I’ve just read this article on Autosport, which in essence is about India’s participation in motor sport, primarily Formula One and A1GP, for which Tony Teixeira is the chairman of. Teixeira talks about Narain Karthikeyan, so-called the fastest Indian in the world, and his success in the A1GP series. Karthikeyan has raced in Formula One before with Jordan, but due to the instability in the team and the eventual changing of hands to the Midland group, Narain didn’t get another chance to show his worth in the sport. But racing with the Indian A1GP team, Karthikeyan has given the country it’s first win in the series and continues to promote the sport in his home country. And it is promotion that Teixeira feels Formula One team Force India are getting wrong.
Force India is in fact the same team that Karthikeyan drove for back in 2005, although it has changed hands a few times since. Currently, Indian businessman Vijay Mallya owns the squad and has invested much needed funds into the development and improvement of the team. Only last weekend did the outfit show off their new motor home in the Spanish paddock, equaling the already impressive McLaren Brand Centre located next door. Considering the difference in budgets the two teams run on, the new-and-improved image is certainly a strong statement.
But A1GP’s chairman doesn’t feel the team, which does have ‘Indian flavours’, are sending out the right message to the millions of Indian fans who cheer Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil at the races.
The Force India thing, although great for India, is a little bit negative in terms of youngsters and getting them to race if you are never going to win a race.
It’s the wrong message. I think Vijay is trying to set something up which is a long-term plan but it’s not the right message having Force India and non-Indian drivers.
I don’t see Force India winning a race in F1 for the next five years. Tony Teixeira.
From that, I would suggest Teixeira wants the message to be something like ‘It’s not the taking part, it’s the winning that counts.’ Or, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, count your losses and give up.’ Honestly, that is exactly what went through my mind when I read those quotes from the A1GP boss. Of course winning is important, but it was Tony who mentioned children in his quote. Had he been talking about grown men and women then obviously it is all about the winning. And be it far from me to suggest to someone how they should run their team or racing series, but attitude is very important, as is persistence, determination, and waiting a little while (ie. more than four races) before judging. These are my own personal beliefs, I hasten to add, but polite, patient and respectful they certainly are.
The whole article seems to read as a ‘big-up’ for A1GP, and perhaps the comments about Force India were just to draw attention to himself and the series. There was also a small part about the Formula One team not running an Indian driver, but this is easily rebutted with performance reasons. If Mallya could find an Indian driver with the experience and capabilities of Fisichella, I’m sure he’d sign them up – it would be a marketing dream for the squad. Alas, I can only presume Mallya believes Karthikeyan, or any other Indian driver, is not at that level just yet.
India will almost certainly become a major force in international motor sport in the future, and it is the intention to hold a race there next season. But instead of slagging off the efforts of Mallya and his team, surely he should be praising their participation and offering verbal support privately or through the media, rather than suggesting that because they aren’t winning yet, they should not compete.