Red Mist: What happens when they clip the boss?

Tell me something. What happens when a family loses its leader?

Let me tell you. It’s a total casino. The soldiers want to be the bagmen, the goombah eyes the wiseguy; people get pinched, others eat alone, the zips circle and the underbosses and consigliere have their hands full. Every man and his dog is out to make the bones.

To be plain, there’s blood on the street — all hell breaks loose when the person who held it all together, becomes dearly departed.

It’s the same in any family — when a patriarch passes, everything every member holds dear, the pecking order and how it all works, ends up in the air. It all changes forever. In business too — a strong leader suddenly removed from power can very well see the forsaken company shutting down through the ensuing mayhem.

So consider that as I take you back to late last July. You may remember that Ferrari was on a charge — Sebastian Vettel had won his brilliant fourth race of the season at Silverstone and it really and truly seemed that the Scuderia finally had dominant Mercedes-Benz covered. All the work done to turn parent company Fiat, and then Ferrari around, was finally working — the boss’ passionate leadership was paying off.

Then Sergio Marchionne was not well. Next thing he was gone.

My first thought was, ’shit, now what?’ Ferrari found itself rudderless in the torrent and as it happens when a Capo is clipped, your boss or your father dies, all hell broke loose. The timing could not have been worse — I was convinced that Marchionne’s huge loss was about to rock the team he had made his own. Damn, it did so too.

The rot set in on track — Seb went off all on his own at Hockenheim and while he bounced back with a second in Hungary and a win at Spa, it properly fell apart after that. Hamilton out-fumbled him at Monza and except for Kimi’s one-off at Austin, it was all Mercedes.

Back at Maranello, the mattresses were out and it was every soldier for himself — the underbosses had it through the eye and the consiglieri were dodging a one-way ride as chaos ruled the Ferrari Family. Gradually, however, the administration began to rebuild — the Old Cigarette Seller and his lieutenants were snuffed out and the Tall Captain and his gumbahs put in place, while the Casa got new Capi as a fresh Marlboro Man took the previous Don’s Grandson by the hand.

Slowly, slowly, Ferrari started to catch that monkey again, but it was never going to be a quick fix; the chasm left by Marchionne’s passing has proven a tough nut to crack.

Into that untested and shaky environment, the new soldier found a lardy, lazy goombah — Leclerc soon got into Vettel’s head and if that was not bad enough, the Scuderia’s luck could not have been worse. The Canada catastrophe, then Austria and more too as Ferrari appeared to do its utmost to shoot itself in both feet.

Trouble is, it was not doing that, all the team was trying to get right, was find back its feet. That took time. The cracks grew —  Charl got even better of dizzy Seb and a year on from his 2018 fiasco, Vettel suffered another Italian nightmare, while his kid teammate trotted to off his second win on the run at Monza.

Critically, however, Ferrari was winning again and for the past six races, it has yet again proven itself a formidable Formula 1 force. Never mind, the real Sebastian Vettel has stood up since Singapore and he’s been sharp ever since. There’s nothing like a couple of thousand laps in a kart to blow those cobwebs away. Now with that win and a couple of seconds from the past four races, it is he who now has the lad on the back foot.

That’s a good thing — what’s better than two bitter Ferrari teammates fighting it out upfront? Haven’t seen that for a while.

Back to Mexico, perhaps there were issues around Charles’ pitstop, but a bunch of other teams had the same. And Seb drove another solid race, even if Lewis beat him fair and square. Being suckered into believing that Hamilton would stop again and losing track position on another stupid F1 circuit, must be addressed. F1 rules that prevent real racing, rather than promoting it, also needs attention.

Let’s hope that new 2021 F1 rules package changes all that but for now, Ferrari news seems strong again. From what I can see, the mattresses are packed away, the outfit has sorted its issues and the crew has opened those books again. Bring it on — Forza Ferrari!

