It’s official: there will be no Indian Grand Prix in 2014. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed the news overnight, following speculation he raised earlier this week that suggested the event would be absent from next year’s schedule. It is expected to return in 2015.
It had been suggested that the country’s complicated tax laws were a factor in the decision to drop the event, with the temporary suspension set to give the country’s officials enough time – and hopefully inspiration – to revisit their regulations.
Ever since the race in India joined the F1 roster in 2011, the teams have faxed expensive customs duties and corporations tax claims from the local government, a “political” factor that Ecclestone confirmed was partly behind the decision to drop the event next year.
Following Ecclestone’s announcement, the legislative red tape came under attack from Force India team principal Vijay Mallya – who is himself a sitting member of the national parliament – who has urged the country’s officials to revisit this approach and find a suitable compromise.
“There is a problem with India’s tax authorities, but India’s tax authorities tend to be a very difficult bunch,” he told ESPN.
“Their logic is that there are 19 races and one race is India, therefore 1/19th of all revenue generated in Formula 1 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 with them and say, ‘Listen, this is not the only country that’s hosting an F1 race. There are other countries that have been hosting F1 races for decades and they don’t make the same demands. So how can you?’”
The event’s return would be welcomed by drivers and fans, who enjoy the challenge and spectacle that its Grands Prix have offered do far at the purpose-built Buddh International Circuit, located on the outskirts of Delhi.
“It’s a fantastic track, the drivers love it, the teams love it,” Mallya added. “India is a country with huge potential. 1.3 billion people and 50 percent of them are youngsters. There can’t be a better environment for Formula 1’s future.”
Talks are now underway to return the race to the 2015 calendar, with the event to be moved from its traditional October date to an earlier calendar berth “with the four rounds in the Asia Pacific region”, Ecclestone confirmed to the IANS news agency.
“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,” he continued.
“We gave in at that time, but now it looks we will have the race early 2015.
“It was too close [to schedule a race in 2014 and one in early 2015]. Therefore, after speaking to promoters, we think it is best not to have a race in 2014 and have one in 2015.”
This year’s Indian Grand Prix takes place on the weekend of October 25-27.