Mallya responds to Teixeira comments 01 May 2008
Force India owner Dr Vijay Mallya has responded to comments made by A1GP promoter Tony Teixeira suggesting the team are sending out the wrong message to Indias growing number of motorsport fans.
In an interview with news agency Reuters, Teixeira suggested that Force Indias relative lack of success this season - and their decision to hold off on running an Indian driver - was not promoting a winning mentality among young Indians.
I am amused by the comments of Mr Teixeira, promoter of the A1GP series, on how Indians should view motorsport in general and Force India's participation in the FIA Formula One World Championship in particular, said Mallya.
Mr Teixeira is better advised to comment on his native South Africa and his self-styled World Cup of Motorsport that is nothing more than a standard single-seater series.
Trying to reach out to India's youth by encouraging participation in and the temptation of winning a title in a series that does not even begin to compare with GP2 or F1 is just promoting mediocrity amongst young Indians who aspire to be world class. This, indeed, is a wrong message which seems to be an act of desperation given the huge and growing support for Formula One and the Force India Formula One team.
I am sure that Indians could win so-called world titles at B or C-grade levels of any sport quite easily, but competing at the very highest international level is not only a matter of pride but proves a nation's ability to participate and do so.
The Force India Formula One Team is the first ever Indian entry in the FIA Formula One World Championship and has harnessed international resources. This cannot be commented upon as being negative given that the Indian national cricket team has long had foreign coaches, the best of Indian technology companies have harnessed international resources and the much celebrated Tata Nano car has imported components. For that matter the world champion Ferrari Formula One team has Brazilian and Finnish drivers and is no less Italian in the process!
As far as Mr Teixeira's comments on how the Ferrari association with the A1GP series will stimulate interest, perhaps I should remind him that Force India F1 cars are also powered by Ferrari engines.
I question Mr Teixeira's competence in speaking about the aspirations of our Indian youth and what message should be sent to them in the context of motorsport. Perhaps I should remind Mr Teixeira that my companies reach out to hundreds of millions of Indians each day through our products and services and we are not only better informed but equipped to meet the aspirations of our youth. And I certainly will not tempt them with mediocrity or false pretences. Instead, I will encourage world-class thinking and actions and, through Force India, demonstrate that an Indian team can compete at the very pinnacle of motorsport and not just in a comparatively mediocre single-seater formula series.
As the head of the Indian National Motorsport Federation, I am also perfectly aware not only of the interest but also participation in motorsport over the past 25 years. It is inappropriate for Mr Teixeira to say that India is not a motorsporting nation. Perhaps, the number of Indian motorsport enthusiasts will exceed the population of many countries that Mr Teixeira is familiar with.
Finally, I have committed that Force India will identify and groom an Indian driver to eventually participate in F1 through national and international karting and GP2. I hope to achieve this over a period of five years.
The arrival of Force India on the FIA Formula One World Championship grid has already trebled television viewership in just four races and generated a huge fan following amongst Indians who take pride in seeing their team compete with the best in the world.
Further, a reputed Indian group has already invested considerably towards building a new race track to host a Formula One Grand Prix in 2010 outside New Delhi. This is ample demonstration of support from those who are developing large stakes in the sport. Irresponsible and ill-informed statements will not change the waves of support for Force India or India's growing enthusiasm for Formula One.