Can F1 beat the odds and revive the Indian GP in the coming years?

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F1

The highest class of international racing, Formula 1 is exploring its ways to make a comeback in the Indian market. The Indian Grand Prix which ran between 2011 and 2013 at the Buddh International Circuit, was removed from the F1 race calendar, due to tax disputes with the government.

The Indian government imposed taxes on the event, leading to a series of logistical, financial, and bureaucratic challenges that resulted in the suspension of the Indian GP.

F1 return to India?

It’s been more than a decade since India saw this global racing event. However, recent reports suggest that Formula 1 and Formula One Management (FOM) are interested in returning to India shortly.

The FOM aims to increase the number of races on the Formula 1 calendar to generate profit in various regions around the world, including Miami, Las Vegas, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. India, with its status as the world’s fifth-largest economy and a population of over 1.43 billion people, presents an attractive opportunity for the FOM.

The successful debut of the Indian MotoGP GP at the Buddh circuit has also helped to reignite the interest in motorsport in the region.

Challenges lie ahead for RPPL

Despite these positive developments, there are still challenges that hinder the growth of motorsport in India. Racing Promotions Private Limited (RPPL) is working hard to revitalize the motorsport scene in the country, launching a series of Formula 4 and striving to establish a regional Formula championship.

However, RPPL has faced multiple obstacles on its journey. The first was the termination of Formula E in Hyderabad. RPPL launched the event with strong support from the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India. The prestigious event debuted in India last year and generated a whopping 84 million USD in revenue in the area.

Unfortunately, Formula E had to terminate its multi-year agreement with the city due to the failure of the newly elected Telangana Government to fulfill its Host City Agreement signed on October 30, 2023. This decision came just a few weeks before the race scheduled for February 10 and left a seven-week gap in the 2024 Formula E calendar.

RPPL faced another setback due to unforeseen Cyclone Michaung, which failed the plans of hosting a Formula 4-night race on a new 2.3-mile street circuit in the Island Grounds area of Chennai city. The event, originally planned for December 9-10, was postponed for a year after.

The Chennai street race was an agreement between RPPL, the Tamil Nadu Sports Development Authority, and the Greater Chennai Corporation. However, after the postponement, the Madras High Court decided on February 19 that RPPL must reimburse $5 million to the state government and pay an additional $3.6 million over the next two years to ensure that the race can still take place.

Challenges for FOM

The FOM also faces obstacles if it wants to solidify plans for an Indian Grand Prix. But, the FIA and FOM have been in constant disagreements recently, especially in the Andretti Formula Racing case. The 2024 Formula 1 calendar already has a record 24 races, with the current agreement limiting the calendar to a maximum of 25 races.

There is growing interest in races in Chicago, Turkey, and South Africa, and the addition of interest in India means that the FOM may need to expand the 25-race limit in the next agreement. This raises financial issues between the FOM and the FIA.

However, not everything going downhill regarding the possible F1 return to India. In January, reports stated that the Gujarat Sports Authority was exploring its own Formula 1 project swiftly developing GIFT City to determine if an event could be prepared in time for 2028. Only time will provide the answers to these imposing questions and hindrances.

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