Flamboyant Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya was pipped to the post by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu in the race for acquiring the Honda Formula One team, according to media reports.
Italian newspaper La Stampa said Slim, the world’s second richest man, would plough his cash into the ailing outfit, which would be back on the grid in 2009.
“The saviour has arrived: Carlos Slim, 67 years old, the second richest man in the world,” the newspaper said. “The news is not official as all the details are yet to be formalised. But two things are certain — the team has been saved and the drivers will be Jenson Button and rookie Bruno Senna in place of Rubens Barrichello,” it added.
Mallya, who owns the Force India formula one team, was interested in stepping but the move was seen through a prism of suspicion as his effort to access Honda's technical know-how.
Slim also edged out Prodrive’s David Richards to emerge as the saviour of the outfit, which had earlier announced its decision to pull out of Formula One following the global financial meltdown.
Slim is a Mexican billionaire who largely focuses on the telecom industry with a net worth of $60 billion and the Forbes magazine rated him as the second richest person on earth.