The Indian Grand Prix will be excluded from next season’s Formula One calendar but will be reinstated in 2015 when it is likely to host a race in March,it was confirmed on Tuesday.
To honour the five-race commitment with the Indian Grand Prix organisers,the Formula One management has also agreed in principle to extend the contract by a year and conduct a race at the Buddh International Circuit in 2016 as well.
Sameer Gaur,the MD and CEO of Jaypee Sports International Ltd (JPSI),said in a statement that the “October-November period suits us better both weather-wise as well as it being a festive season but if Formula One Management wants us to hold our race in March,2015 we don’t have any problem with that.”
The Indian GP is being pulled out from the 2014 schedule as the Formula One management wanted JPSI to conduct the 2015 race in March. That would mean India would host two races in a span of five months,the first being the 2014 event in October. However,considering that the organisers have to pay close to Rs 240 crore as licensing fees for every race,it didn’t make financial sense.
Subsequently,the F1 management proposed the idea of excluding the Indian GP from the 2014 calendar and giving it an early slot for the 2015 season. JPSI seem to have reluctantly accepted the proposal. “It was difficult to host two races in such a short span so we thought if they want us to host a race early in the season,we are okay with it. However,it was agreed only after they assured that India will get a race in 2016 as well,” Aksari Zaidi,the JPSI spokesperson,said.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said the Indian GP will now have to be clubbed with the four rounds of Asia-Oceania races (Australia,Malaysia,Bahrain and China).
“When we signed the five-year deal with Jaypee,we were keen on going to India in the first half and Jaypee wanted it to be in October. We gave in at that time,but now it looks we will have the race early 2015. We will have to club India with the four rounds in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.
The Indian GP for this year is slotted for October 27. Ecclestone is spoilt for choices when finalising venues for the 2014 season,with Russia (Sochi) and USA (New Jersey) set to host their maiden races and Austria looking for a re-entry. While there are 22 possible venues for the next season,the teams have expressed strong preference to have only 20 races.
However,the future of the Indian Grand Prix remains uncertain unless the F1 management resolves the tax issues with the Indian government.
India’s strict tax regime has been a headache for F1 management since the debut race in 2011,with high customs duties and even corporation and personal tax being levelled on the teams and drivers on each visit.
“There are issues that need to be sorted out in your country. I hope the organisers are able to deal with it at the earliest,” Ecclestone said.
Several teams have complained over the high taxes levied by the Indian government,with Sauber’s Indian-origin team principal Monisha Kaltenborn saying last month is would be a shame if high taxes could result in premature death of Indian GP.
On Tuesday,Force India team principal Vijay Mallya trained guns on the Indian government,of which he is a Member of Parliament. Mallya said the country could not afford for its tax policy to get in the way of the GP. “India’s tax authorities tend to be a very difficult bunch,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN F1 website.
“Their logic is that there are 19 races and one race is India,therefore 1/19th of all revenue generated in Formula One is subject to Indian tax. From a narrow-minded,Indian tax man’s point of thinking maybe that is justifiable,but we need to sit down with them and engage. The Indian government on one side say they want India to be modern,vibrant country. But the irrational behaviour by the taxman doesn’t support such a mission. So it’s a question of sitting around the table and hammering it out with them.”