Force India team principal Dr Vijay Mallya has expressed his dismay at his team’s suspension from FOTA. The suspension, as yet unconfirmed, is expected to be the result of Force India’s unconditional entry to F1 in 2010, which disregarded the teams’ organisation’s conditional stance.
FOTA want the FIA to agree to their demands concerning the budget gap and the sport’s governance, but time and FOTA’s strength are ebbing away as the final entry list is announced on June 12th. Williams have also been suspended from FOTA for doing the same as Force India and so Mallya cannot be surprised at the suspension. But he protested to Autosport that his motives were different from Williams’.
“I have only been told by John [Howett], who is vice-chairman of FOTA executive committee, today for the very first time that the executive committee, when they had a teleconference call last week, that they decided to suspend us when we changed our entry to an unconditional entry.
“All I said to John was, the circumstances of Force India are quite different to the circumstances of Williams – first and foremost I was completely transparent with FOTA and gave them copies of correspondence with my bankers and lawyers.
Mallya went on to explain why he had had to enter.
“Basically F1, like in the case of any other business, relies on its bankers to provide ongoing capital support. As you would in any business, you go to the bank and demonstrate sources of income, the sources of income are from sponsorship and the disbursement of revenue from FOM arising out of the television income that you are fully aware of.
“Both these sources of income, which are sources of comfort for banks to lend money, would have been under threat if our entry was not accepted. So therefore we were legally advised that Force India might breach our banking covenants if we went down the route of a conditional entry and did not lodge an unconditional entry as always. All of this was completely shared with FOTA.”
The Indian magnate seemed philosophical about the outcome of his request to re-enter FOTA.
“If they appreciate it, well and good, if they don’t appreciate it then why should I lose sleep over it? I am doing what is good for Force India, first because I have a duty to comply with my legal obligations, I have a duty to the team and the company, and at the end of the day if it stops racing there is no business.
“Under the circumstances I had to do what I did. If FOTA membership cannot accept it then there is little I can do about it. Life goes on.”