The Indian Grand Prix could be dropped from the 2014 Formula 1 calendar, according to the sport’s commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone.
The event’s future has reportedly been under a cloud over apparent funding issues – furiously denied by event officials – but the latest comments case serious doubts over the event’s long term future at the Buddh International Circuit, which hosted its first Grand Prix in 2011.
Leading into last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix – which itself has had its contract extended until the end of 2021 – Ecclestone confirmed that next year’s calendar will be limited to 20 races.
But with Russia, New Jersey and Austria all slated as additions to the 2014 schedule, that leaves up to 22 venues vying for consideration on the calendar.
The future of the New Jersey event will be contingent on its funding status, while the Korean Grand Prix’s future is also looking decidedly wobbly. But now India has also entered the fray, although it would seem that funding is not the issue.
“Is India going to happen next year? Probably not,” Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
When pushed on the reasons for his opinion, the 82-year-old added: “[It’s] very political.”
Ecclestone’s comments would appear to hint that the red tape around the event – particularly the taxation that the government demands from the teams each year – would be the principal issue surrounding its future.
Added to the duty taxes teams have to pay – and then seek reimbursement for – to bring their equipment into and out of the country, there are a host of other bureaucratic challenges that the entire Formula 1 circus faces to go to the subcontinent every October, including expensive and lengthy visa applications.
It would appear that the teams have now had enough, and collectively demanded that unless the Indians start to streamline their procedures then they are simply not prepared to go racing there anymore.