Getting Formula 1 back to the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) is not on the priority list for the debt-ridden Jaypee Group but at the same time, it has no plans to sell the USD 400 million facility that put India on the world motorsport map, said track chief Sameer Gaur.
“Yes, we are not thinking of hosting any big race including F1 in the near future because of reasons well known but it doesn’t mean we are open to selling the circuit. The thought has not even crossed our mind,” Gaur, who is Jaypee Sports International MD and CEO, told PTI.
The BIC has been away from the limelight ever since the race was dropped from the F1 calendar following three editions from 2011 to 2013. The maintenance cost of the circuit remains high and with no major international race being organised, a handful of domestic events besides vehicle testing days contribute to its running cost.
“Maintaining a big facility like BIC is surely tough but we have been able to do that well despite the constraints,” he said.
The Jaypee Group overall is undergoing tough times. The total debt of the conglomerate is estimated to be around Rs 75,000 crores as on March 31, 2015, according to foreign brokerage firm Credit Suisse.
It was not a surprise that it chose to sell some of its cement and hydro-power plants to reduce the debt burden. Even in the existing scenario, Gaur remains an optimist and promised that F1 will return to BIC at some point, though not in the near future.
“We built such a huge circuit to host big events like F1. Yes, under the circumstances, it is not at all our focus but when the situation improves, we will surely think about making better use of the track,” added Gaur.
In a recent chat with PTI, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had expressed a strong desire to have India back on the calendar despite the challenges that come with the hosting of the high-profile race.
It is quite clear that for the race to return, the tax and bureaucratic hurdles that were created during the three active years will have to be cleared besides significant improvement in the financial health of the Jaypee Group.