Glossary of Lingo

  • Administration: top management
  • Bagman: collects/cleans/distributes money.
  • Books Open: possibility of promotion
  • Books Closed: no possibility of promotion
  • Boss; Don: head of the family
  • Button: hit man
  • Capo: crew chief
  • Capo dei Capi: boss of all bosses
  • Casa: house
  • Casino: commotion
  • Clip: murder (also whack/hit/pop/burn/ice/contract out)
  • Consigliere: adviser consulted before making decisions.
  • Crew, Soldier: troops
  • Eat Alone: be greedy.
  • Family: organised clan.
  • Goombah: senior associate
  • Made Man: inducted member of the family.
  • Make Bones: gain credibility by killing someone.
  • Mattresses: going to war
  • Outfit: a clan, or family within the Mafia.
  • Through the eye: the mob is watching you
  • Underboss: second in command
  • Wiseguy: made man
  • Zips: newer immigrant Italian mafiosi.


Montoya: Vettel’s problem is not mental it’s technical

Juan Pablo Montoya believes Sebastian Vette’s problems are not head-related and suggests that the error-prone Ferrari driver is struggling to come to terms with the SF90 while his shooting star teammate Charles Leclerc appears to have adapted his style to the potent but finicky package.

Montoya told Motorsport Network, “I think he doesn’t like something in the car or this year’s tyres and Leclerc is able to better adapt. Vettel has to suffer to go as quick as the other guy. Because he has to suffer and he is not comfortable, he makes mistakes. When you’re not happy with the car and you push, mistakes happen.”

At 31 Vettel is a wily campaigner with four F1 world titles under his belt as well as 52 wins in 234 Grand Prix starts but is now on a winless streak lasting over a year.

At Monza last Sunday, he messed up in front of the tifosi with a blatant error while his teammate powered to a famous victory, the 21-year-old’s second in a week in which he comprehensively outshone his illustrious teammate.

Montoya said of Vettel’s freefall, “I don’t think it’s a mental thing. It is more a technical one. It’s about understanding, having someone on your side who’s able to find what’s going on.”

The popular Columbian driver revealed how he had to alter his driving style to suit the McLaren’s of 2005 and 2006,  “I had to change the way I braked the car and it started doing very different things to what I was used to.

“Changing they way you drive is very complicated. If you change the way you drive the car you can still be quick, but probably not as quick as you used to be.”

“He will have to adapt to a certain extent, but learning to be quick in a different way is very difficult. It’s better to adapt the car to your driving than your style to someone else’s.”

Vettel has never been fully comfortable with the hybrid turbo era as he was with the V8s. Daniel Ricciardo outdrove him in 2014, and at Ferrari the German was hardly tested by Kimi Raikkonen in the last stages of his journey in Red.

Young gun Leclerc has by intent or not been extremely smart in how he has slowly shifted the power from the submissive young gun to the team’s top gun by simply delivering a blistering pace, setting the marker in race-mode and almost taunting Vettel with his ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ approach.

As the seven-time Grand Prix winner and Indycar Champion pointed out, this has the #5 car chasing too often, the driver trying too hard and triggering mistakes.

Perhaps it would be wise for him to take a page out of the Prost-Senna battle archives to figure out what The Professor did to contain and beat a teammate who was faster and younger than him. Tortoise and hare spring to mind.

Montoya, who is back in the F1 paddock coaching Lance Stroll, closed with advice for Vettel, “The only way is working harder, doing something different to what he’s doing now. He must be used to working in a certain way, but right now it’s not working out for him.”

Big Question: What’s bugging Seb?


German Grand Prix Technical Preview

The German Grand Prix returns as Round 10 of the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship, after a one-year absence, in what is likely to be its final appearance on the calendar for the foreseeable future.

The Hockenheimring, not nearly as challenging as the old route through the forest, features a mix of cornering speeds, albeit slightly biased to the lower – medium end of the spectrum, together with multiple full throttle sections.

