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Sun 10 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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New boys lead the way

Our interview with Force India boss Vijay Mallya this month is proof that the impossible is possible. Two years ago, nobody in Formula One gave the Indian tycoon a glimmer of hope of succeeding in the sport.

Our interview with Force India boss Vijay Mallya this month is proof that the impossible is possible. Two years ago, nobody in Formula One gave the Indian tycoon a glimmer of hope of succeeding in the sport.

With the smallest budget and slowest car, few would even give him the time of day. Now, with an impressive season behind the team - though still the same budget - he has become one of the hottest shots on the grid. Never mind Brawn GP winning the championship, the real success story has been Force India, which managed an incredible second place finish last season in Belgium.

Mallya's way of doing business - which is generally to have as much fun as possible - has also made him a popular figure in the industry. And he has no plans to change his style.

The critics have been quick to write off F1, arguing that the limited budgets now mean  the fun has gone. With Sir Richard Branson having just entered the sport, again with a relatively small annual budget of $60m a year for his Virgin Racing team, the opposite is true. At long last, F1 has opened up to the small players. Next season promises to be the best ever.

Claire Ferris-Lay is the deputy editor of CEO Middle East.

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