Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there will be no Indian Grand Prix in 2014. However, he also said that he's in talks with Jaypee Group, the organisers of the Indian GP about an early 2015 race date.
Last week, Bernie Ecclestone said there was a possibility that there will be no Indian Grand Prix next year amid ''very political'' reasons. Today's statement confirms the absence.
"When we signed the five-year deal with Jaypee, we were keen on going to India in the first half and Jaypee wanted it to be in October. We gave in at that time, but now it looks we will have the race early 2015," Ecclestone told IANS.
There are two reasons for Indian GP being removed from next year's calendar. Firstly, the Indian government wants 1/19th share of revenue from all teams. In contrast, other countries, government asks for share of profits, which F1 teams don't make. So they don't end up paying any tax. Secondly, there might be 22 races in 2014 with Austria, Russia and New Jersey adding up to the current 19 race season. However, F1 teams and Ecclestone have made their mind that 20 races is the absolute limit.
Ecclestone further said that even if the race is retained for 2014 season, it will have to switch to an early March/April slot in 2015. This would mean that the organisers will have to host two Grand Prixs in 6 months. With one race costing $40 million for the organisers in terms of licensing fee, it will be a huge burden for Jaypee Group.
"It (hosting one race in October 2014 and another in early 2015) was too close. Therefore, after speaking to promoters, we think it is best not to have a race in 2014 and have one in 2015. We will have to club India with the four rounds in the Asia Pacific region." the 82 year old added.
95,000 people attended the inaugural Indian Grand Prix but that number fell to 65,000 in 2012. However, Bernie Ecclestone wasn't concerned about the falling numbers saying, "The second year is always difficult for the organisers. I hope bigger crowds turn up for the third edition".
When asked about a possible extension of current five year contract, Bernie said: "I really want it to continue, but it all depends on a lot of other factors. The sport is expanding its base every year."