Mallya: It sends a very wrong signal to the team to take pay drivers

Vijay Mallya with Adrian Sutil

Vijay Mallya with Adrian Sutil

Force India boss Vijay Mallya says that he will continue to resist going down the pay-driver path for his own Formula 1 team.

As many teams struggle financially at present, the power wielded by so-called pay-drivers – drivers whose sponsorship dollars may speak louder than their achievements – has intensified.

Although Adrian Sutil brings some backing to the team, Force India boss and co-owner Mallya insists that he will always select drivers on the basis of their talent.

“It sends a very wrong signal to the team to take pay drivers – I always consult my engineers and the technical director on the selection of drivers,” he is quoted by AFP news agency.

Believed to be referring to the choice between German Sutil and the Ferrari-linked rookie Jules Bianchi, Mallya added: “This was particularly true for 2013 when we had a choice of two, and finally we went with Adrian Sutil.

Vijay Mallya with Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and the Force India team

Vijay Mallya with Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and the Force India team

“That was largely because the key technical people in the team said ‘let’s go with him’.

“I did not want them to feel that all the efforts in producing a competitive car were going to be compromised on track because I had chosen a driver who wasn’t the best available.

“I have not gone with pay drivers, I’ve gone with drivers of talent and that policy will stay,” he insisted.

This weekend at Monza, a new reserve driver will get to work for Force India, running in Friday morning practice.

24-year-old James Calado, a frontrunner in the GP2 series, told British broadcaster Sky that he hopes that the new role leads him to the Formula 1 grid.

“It’s my only chance, probably, to show what I can do and hopefully be in line for a race seat in 2014,” he said. (GMM.)

Subbed by AJN.

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