Teixeira: Force India send wrong message

The Force India Formula One team are sending the wrong message to the country's many millions of motor racing fans, A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira said on Wednesday

Teixeira: Force India send wrong message

"(India's) Narain Karthikeyan won the (A1) race in China," he told Reuters ahead of the self-styled World Cup of Motorsport's season-ending round at Brands Hatch in southern England.

"I think A1 for all intents and purposes brings through the right messages into India by saying that India, although not a motor sport racing nation, can win the World Cup and can beat the rest of the world.

"Force India, on the other hand, is not giving that message to young Indian kids. It's doing the opposite," added the South African businessman.

"Our message is 'India, you can win. It's a winning sport, your kids can win for India.'

"Force India has got a long way to go before I see a podium or they see a podium.

"The Force India thing, although great for India, is a little bit negative in terms of youngsters and getting them to race if you are never going to win a race," said Teixeira.

"It's the wrong message. I think (Force India owner) Vijay (Mallya) is trying to set something up which is a long-term plan but it's not the right message having Force India and non-Indian drivers."

Indian billionaire Mallya bought the Spyker team last year and renamed it.

While having a strong Indian flavour, the British-based team have Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and German Adrian Sutil as their drivers with Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi as tester.

Despite a marked improvement in their performances since last season, they have yet to score a point this year in a sport dominated by Ferrari and McLaren.

"I think India wants to see India with Indian drivers. And India wants to see Indian drivers winning. Karthikeyan has proven that," said Teixeira.

"I don't see Force India winning a race in F1 for the next five years."

Karthikeyan, India's first Formula One driver, won a race for A1 Team India in Zuhai last December. Teixeira said India was a major market for the series, which hoped to increase its fan base further.

"We've always had two races in China and I think eventually we will race two races in India," he said.

"We are looking towards our first race in India next year, we were trying desperately to have it in the second half of our season which is early 2009 but it looks more like late 2009 in terms of logistics."

The single-seater series runs mostly during the European winter and will be starting its fourth season in October 2008.

Teixeira said the series, which made heavy losses in its infancy, could now look forward to a profitable future.

Formula One champions Ferrari will be designing the cars and providing engines after agreeing a six-year deal last October.

"The Ferrari brand gives us a credibility that we have so much been looking for," said Teixeira. "The support events that Ferrari will be running with us... makes us a much bigger series and brings and attracts the Ferrari clubs worldwide.

"People are now asking us to come and race," he added. "What I expected in year six or seven with a manufacturer, we've achieved for year four.

"All of a sudden federations who have never spoken to me, like Germany, are approaching us and saying what can we do to assist A1, how can we give you more drivers, how can we get more winners in Germany?

"We are looking at definitely breaking even and maybe sloping towards a small profit, definitely the days of losses have gone in the third season," said Teixeira.

"We are getting paid to race...the sanctioning fees in some cases are now up to $5 or 7 million. That's a far cry from coming in and paying to race," he added.

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