Indian plutocrat Vijay Mallya, an airline and drinks tycoon, an Indian legislator, and the chairman of Formula One team Force India, showed Friday how he built a billionaire's business empire by naming himself team principal and casting off team...
Indian plutocrat Vijay Mallya, an airline and drinks tycoon, an Indian legislator, and the chairman of Formula One team Force India, showed Friday how he built a billionaire's business empire by naming himself team principal and casting off team manager Colin Kolles, technical director Mike Gascoyne, and corporate and business director Patrick Missling. The move comes less than a week after the end of the 2008 Formula One season.
In what the England-based team calls a streamlining, Mallya combines his chairman position with that of team boss to become more hands-on and "to play a greater role in the direction of the team," a team statement read. First-year Force India, with veteran Giancarlo Fisichella and newcomer Adrian Sutil as drivers, was the only team contesting all 18 races that did not score a point in the 2008 season.
Robert Fernley will assist Mallya in running the team. Design director Mark Smith and technical director James Key will be charged with designing the VJM02.
The team also ended a year early its engine contract with Ferrari, a deal inherited from previous team owner Spyker. The change clears the way to use McLaren Mercedes drivetrains as well as kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), a system to be introduced in 2009.
"Force India is my most difficult project to date and it has become clear that it requires more direct input from my side and greater performance accountability," Mallya said in a statement. "We have come a long way this season, but we need more, and that requires some radical reorganization of the management structure to ensure the maximum productivity.
"I would like to thank Colin Kolles for his tireless efforts in keeping such a small team alive and to Mike Gascoyne for bringing his wealth of technical expertise. Both have played an instrumental part in making the team what it is today. On Monday Nov. 10, I will announce the new technical direction of the team as well as the appointment of a new chief operating officer, who will assume overall responsibility for our Silverstone and Brackley facilities, race and test operations."
Kolles, whose fallback career is dentistry, managed the Midland team after the 2005 sale of longtime F1 entrant Jordan to Russian-Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider. Kolles stayed on after Dutch high-end sports-car maker Spyker bought and campaigned the team for the 2007 season.
Gascoyne is the well-traveled former Cambridge student whose career has included stints at McLaren, Sauber, Tyrrell, Jordan, Benetton (later Renault), Toyota, where he became the highest-paid engineer in F1 at a reported $8 million annually, and Spyker. Jordan was the first team to employ him as technical director. He was chief designer for Spyker.
Missling was chief operational officer for Spyker.