Sergio Perez and Force India boss Vijay Mallya
Force India has been competing in Formula One since 2008. Over the course of some 170-odd races, the team has hit the podium five times.
In 2016, it finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship thanks to Sergio Perez landing in the 3rd podium spot twice during the season. Now the team boss and founder could be landing himself on an extradition flight to bring him back to India.
Vijay Mallya was recently arrested in London, where he currently resides. He was nabbed by the local police force’s extradition unit acting on behalf of Indian authorities. Mallya is being accused of fraud, and he’s also reportedly left a ton of unpaid bills behind.
This is a man who is known as The King of Good Times in his native India. He lives a lavish lifestyle and subscribes to the “work hard, play hard” ethos. That means running a Formula One team, trying to get an airline off the ground, and operating companies that sell alcohol and a handful of other products.
His Kingfisher Airlines never grabbed a hold in its main market. The dream was to operate the airline in a manner similar to Richard Branson and Virgin or Tony Fernandes and AirAsia. That never came to be, and it led to those massive debts needing to be repaid. Mallya left India in March 2016, but Indian officials soon canceled his passport. They wanted him back in the country, and it looks like that is all coming to fruition.
Vijay Mallya is dismissing these actions as media hype, and states he simply travels back and forth between the United Kingdom and India quite often. This is most likely true, especially since Force India is based in Silverstone. Still, this could deal a large blow to the team and any sponsors that just forked over bundles of cash.
That is, of course, remains to be seen and depends if this is really just “media hype” or the beginning of a sad trip back to India for Vijay Mallya.