Thursday, August 22, 2013

Private organisers of the F1 Indian GP hope for government support

Many Indian Formula 1 fans were disappointed when it became apparent that the Indian Grand Prix would be dropped from the 2014 F1 calendar but the promoters, Jaypee Group, are certain that 2015 will see a return of the holy grail of motorsport.

In an interview yesterday to NDTV, CEO and MD of Jaypee Sports International, Sameer Gaur said that he was sure that the race would be back on the calendar in 2015. " We have a very sound contract with the F1 management. Bernie Ecclestone is a wise man and he believes in India as a destination. 2014 Indian Grand Prix is not happening because of logistical problems but those problems will be sorted out and in 2015, bang on, we will be on target."

He however cautioned that it would be tough to keep the Grand Prix going beyond the 5 year contract he has with Bernie, unless unless the government or at least one of our many gods intervene. "We will continue to have the Grand Prix till our 5-year contract runs. But after 5 years, let us see how the situation is. We don't want to disappoint the F1 enthusiasts in India, the ones who have gotten used to watching the Grand Prix here. We have that in mind and god willing we will find a way out"

"If F1 has to be in India on a long-term basis, the Government of India should own the event like it is their own event, not only look at it as a Jaypee event. Yes, Jaypee has made the circuit. Yes Jaypee has paid the license fee but the government can share the licence fee. There are many governments around the world that share the F1 license fee" ,he added.

The 42 year old industrialist went on to tell NDTV, "We should see the model of Singapore and Abu Dhabi. When you go to these countries, it looks like a festival in those time. Their governments popularise F1 in every step. Whether it is their buses, their metros, their restaurants. Jaypee as a private entity can only do that much to create the buzz, we have our limits. But large levels of interests can only be created by the government"

The levels of red-tapism faced by the teams visiting India make it very difficult for them to want to come back here. Ridiculously high customs duties, never-ending paperwork  and long waits for custom clearances of cars and parts don't exactly represent a nation wanting to host an international event of this scale with so much visibility. 

In the current calendar, 16 out of the 19 races are at least partly if not wholly government sponsored events. The British, Japanese and Indian Grand Prix are the only events run by private organisers.

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