TJ13 ran a poll last autumn asking our readers their thoughts on a possible return of the Indian GP. The results were:
42% It would be a shame if F1 didn’t return to India
30% Indifferent whether it stays or goes from the F1 calendar
28% F1 shouldn’t return to India as there are better places to go
The Indian GP fell from the Formula One calendar amid farce and financial collapse. The TJ13 article, “India and F1: A love hate relationship” in the Daily News and Comment (24/10/13), examined the details. This included a hearing before the Indian Supreme court just days before the race weekend. The petitioners were seeking to have the event cancelled.
Following the poor attendance at the second year of F1 racing at the Buddh International Circuit, Narain Karthikeyan commented to the Times of India, “Delhiites are brand-conscious people. So in the inaugural season lots of people attended because that was the ‘in-thing’”.
The Indian’s did lose interest in Formula One – and they lost it fast. The first race on the Buddh International Circuit in 2011 saw 95.000 tickets sold. In2012, that figure fell to 65.000 and in the final year of the Indian GP, less than 30,000 were reported to have attended the event.
The promoters of the Indian GP were contracted for a Formula One weekend, both in 2014 and 2015, but was ‘released’ from their obligations.
However, the maker of magic, Bernie Ecclestone is now implying there is a return to the F1 calendar on the cards for the beleaguered event which takes place an hour from New Dehli.
“I hope we have a race in India next year,” the Press Trust of India report Ecclestone stating. “I am waiting for the promoters to come back to me. We will do whatever is needed to make sure India is back. There are no added challenges to the event. We just need the Jaypee Group to say that ‘we are happy to carry on’ and we can revive the existing contract.”
2016 should see the return of the German GP in Hockenheim plus the addition of the European GP hosted by Baku, Azerbaijan. This means for the first time there will be more than 20 F1 Championship races in a year.
With the calendar condensed for 2016 and the Australian GP kicking off the season two weeks later than its usual slot, there is some scepticism whether a 22nd race in India is really likely.
Given previous form, this could all be part of the Ecclestone horse trading currently going on behind the scenes with the promoters of the Italian GP in Monza, whose contract to host an F1 event runs out this year.
The Italian GP is believed to have been charged the smallest fee of all the F1 circuits, around 7 million Euros. Ecclestone reportedly wants them to pay the going rate for a European F1 race, between 15 and 20 million euros.
The Italian government has made matters worse, by killing off a 20 million euro tax rebate that Monza used to receive.
TJ13 readers considering going to a GP this year, should go to Monza, because it could seriously be the last time we see F1 cars there for the foreseeable future – if not ever again.
Should the Cathedral of Speed be lost from the F1 calendar, there will be a hole in the soul of Formula One.