Downforce vs Drag

The part of the lap to Turn 8 favours a medium or even low downforce set-up, with Turns 3, 4, 5 and 7 all being flat-out. However, the remainder of the lap features very little in the way of straights, with a series of corners challenging the drivers, including the Stadium section. It is likely that Red Bull will aim to run lower downforce rear wings than both Mercedes and Ferrari in order to overcome its straightline speed deficit and improve its competitiveness in the first part of the lap.

Car Strengths Needed

A car with good traction and Aerodynamic efficiency will perform well here, as the majority of the lap is made up of low speed corners and straights. Those teams with a Mercedes or Ferrari power unit will benefit on the long flat-out run up to Turn 6.

Key Corners

Turn 2 is critical in setting up an opportunity to overtake heading down towards the Turn 6 hairpin. In addition, Turns 1 and 12, being the only high-speed corners on the track, will test the grid’s Aerodynamic downforce.

Tyres and Strategy

Given the absence of data from the current generation of cars and tyres at the Hockenheimring, an assessment of potential strategy options is difficult. Back in 2016, when Pirelli’s tyres were still fragile and subject to overheating, the race required a three-stop strategy to be competitive, using the SuperSoft and Soft compounds. The current tyres are more durable than in that period, with this year’s tyres a little softer than the equivalent 2017 tyres.

Given that the 2016 SuperSoft was capable of stints of up to 20 laps in the 2016 race, the UltraSoft should be able to run a similar distance, at least over the weekend, when temperatures are forecast to be lower than on Friday. The question then centres around which tyre can result in a one-stop strategy, the Soft or the Medium?

Both tyres have shown consistent performance through the year, and the selection of two or more sets of the Medium for at least one driver in every team suggests that the answer is not clear as yet. Of course, the front runners may choose to avoid the UltraSoft in the race completely, using the Soft to set their fastest time in Q2 and begin the race, before switching to the Medium.

Renault’s selection of ten sets of the UltraSoft tyre stands out as particularly aggressive, while its Soft/Medium combination guarantees that one driver will not run the preferred race tyre during practice.


The mix of slow corners and reasonable number of straights usually makes for good racing in Germany. For 2018, this will be assisted by the introduction of a third DRS zone along the pit straight which, like the additional zone in Silverstone, will be designed to move cars closer together in a bid to overtake into Turns 2 or 6, rather than providing a passing opportunity into Turn 1 itself.


Friday is expected to be extremely hot, but dry, with temperatures over thirty degrees Celsius, before cooler conditions set in for the weekend. This will make judging the long run data from FP2 particularly tricky for the teams, while the preparation for a flying lap may well need to be altered due to the temperature drop. Note that on Saturday particularly, but also on Sunday, there is the possibility of some rain showers.

Form Guide

In France and Austria certainly, and arguably in Silverstone as well, Mercedes had the outright fastest car over the weekend. However, all three of these circuits featured multiple medium-high-speed corners, and long-radius turns in the case of the first two, which seemed to suit the W09 better than the Ferrari SF71H.

Hockenheim has a very different circuit layout that could play more to the strengths of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars. In the midfield, Force India and Renault should perform more strongly than in recent races, thanks to the greater bias towards low-speed corners, while Haas should become relatively less competitive, with the VF-18’s high-speed corner performance hidden on this circuit.


Lowe: Williams recovery my greatest challenge

Williams technical director Paddy Lowe was expected to take Williams to the next level, but the first effort at putting out a decent car under his watch has proved to be a disaster for the once mighty team, sinking them to their lowest level in memory.

Lowe arrived with pedigree, having started with Williams in 1987 before he joined McLaren in 1993 where he rose through the ranks to become technical director at Woking before he departed to join Mercedes in 2013.

Replacing Ross Brawn, he was part of the leadership that created the mega-team that the Silver Arrows has become.

His move to Williams early last year was expected to herald a new era of technical excellence at Grove, with highly rated Dirk de Beer joining the team from Ferrari. But instead of progress the team has been in sharp decline with very little light at the end of a long tunnel.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the FW41 lemon they produced, the fall-guys have fallen and now Lowe remains standing with nowhere to hide.

