SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Force India principal and co-owner Vijay Mallya has silenced any further talk of a Formula One boycott, saying his team never intended to do anything other than race.
“Here I am fighting with McLaren. I want to beat McLaren. If I park my car, I might as well just accept that I am where I am in the championship and go home,” he told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“Why would I come here, or for that matter have gone to Austin or gone to Sao Paulo, or go to Abu Dhabi, with the whole shooting match if I didn’t want to compete?
Teams arrived in Brazil after a Texan race weekend dominated by talk of financial failure and a possible protest gesture by those demanding a bigger share of the $900 million pot of revenues.
Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley had said in Austin before the race, when there was talk of a possible boycott by teams determined to make others aware of the gravity of the situation, that nothing had been ruled out.
In the end, the race proceeded normally.
Since then Marussia have gone out of business while Caterham are trying to raise money through crowd-funding to compete in Abu Dhabi. Both teams went into administration last month and were absent from Austin.
“Who said that we wanted to boycott the race? Please tell me. If I am wrong, you educate me,” said Mallya, speaking in his paddock office at the Interlagos circuit, when asked about Austin.
“I speak on behalf of Force India. I have never said that we are going to boycott,” he added. “Why would we? We have come to go racing. I may as well have stayed in England and saved all the expense.
“We are racing all the way down to the wire. From my perspective you can kill it off (the boycott talk),” he added.
Mallya said he could not reconcile the financial troubles of some teams with the $900 million share of the revenues in a sport that generates some $1.7 billion.
“The way it is distributed is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” he declared, while emphasizing that Force India were not under any threat.
He pointed out that his drivers were challenging McLaren for fifth place on a far smaller budget but said he was willing to accept a voluntary cost cap in exchange for a more equitable distribution of money.
Discussions between the teams and commercial rights holder are continuing in Brazil.
“One of the things that we have offered as part of our request for more equitable distribution of pattern of income is that we will impose a voluntary cost cap on ourselves. So let the big teams, before demanding more money, also agree to a cost cap for themselves,” said Mallya.
“They want more to spend more.”
“All we are saying is that we want to stay strong and keep participating in the F1 world championship. Please help us with more equitable distribution of funds. If the engines were $10 million instead of $20 million maybe we would not make the pitch we are making now,” added the Indian entrepreneur.
“Costs have gone up, income hasn’t proportionately and those that make the engines, charge an arm and a leg for those engines and also make more money. It makes no sense.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis