Silverstone: 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 The Force India co-owner’s diplomatic passport, which he carried as a member of the Rajya Sabha, was revoked in April with a judge in Mumbai issuing a non-bailable warrant for his arrest.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 Mr Mallya, who flew to Britain in March. He has had an indefinite right of residency there since 1992. In an interview inside his team hospitality at the British Grand Prix, Mr 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 And why after my passport has been revoked?”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.” The 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 team despite being unable to travel. “I have time to lead a far more regulated life,” he said. “I have the time to focus on things that I enjoy.”
The team ownership has been under scrutiny, with the business woes of Mr Mallya and co-owners Sahara Group raising speculation about a possible sale to raise cash. Sahara’s founder Subrata Roy has been under arrest since March 2014 after the company failed to comply with a court order to refund money raised from millions of small investors. “What is happening to either Mr Sahara or myself is really irrelevant to the team itself, its own stability and own operation and path forward,” said Mr Mallya. “There is absolutely no reason why I need to sell my stake, or liquidate my stake in Formula One,” he said....