When asked if he was amid the toughest challenge of his impressive career, he replied, “In many aspects, yes.”

“There have been some other challenges I faced on different occasions, but this is a new challenge for me anyway. Through the years I’ve been fortunate in my career not to work in a team that wasn’t part or within reach of the front, performance wise,” the 56-year-old told Motorsport Network.

“That is where we were always playing, in the top ten and towards the front of top 10 or at the very front end. It is a new experience for me to work in a team, which has a lot of work to do to get back to where we want to be.”

“So that creates some new challenges for me personally, and I am learning all the time. Some things you get right, some things, if I had my last year again, I would do differently. But I think that is the nature of life.”

“You face challenges and you learn from them and hope that that builds your experience to do a better job next time.”

Williams have huge pedigree in Formula 1 with 114 grand prix victories since their debut in the top flight back in 1975, their collection of nine Formula 1 constructors’ titles is only bettered by Ferrari.

Lowe cites this and winning potential of the team as his source of inspiration, “I think the more we get into understanding where we are, and why, and what is not working, I think the more positive that makes me feel about the progress that we can make.”

“We’ve got a great team, you know. There are some great creative people back at Grove. And I think if we can work in the right direction, which we are now turning round to do, I think we can make some really good progress.”

“I think as we get to this point of the year, which is common with all the teams, the focus goes very much more on the current car towards pieces and developments which are also relevant into next year,” said Lowe about his team’s mindset on this front.

“I think we are definitely moving into that mode now with this car, which should be common with the other teams I would expect.

“Because although the rules are changing for next year quite significantly, there are still many aspects of the car for which the development and the learning on this car will still carry across.

“So, for instance, we probably won’t do a lot of work on front wing endplates for the rest of this year, but that’s because it’s a big change for next year,” concluded Lowe.

Big Question: Is Paddy Lowe the man to revive Williams to become title contenders and race winners again?


Epstein: The bigger the success Miami is the better for F1

Circuit of the Americas (COTA) chairman Bobby Epstein believes says the prospect of the Miami Grand Prix is good for the sport as his organisation bide their time ahead of negotiating a new Formula 1 contract for the United States Grand Prix in Austin.

The Texas track’s existing deal agreed with Formula 1’s former supremo Bernie Ecclestone runs to 2021 with an annual escalator clause.

COTA chairman Epstein would like to secure better terms from the sport’s new U.S.-based owners Liberty Media, as do other promoters in the global series who have long complained that high hosting fees make it hard to turn a profit.

Liberty’s eagerness to add a race in Miami, possibly as soon as next year, could see a change to the old business model with media reports suggesting that deal will have shared risk and revenues.

“I think there are nine or 10 circuits that have to renew their deals before we do,” Epstein told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“So I am sure by the time ours comes up, there’ll be a lot more precedents set. And you know, hopefully the sport will have taken off in the U.S. (by then) and the reliance on the promoter income might not have to be as heavy.”

Hockenheim, which hosts this weekend’s German Grand Prix and is in the last year of its contract, has already said it cannot continue unless any new deal is risk-free.

Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, has a year remaining on its contract having exercised a break clause, while even countries like Azerbaijan that pay more than most are seeking revised terms.

Liberty see the United States as a key market for the sport’s growth and are keen to add at least a second race.

COTA is the country’s only purpose-built Formula One facility.

Epstein, who said he was not planning on starting conversations about a new F1 deal until much closer to the 2020 race, also has a MotoGP contract to renew but he was not worried about that, “MotoGP is a great event for us and we’re not going to lose it.”

COTA has drawn big crowds to the F1 race by putting on big-name concerts on the Saturday and Sunday to drive sales of family tickets.

Epstein said this year’s headliners Bruno Mars and Britney Spears meant sales were “on top of where they were last year” when Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder topped the bill.

