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No Indian fit the bill, says Vijay Mallya

Special Correspondent

Push in the right direction is need of the hour

MUMBAI: Force India F-1 will not have an Indian driver for now. “The engineering team needs to benefit from the drivers. We had to choose the driver to fit the purpose. No Indian driver did,” said Vijay Mallya, CMD of Force India team, at the drivers launch here on Thursday night.

Giancarlo Fisichella, will drive for Force India Formula One team in the 2008 FIA F-1 World Championship. Adrian Sutil is the second driver, while Vitantonio Liuzzi has been confirmed as test driver. German driver Sutil is competing in his second season in F-1, after joining the team as the 2006 Japanese F-3 champion.

Italian Liuzzi has three years FI experience with Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

“Karun Chandok, in his own words, has said that he needs one more year in GP2 and I think that is correct,” said Mallya, announcing that Force India’s funding has been increased from $70 million in 2007 to $120 million this season, bringing in experienced drivers and technical backup.

Serious project

“Force India F-1 is a serious project and we wanted to make a statement to this effect with our drivers’ line-up. Money is not the issue now, we need drivers who will push the team and give us direction,” he said.

Mallya’s F-1 ambitions are clear. “Force India will demonstrate to the world in the coming years that it is on the right track, upward on the grid. When the 2010 Indian GP comes, we will occupy a place on the podium,” he said, announcing that the Indian national anthem will be played if and when a Force India driver wins a race.

“For that to happen, the team entry has to be on an Indian entrance licence, issued by the ASN of FIA (world motor sports body) in India.”

He said that Motorsport Association of India (MAI) and Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI), the two bodies running the sport in the country, would merge into a unified entity named the Motorsport Federation of India by April 1, 2008.

The new body will be the ASN (National Sports Association) for India, recognised by FIA.

Mallya is chairman of MAI and FMSCI.

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