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Mallya vows to put 'Team India' on F1 grid

Vijay Mallya in a press conference at MumbaiIndian billionaire Vijay Mallya has promised his country to do his best to bring India into Formula One - and the sport to India.

Mallya teamed up with Spyker's director of Formula One Michiel Mol to make an 80 million euro bid for the cash-strapped team.

A statement earlier today said their offer had been accepted by Spyker Cars, and the buyout will be completed within 30 days.

"Team India is on the F1 grid," Mallya declared proudly in a press conference held today at Mumbai.

Mallya will be the chairman and managing director and will nominate three directors to the board. The Mol family will nominate two directors.

"I have been dreaming about owing an Formula One team. I was looking at the right opportunity to show up at the right time," Mallya said.

Strongwind, the investment arm of the Mol family, and Watson Limited, which is owned by Mallya, are making the offer.

Mallya is the chairman and controlling shareholders of the UB Group, which has beer, spirits and airlines operations in India. His airline Kingfisher is a sponsor of the Toyota F1 team.

Spyker Cars posted a net loss of 29.9 million euros in the first half of the year, up from a loss of 1.1 million euros in the year-ago period. It has said it expects to make a loss this year. The Formula One team had a 13 million euro loss.

"I cannot comment on the 2008 budget now. If it has to go up by 30 to 40 per cent, and if it is justified, then we will tweak it," Mallya said.

"2008 will be the starting point for a gradual improvement. No miracles are going to be produced."

He said Spyker because of its status as a constructor is entitled to a share of television revenues and expects TV revenues of 25 million euros in 2008.

"The deal is good for Formula One. It's good for India and it's good for Formula One Management because viewership is going to shoot up now," he said.

But Mallya was cautious about the team's new name or their line-up next season.

"I would like to say that it would give me immense pleasure to see an Indian drive an Indian Formula One car, but we have to consult with team principal and chief technical officer," Mallya said, igniting hopes of the Narain Karthikeyans and Karun Chandhoks of the country.

"As of today I won't be able to commit whether Spyker Ferrari will continue to maintain the same name or not next season.

"What the name the new team will race under is subject to approval of other teams and the F1 management," he added.

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