The FIA has revealed that it has received 'positive reports on the ongoing situation in the preparation of the Indian Grand Prix' next month – but after allegedly being denied visas to enter the country for the 30 October race, Mercedes GP star Nico Rosberg and a number of Hispania Racing team members may be inclined to disagree.
F1's governing body has released a statement expressing that 'the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) received positive reports on the ongoing situation in the preparation of the Indian Grand Prix from the Indian representative of the WMSC and the F1 commercial rights-holder (Bernie Ecclestone)' – but following delays in the construction of the Buddh International Circuit, conflict with farmers and tax and customs disputes, there is now yet another hold-up threatening to disrupt the race's inaugural appearance on the sport's calendar.
Last week, the Indian government admitted that given the grand prix is organised by an external body, it does not consider it an 'event of national importance' – and the latest developments corroborate that stance. According to the Times of India
, Rosberg, 'half' of the HRT team, a number of FIA officials – including head of communications Matteo Bonciani – and some foreign journalists have all yet to be granted visas, with one hack describing the situation as 'unfortunate' given that the international media will be there to 'promote' the event.
A letter sent by the Indian ministry of home affairs (foreign division) affirms that 'Indian Missions abroad are authorised to issue conference visas to delegates on production of an invitation letter from the organisers', but that appears not to be taking place, and Bonciani has warned: “If the government takes three weeks to process a visa application, almost 90 per cent of F1 people – me included – won't attend the race.”
One dissenting voice over the tax and customs issue, however, has suggested that F1 teams should really not be surprised – or even in opposition to – the Indian government's desire to charge a levy.
“Some might have criticised the government but, truth be told, F1 is not a sport for the common man,” wrote a Times of India
scribe. “If the government wants to charge the teams for coming to India, they do have a point. Half the population of our country cannot even afford the cheapest tickets for the grand prix, [so] what is wrong if the government of India wants to collect tax from those involved in the expensive recreational activity that is F1?”