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MARCH 16, 2016

Troubled Mallya set to sit out Melbourne

Force India deputy Bob Fernley has hinted that team owner Vijay Mallya will likely skip this weekend's 2016 season opener in Melbourne.

The Indian media is searching furiously for the former billionaire's current whereabouts, after he left the country amid his legal troubles over the Kingfisher airlines debt.

Mallya has said through an official statement and his Twitter account that he is not an "absconder", and is believed to be staying at his palatial home in rural England.

His next move, however, has been anyone's guess.

Reuters reports that authorities have summoned Mallya, 60, to India for official questioning on Friday relating to loans that have not been repaid to 17 banks.

But also taking place on Friday is official practice for the season opening Australian grand prix in Melbourne.

Fernley, who handles the day-to-day running of Silverstone based Force India, indicated to the Daily Mail that Mallya will not be in Australia.

"It has always been Vijay's position that he will comply with the Indian legal process," he said.