Runaway billionaire Vijay Mallya may believe that he has escaped the long arm of the law and the public attention with his tour to England. But he was put in a tough spot with questions that intentionally bordered on F1, but also on his tax evasions and the bad name he will bring to the sport.
At a press conference on Friday in the UK, Vijay Mallya was on the podium representing his F1 team Force India alongside the other representatives. The liquor baron, however, was singled out for questions that pertained more to his fugitive status and fortunes than his team's fortunes this season.
"You say you are passionate about the sport, and you are the FIA rep of India. You don't want to go back to India to solve the problem. What would you say to people who say that you are doing the sport damage?", a reporter asked.
“Nobody has ever said that I am doing the sport any damage. Irrespective of where in the world, I am physically present. Does not affect my contribution in any part of the world, certainly in India. I have been used to managing the multinational group of companies for the past 30 years, and I could not possibly be physically present in each territory in which my business interest operate. And yet I manage to guide and contribute, and that continues,” Mallya said.
"You said things have to still go through
“First of all, respect the fact that this is FIA press conference about motorsport and not about my ability to travel. Having said that, when the due legal process follows its logical course, your questions will be automatically answered. Till then, my job is to make sure that Force India continues to perform and closes the gaps,” the 60-year-old said.
While Mallya choose to ignore the jibes, the clamor within the sport that he is bringing only a bad name to the sport as a refuge of tax-evaders is rising. The sport which has never had a dearth of reasons to be vilified just keeps finding new ones every now and then.
Also, read: Formula One’s fall from grace