing Mallya and Force India the very best!