On Oct. 7, Vijay Mallya denied that his Force India F1 team was for sale.
“Rubbish,” he thundered. “Speculative b-llsh-t.”
So today, six days later, it is announced that Mr. Mallya has sold half of his team.
It seems that Sahara India Pariwar, a big Indian promoter of, mainly, cricket, has purchased 42.5 per cent of Force India, which will be renamed Sahara Force India.
So much for truth in Formula One.
Or else this deal came together really, really quickly.
Said Mallya today: "The Sahara Group has played a very important role in the development of sport in the country and is an ideal partner to take the Force India F1 Team to greater success in the Formula 1 World Championship."
Prediction: Mallya’s gettin’ out of the sport, just like the Spyker car company and Canadian entrepreneur Alex Shnaider before him.
It would just be so refreshing, though, if people in this world generally, not just in F1, answered truthfully when asked a question.
How hard would it have been if Vijay Mallya, when asked that original question about the possible sale of his team, had replied:
“Not all of it. F1’s a tough business to be in. Sometimes, you need some help.”
Some people – media trainers and the like - would disagree with that, suggesting Mallya would be giving up control of the conversation.
And I would say anything’s better than showing the world that you’re a (insert word here; my choice would be one that starts with the letter “L.”)
Someone you can always count on to tell the truth is race driver James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, who’s leading the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year standings going into the last race of the IZOD IndyCar Season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday (3 p.m. on ABC, 4 p.m. on TSN2).
Asked if he is looking forward to the showdown with American rookie J.R. Hildebrand (Hinchcliffe holds a six-point lead, 302 to 296 despite missing the first race of the season), the Canadian said:
“I’m excited but sad at the same time. Nobody wants the season to end because it’s been a fun and very memorable year. I have very bittersweet emotions going into the final.”
All things being equal, when both drivers were running at the end of races this year, it’s been Hinchcliffe who’s come out on top at the checkers, which has put him 12th in the point standings to Hildebrand’s 14th.
“Yeah, I think for the most part, if both of us had problem-free races, we had his number a little bit. But it was just a little bit. It’s been close, back and forth. We’ve both been the victim of circumstances over the year.
"But he did have an extra race; even if we’d gone out of the race at Turn One in St. Pete (site of the season-opener, which he missed), we’d have 12 more points than we do now and be in a bit more comfortable position.
“Having said that, it’s been a fun battle all year so it should be fun on Sunday.”
Hinchcliffe, who said he expects to be back at Newman-Haas Racing in 2012, said Sunday’s race could be a “manic” event.
“We’ll have the biggest field outside of Indianapolis (34 cars are entered and all will start, including two other Canadians – Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani),” he said.
“It’s a new track, in that the series hasn’t raced there in a number of years. It’s widely known for really close, pack racing and those races are always a bit of a lottery and always difficult. You have to make sure you’re in the right place at the end. It’s going to be a long afternoon but it should be an exciting race.”
Hinchcliffe, who spent a number of seasons in the minors preparing for his shot at the majors (A1GP, Formula Atlantic, Indy Lights), said he’s pretty satisfied with his first season in the bigs.
“ I think the season has massively exceeded expectations,” he said. “Coming into a series that everybody agrees is now more competitive than it’s been in more than a decade, and with so little testing and practice time whether pre-season or in-season, the challenge has been monumental.
"As a team, we’ve met that challenge very well. We’ve shown competitive pace in qualifying and races. It’s not been a flash in the pan, it’s not that one track suits us better than another. We really have been a well-rounded effort and that’s something we can take pride in.
“In fact, I’d rather have a top five finish consistently than a podium on one type of track — a short oval or a road course — and be outside the top ten for the rest of the year. There’s been some rookie mistakes but I’m glad I made those because at some point you’ve got to expect those things and when you’re a rookie it’s a little more tolerated. As a combined effort, we’ve risen to the challenge.”
As mentioned, the season finale is in Las Vegas and, as expected in that town, there have been promotions and appearances all week along the Strip. Hinchcliffe, for instance, had to pick some music to accompany the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio and went for Luck Be a Lady and (“I went a little corny”) Viva Las Vegas.
And while he’s confident of having a good shot at the rookie title (oh, the series championship will also be decided Sunday, with Dario Franchitti shooting for his third straight and Will Power his first), Hinchcliffe also acknowledged having a chance to take the whole jackpot.
“We’ve been knocking on the door,” he said, “and this is going to be a big gamble track so it’s fitting we’re in Las Vegas. The winner here is up in the air because of the nature of the track and the nature of the racing.
"It’s not necessarily going to be the fastest driver or the fastest car; it’s going to be the guy who’s in the right place at the right time.
“Anybody’s got a shot at winning this one.”