India’s motor sports federation is optimistic the tax problems that have jeopardised the country’s Formula One race will be resolved and the home Grand Prix will be back in 2016.
Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told media on Wednesday that the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi will not be hosting a race next year after being dropped from the 2014 championship.
We have the recognition the drivers are no longer going to be considered as entertainers but as athletes.
Problems over taxation, with Formula One classified as entertainment rather than a sport in India, as well as the considerable bureaucracy governing the import of equipment have been seen as obstacles.
The Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) is waiting for a final clearance from the sports ministry for recognition as a national sports federation and hopes that will pave the way for the race’s return.
“It’s unfortunate but once the government gives the recognition I am very hopeful that Mr Ecclestone’s concerns will be satisfied,” Akbar Ebrahim, the chairman of racing at FMSCI, told media.
“The good thing is that the International Olympic Committee has recognised the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and made it a full member.
“We have the recognition the drivers are no longer going to be considered as entertainers but as athletes.”
Ebrahim was hopeful that the FMSCI would be recognised after the country’s general elections are over in May.
“The required paperwork that was asked for by the government of India has been already submitted a month back,” Ebrahim added.
“This recognition is not just for F1 but it is beneficial for the grass root level of Indian motorsports, too.”
Ecclestone said in November that a deal had been done for the Indian Grand Prix to return in 2015 and for six years beyond that if tax problems could be overcome.
Former Formula One driver Karun Chandhok rued India’s loss of a glamorous sporting event.
“I’m not surprised, unfortunately. The situation hasn’t changed from the government’s viewpoint,” Chandhok said.
“The teams and the drivers really enjoyed coming to India but the Indian government did not embrace Formula One or really understand its penetration and reach worldwide.”