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My motives are misunderstood - Mallya

ESPN Staff
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Force India team principal Vijay Mallya insists he is not in Formula One for the publicity it generates.

The Indian businessman took over the struggling Spyker outfit in 2008 and has moved it gradually up the grid over the past five years. In 2011 the Sahara Group bought a 42.5% share in the team, but Mallya remained as the figurehead and continues to use the outfit to promote brands owned by his drinks conglomerate United Breweries.

However, Mallya, who leaves the day-to-day running of the team to deputy team principal Bob Fernley, says he has not drawn satisfaction from the publicity Force India has generated for him, but from seeing it gradually progress up the grid.

"I didn't get into Formula One or lead the team up gradually over the last five years to get publicity out of it," he told ESPN. "My satisfaction comes when the cars are right up there and scoring points.

"I think the team has become passionate about it, I noticed when I first took over the team in 2008 there was no passion. People were used to being in Q1 and there was no ambition to be in Q2 because it wasn't possible. So long as you were 17th or 18th you did a great job; so long as there was someone behind and you weren't the backmarker.

"I changed all that considerably. I put in the right tools, the right people and we've not been overambitious. We've set the goals year on year very realistically, but we have performed exactly as per expectation. I'm very pleased but whether the publicity comes with it or not is irrelevant to me."

Mallya, the self proclaimed "King of Good Times", has weathered a storm of negative publicity in India recently as his airline business has hit difficulties. But he insists he is not worried about how he is portrayed by the media in his home country.

"I come from India, I'm proud to be Indian, but I'm not proud of the Indian media," he added. "The Indian media are very irresponsible, very sensationalist and there are no libel laws so no-one is held accountable. So anybody can write whatever the hell they want. I've been at the receiving end of the Indian media for years and, frankly, I don't care anymore."

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