King’s Choice

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SummaryInvesting in Force India rather than in Kingfisher Airlines clearly shows Mallya’s priorities.

Formula 1 fans and especially team Force India supporters will surely rejoice over the fact that team owner Vijay Mallya has promised an investment boost of 50 million pounds to help move his team up the rankings in next year’s season. Fans should take heart that Mallya is willing to cater to their dreams of seeing Force India on the podium of the premier motorsport event rather than allocate his resources to mundane activities like keeping Kingfisher Airways afloat or paying the airline’s employees their salaries (many of whom haven’t been paid in for 8 months). After all, the around 2,000 Kingfisher employees still awaiting their salaries surely pale into insignificance in the face of the over 50 million Formula One viewers. And, while Kingfisher languishes on the brink of bankruptcy, the Force India team has been steadily improving its performance. At the moment, with the last race of the season yet to take place on Sunday, Force India are in seventh place overall on 99 points. While this is one rank lower than where they finished last year, the total points earned is a lot more—Force India had only 69 points at the end of last year’s season. This means that the team’s drivers—Paul Di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg—have been consistently performing better this year than the last. A fitting reason for an inflow of investment if there ever was one.

There could be another reason behind this investment. Vijay Mallya has already lost considerable face (not to mention a whole lot of money) over the mishandling of Kingfisher, putting paid to his prized policy of extravagance as an answer to all problems. But, as an example of the determination that made him the tycoon he is, Mallya seems to be following the same policy with Force India just to show that it wasn’t the idea that drove Kingfisher into the ground, but external factors. That, and he probably won’t be able to stand the humiliation at the world level that will follow Force India also shutting down or being sold.

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