He added, however, that the circuit was almost ‘maxed out’ as far as the concert crowd and future growth would have to come from increasing the sport’s popularity.

Miami, he said, might siphon off some fans but would be good in the long run, “I certainly think there’s a core group of the curious fans, just as we saw the first year of our event, who want to go experience the new.”

“And they will go to Miami and I hope Miami will be a great success because the bigger the success Miami is, the better it is for the sport. So that will lift all of us. At least that’s the hope.”

The Miami Grand Prix is by no means a certainty, but Epstein felt something would be sorted for 2020 if not next year.

The uncertainty has meant a 2019 draft Formula 1 calendar has yet to be published, with Liberty waiting on the Florida city before confirming any dates.

If Miami happens then it would be scheduled with Austin, Mexico and Brazil in a sequence for the later part of the season, with Canada retaining a June slot.

“I’ve a feeling they’ve got their schedule and calendar fairly well pencilled in,” said Epstein, who added that the date of the Austin race — on 21 Oct0ber — could change from next season.

“They’ve mentioned the possibility of a (date) change to us. Within three weeks either way of our existing date. It might be early November,” added Epstein.

Big Question: How important is the Miami Grand Prix for Formula 1?


Giovinazzi set for Sauber duty in Hockenheim FP1

Ferrari reserve Antonio Giovinazzi will be back in a Formula 1 cockpit when he does duty for Sauber during the first free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend on Friday.

The Italian driver, who made his Formula 1 race debut at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, in place of injured Pascal Wehrlein, will do the FP1 session in place of Marcus Ericsson, with Charles Leclerc in the sister car meaning that both Ferrari proteges will be in action during the 90-minutes morning session at Hockenheim.

Giovinazzi drove during Barcelona F1 testing, after the Spanish Grand Prix in May, for Sauber on day one of the in-season testing and then for Ferrari a day later.

Last year the 24-year-old Italian did seven FP1 sessions with Haas and has recently been linked to a return to the American team as a possible replacement for wayward Romain Grosjean, if not this season then as a contender to do so next year.

Ferrari ran out of seats this season for their drivers as the Maranello bosses were keen to place both Giovinazzi and Leclerc on the grid. They opted for the latter with Sauber who has done a stellar job, setting himself up as the first Ferrari Drivers Academy (FDA) graduate to step up to the Scuderia.

At the time Haas were committed to both their current drivers, however, However Guenther Steiner and Gene Haas may well think twice when considering their line-up for next season because Giovinazzi would come with a substantial discount on their Ferrari engine deal.


Hulkenberg: I’m German, I’m a machine, I just do my job!

Nico Hulkenberg’s career to date has been something of an enigma, highly rated and respected among his peers yet he has never stood on a Formula 1 podium thus far in his career but that could change soon as he sees Renault as a force for the future.

In an interview ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend, Hulkenberg was realistic when summing up where he and Renault are in the pecking order this season, “At the moment we’re still quite far away.”

“In Canada we were lapped by the top six guys, which is obviously a lot, a big gap. But you need to see the progression since Renault came back. From last year to this, we’ve made really good improvements.”

“The big teams are doing a very good job and they have huge budgets, huge resources, so it’s hard… it’s also naïve to think that you can just catch them up like that over one or two years.’

“It takes time, because it’s in every detail. We’ve made good progress and we’re not lifting off the throttle, we will keep on pushing.”

Hulkenberg has normally had the better of his teammates, but Carlos Sainz’s arrival in the team was a wake-up call for the German who had to raise his game relative to the pressure he was getting when Jolyon Palmer was his teammate.

But The Hulk has his own opinion, “I don’t really agree with that. I think last year, yes, I was more comfortable, let’s say I was always clear. But I don’t feel that having a team-mate closer to you makes you find extra stuff.”

Looking back at last year, I’m pretty confident that there was not one instance in qualifying or the race where I underperformed because of that.”

