Mallya interested in buying Honda F1 outfit?December 22nd, 2008 - 11:43 pm ICT by IANS
Chennai, Dec 22 (IANS) After entering into a high profile tie-up with McLaren Mercedes Formula One team, Vijay Mallya, the owner of Force India, is said to have evinced interest in buying Honda outfit that last week pulled out of the 2009 series citing financial constraints.Although official spokesperson of Force India team Prakash Mirpuri declined to comment on the story that has appeared on several leading websites and in a London newspaper, insiders believe that there can be no smoke without fire, thus lending some credence to the news.
A major plus point with Honda is that they have a state-of-the-art facility at Brackley, Britain, and their 2009 F1 car is in its advanced stage of development.
There are three others in the race for the Honda team - Dave Richards of Prodrive, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and Greek shipping tycoon Achilleas Kallakis.
Richards lost considerable business after Subaru pulled out of World Rally Championship (WRC) in the wake of the global recession, and will reportedly fly to Middle East for talks.
Slim, who controls the telecommunications company Telemex, has already visited the Honda facility at Brackley.
Honda entered Formula One in 2000 as engine suppliers for the now-defunct British American Racing team that, coincidentally, was run by Richards, before entering a full-blown factory team in 2006. However, the team struggled to keep pace with the front runners.
Mallya, who has been in Formula One since his association with Benetton with which Michael Schumacher won the first of his seven World titles, bought out a struggling Spyker team for 68 million Euros in 2007 and renamed it as Force India.
At the moment, it is still debatable whether Mallya will go flat out on the Honda deal considering that he has plenty on his plate, not the least an airline, Kingfisher, that is facing turbulent weather in the wake of the global meltdown and credit crunch.
Further, the tie-up with McLaren is sure to boost his sagging Formula One fortunes as in effect, Force India that will receive the drive train from the woking-based outfit besides other inputs, notably KERS system developed by McLaren, will be a virtual replica of the World championship winning British team.
Ideally, it would make sense for Mallya to focus totally on Force India team in a bid to get it off the ground following a dismal debut season in 2008. In fact, for a large part of the season, Force India was pegged to the back of the grid with the exception of rare occasions to end the year without a single Grand Prix point.