- Full name Vijay Mallya
- Birth date December 18, 1955
- Birthplace Karnataka, India
- Current age 59 years 160 days
- Teams Force India
- Other roles Team Owner, Principal
Known as the 'Branson of Bangalore', flamboyant Indian billionaire Dr Vijay Mallya has been instrumental in dragging Force India (formerly known as Jordan, Midland and Spyker) off the back of the grid in recent years.
The first Indian to own an F1 team, Mallya headed a consortium to buy out the Spyker F1 team in 2007 with Dutch tycoon Michiel Mol for €88 million, although he has been financially involved in the sport since his Kingfisher brand sponsored the Benetton team in the 1990s.
He made his fortune in the drinks industry, becoming chairman of the United Breweries Group at 28. Since then the group has grown into a multi-national conglomerate of over sixty companies. Although the businesses' key focus is the drinks industry it also has interests in engineering, agriculture, IT, aviation and leisure. In 2005 he established Kingfisher Airlines, although that frontier of his empire has struggled financially in recent years and flights were grounded in October 2012 due to complaints from unpaid staff. A keen sports fan, Mallya also owns the Indian Premier League cricket team, the Bangalore Royal Challengers, who were captained in 2009 by former England captain Kevin Pietersen.
Despite signs of improvement in the 2008 season, Force India failed to score a single point in their inaugural year. Later that season Mallya took over as team principal and announced a partnership with McLaren, which would also bring Mercedes engines.
Despite admitting his desire to see an Indian F1 driver at the wheel of a Force India car when he bought the team two years ago, Mallya cannot be accused of favouritism and insists on having the two best drivers his team can afford. In 2010 Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi firmly established the team in the midfield and it only missed out on sixth in the constructors' title by a single point to Williams. However, off the track 2010 was tainted by legal squabbles with Italian windtunnel operator Aerolab (which Force India lost) and two technical directors, James Key and Mark Smith, leaving for rival outfits.
Nevertheless, the team continued to improve in 2011 and promoted Mercedes-backed Paul di Resta to a race drive alongside Adrian Sutil. In October 2011 the Indian conglomerate Sahara Group invested $100 million in the team in return for a 42.5% share, with Mallya retaining 42.5% and the Mol family reducing its holding to 15%.