“I don’t see it because of my own ambition, my own challenge is to always get the best out of me and my car. I don’t need someone to push me to do that. I’m German, I’m a machine, I just do my job!”

Renault have lagged behind Mercedes and Ferrari in the power unit stakes, but the goal is to slug it out for victories and titles in the future, how far ahead that is only time will tell.

Hulkenberg might have been an option for Mercedes and Ferrari at some point, there was talk at some point of a deal to drive for Maranello but nothing ever materialised. However, Renault came calling and the rest is history.

“I’m very happy here,” admitted the 30 -year-old, “I can see that they want what I want, and that everybody is pushing in the same direction and that, for me, is important. To be able to see and feel the progress.”

“It takes that kind of time, the same for Ferrari years and years ago, for Red Bull and for Mercedes. When they came back in 2010, Mercedes started to dominate only when we changed to the new regulation cars, but before that there was a four-year time period leading up to being the best in the game.”

“You need to be in the right car to be winning and win races and to go for the championship. Of course, I feel I have what it takes, and I am confident I can deliver if I have the right car one day. So far, I haven’t, and that’s why I haven’t even been on the podium. Those are the facts. That’s the nature of this sport.”

Formula 1 has been dominated by Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull for the past half dozen years, with no other team coming close to victory.

Knowing this, he rationalised, “What are the alternatives? If you don’t like it you can walk away, but this is Formula 1, the best there is in the world. This is the best of racing, the best drivers are here, the best engineers.”

“This is where I want to compete and challenge other people and challenge myself. Even if I’m upset or not happy that I don’t have the winning car, the alternative is to leave – and I don’t want to do that. I love what I do and I’m good at it; I’m still chasing that dream, wanting to win races.”

“Right now, I have an excellent opportunity with Renault to work our way up there over the next few years and that’s very exciting for me and gives me a lot of motivation.”

Asked during the interview if this was the most enjoyable period in his career, Hulkenberg replied, “I think so, yeah. I feel good, I feel confident, and I’m probably doing the best driving of my whole career.”

The Hulk has made 145 grand prix starts since his debut at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix and scored 447 points. He won the Le Mans 24-Hours on his first attemptin 2015 with Porsche.


There was a school of thought that said when Carlos [Sainz] came into the team, it would be good for you because he would be the best team-mate you’ve had to date and that it would push you to another level. Have you felt that?

Going back to the performance gap between the top teams and those in the midfield, that’s something that’s existed for quite a bit of your career…
Yes, always.

Do you feel that a lot of you have missed out on big achievements because of that performance gap? If there had been a cost cap in place then it would have shrunk that gap.



Formula 1 still mourning Jules Bianchi three years on

Leclerc, Bianchi

Three years since Jules Bianchi succumbed to injuries he sustained during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the world of Formula 1 has not forgotten and indeed never will as the sport lost one of it’s brightest lights who had been destined for big things.

Twitter’s #ForeverJules was buzzing with good-will messages on the anniversary of a very sad day for sport:

Remembering our friend Jules today 🙏 #JB17

A post shared by Stoffel Vandoorne (@svandoorne) on Jul 17, 2018 at 4:00am PDT


Hamilton: Kimi said sorry, I accept it and we move on

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has accepted an apology from Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen and recognised that their first lap collision in Sunday’s British Grand Prix was a racing incident and not deliberate.

The Mercedes driver, who fought back from last to second after being sent spinning at the third corner by the veteran Finn, had spoken immediately after the race of the Italian team’s ‘interesting tactics’.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had suggested two collisions between Ferraris and his cars in three races were either deliberate or incompetent.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel also collided with Mercedes Valtteri Bottas in France last month.

“Kimi said sorry and I accept it and we move on. It was a racing incident and nothing more,” Hamilton posted on Instagram. “Sometimes we say dumb shit and we learn from it.”

Wolff’s comments had angered Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene, particularly as he had referenced former Ferrari technical director James Allison, who is now working for Mercedes. “In James Allison’s words, ‘do you think it is deliberate or incompetence?’. So this leaves us with a judgement,” the Austrian had said.

