Mallya back in F1 paddock, India a step too far

Fri Jul 8, 2016 10:54am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Vijay Mallya has set foot in the Formula One paddock for the first time this season but attending races outside Britain, let alone returning to India, remains a step too far for the exiled tycoon.

The Force India co-owner's diplomatic passport, which he carried as a member of the Indian parliament's upper house, was revoked in April with a judge in Mumbai issuing a non-bailable warrant for his arrest.

Indian authorities trying to recover about $1.4 billion from his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines want to question Mallya, who flew to Britain in March. He has had an indefinite right of residency there since 1992.

In an interview with Reuters inside his team hospitality at the British Grand Prix, Mallya made clear his reluctance to return "unless assured of a fair trial in India, if at all there needs to be a trial.

"I am willing to answer all their questions. But why only in India? And why after my passport has been revoked?" he added, saying any hearing could as easily be done in England or by video conferencing.

"For me, England is as much home.

"It's frustrating that you can't just get on a plane and go but hopefully the legal process will restore my rights sooner rather than later," added the Indian, who bought his country home from the father of world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The 60-year-old beer baron, looking slimmer than in recent times, said he was in good shape "contrary to what people may think" and was more involved with his Silverstone-based team despite being unable to travel.   Continued...

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya waves in the paddock during the third practice session of the Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, October 27, 2012.  REUTERS/Ahmad Masood