Set among fields and new building developments on the outskirts of the heaving Indian metropolis of New Delhi, the manicured green lawns and imposing infrastructure of Buddh International Circuit is an imposing sight.
Since 2011, the $400-million, Hermann Tilke-designed Formula One track has been a symbol for India’s emergence as a world economy and a presence in international sport.
After scheduling difficulties forced organisers and F1 to call off the 2014 race, many are concerned Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix could be the last.
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, said if the race is to have any future in India, it must return strongly in 2015.
“It may not be easy to get the race back in India if we don’t find it on the calendar in 2015,” Chandhok said on Thursday. “But we are hoping that will not happen.”
India, with a population of 1.2 billion and a booming economy, is becoming an increasingly attractive market for F1, and the emergence of the Force India team in 2007 did much to fuel interest in the country. However, many complain interest in the Indian GP has waned since the first race in 2011 and question whether the original excitement can be reignited after a year off.
Bringing the race back is made more difficult by the backing, or lack thereof, the race attracts from the government and Indian corporations to ensure it stays on the F1 calendar.
“Today we have a private company backing the event but the government, which has various sports infrastructure, has done nothing for F1,” Chandhok said. “The fact is that 17 out of 19 F1 events are government-funded because they see value in spending money with local promoters.”
High taxes are levied on F1 in India including on the one-19th share of all revenue it gets for being one of 19 races on the tour.
An ongoing $4-million break in government entertainment tax is also set to be withdrawn this year. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and team owners have been uncomfortable with the extra costs associated with the race. “In the longer term, the corporate sector and the