Arrivabene told Sky Italia after the race that Allison should be ashamed if he had said that, “We’re here in England, sometimes they want to teach us how to be gentlemen, and he should start first. Really, this annoyed me so much.”

“It’s been a beautiful battle, a battle that I think the audience appreciated, there will be other battles where most likely Mercedes will win and this is a lesson for us to stay classy, a thing that they haven’t done today.”

Mercedes defended Allison on Twitter, emphasising he had not spoken to media and there had merely been a ‘jokey conversation’ during the race that Wolff repeated and that had been misinterpreted.

“We know it was just a stupid mistake on Kimi’s part. Like Seb in France. It’s the race but it’s still annoying twice on three GPs,” the team said.

Vettel now leads the championship standings by eight points and Ferrari top the constructors’ table by 20, leads that increased at Silverstone, the tenth round of the championship.


Mallya: They want to hang me on the holy cross

Embattled Indian tycoon and Force India owner Vijay Mallya said on Sunday he will comply fully with court enforcement officers seeking to seize his British assets, but there was not much for them to take as his family’s lavish residences were not in his name.

India wants to extradite the 62-year-old former liquor baron from Britain to face charges of fraud as a group of Indian banks seek to recover more than $1 billion (752.45 million pounds) of loans granted to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

A verdict is expected by early September, with July 31 the final date for closing oral submissions and appeals likely whatever the outcome.

Speaking to Reuters at the British Grand Prix, where he is principal and co-owner of the Force India team, Mallya said he would hand over British assets held in his name. But a luxury country residence belonged to his children and a house in London belonged to his mother, making them untouchable.

“I have given the UK court on affidavit a statement of my UK assets. Which, pursuant to the freezing order, they are entitled to take and hand over to the banks,” he said. “There’s a few cars, a few items of jewellery and I said ‘OK, fine. You don’t have to bother to come to my house to seize them. I’ll physically hand them over. Tell me the time, date and place.’”

“There’s no question of being homeless because at the end of the day, they are entitled to take my assets in my name declared on oath to the court. They can’t go one step beyond,” added the man branded a ‘fugitive’ by his country.

Mallya said a super-yacht he used for entertaining at races in Monaco and Abu Dhabi, which was recently sold at auction in Malta after a dispute over unpaid crew wages, was not his problem either.

“I have not owned the Indian Empress boat for more than seven years now,” he said. It had belonged to “a Middle Eastern gentleman”, whose name he would not disclose, in a deal that gave Mallya use of it for one month a year, he said.

Mallya has been in Britain since he left India in March 2016, unable to travel after his passport was revoked, so the annual British Grand Prix is the only race he has been able to attend since then.

The Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, is seeking to declare him a “fugitive economic offender” and to confiscate 125 billion rupees worth of his assets.

Mallya has denied the charges, decried a “political witchhunt” and has said he is seeking to sell assets worth about 139 billion rupees ($2.04 billion) to repay creditors.

“I think the overriding consideration that everybody seems to be missing is that I have put $2 billion worth of assets in front of the Karnataka high court which is more than sufficient to repay the banks and indeed everybody else. So the question of attaching assets either in the UK or whatever should not arise.”

Mallya repeated recent complaints on Twitter that Indian criminal enforcement agencies had frozen assets in India so he could not sell them, while banks continued to tot up interest.

He said the enforcement directorate had also attached assets inherited from his father, including properties acquired in the 1920s, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, “How can those be proceeds of crime? This is the injustice that is happening.”

The former billionaire, at one time dubbed the ‘King of Good Times’ and a former member of the upper house of the Indian parliament.

“I was always a resident of England and a non-resident of India. So where else do I come back to? So where’s the running away concept? It’s just become too political.”

“And now in an (Indian) election year, I guess what they want to do is bring me back and hang me on the holy cross and hope to get more votes,” lamented the tycoon.