It’s been more than 6 years since India last hosted an F1 race. Amid financial problems involving a tax dispute between the government and officials, the bigger question is about the return of F1 to India.
Fans of motorsport all over India are hoping for their beloved sport to return to the country. India hosted three Formula 1 races at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) from 2011 to 2013. BIC is a racing circuit situated in Greater Noida and was developed by Jaypee Sports Limited, an affiliate of Jaypee Group. It was also used for the recent X1 Racing. The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has reportedly locked the gates of the circuit. However, all hope is not lost. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, the YEIDA is considering an auction to recover the funds owed to them by Jaypee Group. This, expected, will make way for new ownership, sparking hopes of a revival of the Formula One scene in India.
Highlights! Has India already hosted its last F1 race?
- Buddh International Circuit (BIC) last hosted an F1 race in the year 2013.
- A financial dispute between Jaypee Sports Limited and YEIDA has been keeping F1 away from India.
- Formula One CEO, Chase Carey, believes India has the potential and is in their future plans.
Why did India fail to cling on to F1?
Amidst all the glory and hopes surrounding the growth of sports in India – Formula 1 somehow remains back-seated. Despite the huge number of fans in India, the return of the greatest motorsport competition seems slim after a fall down between Jaypee Sports Limited and the YEIDA.
The cancellation arose as a result of Jaypee Group’s non-payment of dues across multiple projects.
“A thousand-hectare land was allotted to Jaypee Sports Limited, an affiliate of Jaypee Group, in YEIDA’s special economic zone. Jaypee Sports Limited has been defaulting on payments to YEIDA and not completing projects promised to buyers.” – YEDIA on Jaypee Sports Limited’s inability to clear financial dues
Owing to the decision of YEIDA, many seem to believe that F1 will not return at the BIC.
Failure of a prospective F1 in 2017
However, 2017 brought a glimpse of hope that F1 could return to India. Liberty Media CEO, Chase Carey, mentioned India to be a part of their plans. Carey, who replaced Bernie Ecclestone as the CEO of the Formula One Group, had said that the Indian market held great importance and that F1 would return if everything had gone according to plan.
“India is a country that certainly has great potential and as we go forward, we will continue to study.” – Chase Carey on India’s F1 future
Future of F1 in India
Some past F1 racers have also had their say on this issue. While some demonstrated optimism, few others showed pessimism.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, who was a part of the recent X1 racing event held at the BIC lauded the interest of Indian fans in F1.
“India has a lot of interest in motorsport. People are passionate about speed and racing. That is why the Force India owners and other sponsors made F1 happen here.” – Vitantonio Liuzzi believes India has a great fan following in motorsport
After the reception X1 racing received, Liuzzi believes that it is only a matter of time before F1 returns to India.
On the other hand, Karun Chandok, former Indian F1 racer, believes that due to the lack of government backing, F1 is unlikely to return to India.
Chandok told Motor Sport podcast, “Unless the government has a change of heart and gets behind the sport, I don’t see it happening again.” He added, “India has, and had a huge F1 fanbase. When we went to race at places like Istanbul, I remember 2007 being on the grid, we looked at the grandstand and there were 11 people in. In contrast, the first Indian Grand Prix had 110,000.”
Many have given their views on this topic but the return of F1 to India still remains obscure. At the time of Carey’s statement, many F1 fans across India were excited and optimistic about F1’s return. However, with the increasing troubles of Jaypee Group, F1 has not made a return to the BIC since 2013. This despite having a contract of 2 more years with Formula 1. Hence, at the moment, it seems that the only hope of Formula 1 returning to India is in new ownership of the Buddh International Circuit.