Despite the non-committal answers provided by team principals when faced with a similar line of questioning during last Friday's FIA press conference, Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there may be no Indian Grand Prix in 2014.
With new races due to be added to next year's calendar, and concerns among teams and drivers that anything over 20 stops on the schedule will be too much, Ecclestone is faced with the prospect of culling existing events. Doubts already exist over the viability of the German and Korean rounds, while the nascent race in New Jersey continues under a question mark, but the Indians' insistence on claiming tax from the on-track performers at its marquee motorsport moment also brings within range of the axe.
Only last month, promoter Jaypee Sports International issued a statement lambasting 'totally baseless and malicious' speculation about the 2014 race, insisting that it had a valid contract to stage the grand prix until 2015, but Ecclestone acknowledges that the combination of red tape, local taxation rules and ongoing concerns over the event's financial viability leaves India on shaky ground.
"Is India going to happen next year? Probably not," he told Reuters
at the Hungarian Grand Prix. "It's very political."
This year's Indian Grand Prix will be the third in what was supposed to be an initial five-year spell on the F1 calendar, with the previous two races at the impressive Buddh International Circuit both having been claimed by Sebastian Vettel en route
to championship titles. In general, the drivers enjoy the venue amid the overall 'Indian experience', and the host country was seen as a potentially untapped source of sponsorship revenue, but that will not be enough to keep it on the schedule.
Team bosses met with Ecclestone during the early part of the recent Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, with Marussia's John Booth insisting that, as a private meeting, the details could not be divulged, leaving Mercedes' Toto Wolff to suggest that the future of the event was entirely in Ecclestone's hands.
“I think you know that the calendar is in the hands of the promoter and we have a great promoter, so wherever we need to go, we will go,” he concluded.