• Force India

Mallya admits Perez opens up 'a whole new opportunity'

ESPN Staff
December 12, 2013 « FIA announces new pole trophy and permanent numbers on helmets | Perez backs new points rule »

Vijay Mallya admits the signing of Sergio Perez will open up commercial opportunities for Force India but says he was only hired for his driving talent.

Perez was announced as Nico Hulkenberg's team-mate on Thursday, joining Force India from McLaren. Despite an impressive season with Sauber before his McLaren move, Perez also comes with substantial Mexican backing and Mallya confirmed that Force India was looking at more global sponsors to get involved with the team.

"Obviously the signing of Sergio opens up a whole new opportunity for us in that part of the world," Mallya said. "We will certainly target sponsors from Mexico and other Latin American countries, so it's a new opportunity being opened up.

"Traditionally the cars and the team kit have carried a lot of the brands of the owners of Sahara Force India - the Sahara brands as well as UB Group brands - but that's changing and particularly with the new venues in Formula One that is likely to change even further going forward."

However, Mallya was keen to stress that driving ability was the primary factor in his decision and pointed to the team's year-on-year progress as proof that the approach works.

"I think that the track record of performance of Sahara Force India from when I bought the team speaks for itself. I'm very proud that amidst a lot of my sceptics and critics, when I set the road map going forward I think we've achieved everything we set, in fact we over-achieved. We have consistently punched above our weight; that is the mantra, the philosophy of this team.

"The fact that we have signed two of the most talented drivers in Formula One I think is a reflection of our own attitude. With Sergio wanting to prove what he really can do in a car - Nico is pretty much the same - and all of the engineers, designers and all of the folks at Force India feel literally the same way. We are hungry, we're out to prove a point."