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Mallya pushing for 2010 F1 race
Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | July 20, 2007 15:36 IST
Vijay Mallya [Images], chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kingfisher Airlines, says he is passionate about bringing Formula One to India as soon as he can.
"Given the sheer size of India and its booming economy, it should be on the Formula One calendar.
"I am pushing all I can to make sure that if not in 2009, India can host a race in 2010," Mallya said in an interview with Formula One, in response to a question if India is ready for a Grand Prix in the country.
Mallya has announced his company's partnership with Formula One earlier this year with the Panasonic Toyota Racing Team.
Asked about his plans to leverage his F1 involvement, Mallya said it is lifestyle.
"Look at the glamour around, the type of people who are involved in Formula One, the people who visit Formula One races and Formula One related events, the huge media turnout -- one could say it is the pinnacle of the fast life," he said.
"Those qualities fit perfectly with my philosophy of an airline. An Airline to me is not about cheap tickets but about enjoying flying. I want to go back to the days when travel was a luxury. I don't want to see it as a very basic transportation industry, ignoring completely the comfort of the passengers."
"That's why at Kingfisher Airlines we call all those who fly with us guests. We want them to enjoy the Kingfisher experience -- and that fits very well with the attitude of Formula One."
Mallya said it did not take him long to decide to participate in Formula One once it became clear that he was looking for a global platform.
"I have participated in Formula One with the Benetton team in the 1990's. I have a basic interest in Formula One. I am the chairman of the local FIA for the past 20 years so; motor sport is second nature to me.
"I follow Formula One closely so nobody needed to tell me about the enormous benefits of publicity that come out of Formula One sponsorships," he added.
Mallya admitted that Kingfisher evaluated other options, but found that Formula One is unique in terms of the kind of global exposure it is looking for.
"It is a global sport and the television viewership is truly international. If you want to reach out for the globe, Formula One is the only solution," he said.
He said Indian companies have focused largely on the domestic market, and there is a big logic in this. China is an export-oriented economy with a small domestic demand while India is the other way around. He said that while India has a huge and growing domestic economy, there are also Indians who acquire companies overseas.
"India was a low cost economy where cost savings were achieved by outsourcing. Now India has many competitive skills and when we Indians acquire overseas companies it is not only for cost cutting reasons but because we can improve the operating performance of those companies, and can look what potential market could be in India itself," he said.
Regarding sponsorship, Mallya said this is not only a question of sponsorship but the whole attitude towards marketing and advertising.
"Marketing and advertising as it is understood in the western world is mainly exercised by multinational companies operating in India. But now Indian companies understood that if they want to compete with multinationals and their aggressive marketing methods, they need to become marketing savvy.
"And in the process of becoming marketing savvy I can see a lot of Indian companies getting ready for global sponsorship."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage