On the eve of this year's event at Buddh International Circuit, Vicky Chandhok has said that the Indian Grand Prix
must return to the F1 calendar in 2015 or risk being lost forever.
The race, which has appeared on the grand prix calendar twice since its much-hyped introduction in 2011, is due to take a sabbatical next year, the combined result of rising costs in a tightening economic situation and FOM's desire to move the race to an early season slot, and Chandhok is concerned that it may never make it back onto the schedule.
"If it doesn't come back in 2015, it may never come back at all - that is my concern,” he was quoted by Britain's Guardian
newspaper, before clarifying the reasons for next year's absence, “First, Bernie wanted to switch the race to March, but there was no way we could stage two races in five months. Second, everything has become a lot more expensive….
“Once you lose a race, it can be gone for ever. That is why I am calling on everyone in India to make this Sunday's race an event to remember, so that everyone in F1 will realise that it needs the Indian Grand Prix.”
With more and more potential venues to choose from, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone would not find it hard to replace India, but Chandhok insists that it would be a travesty after the hard work – and hardships including the usual delays and political wrangling – that the challenging 16-turn Buddh International venue went through before finally making it to the calendar.
"If we lose it, I would be very disappointed, because it took us ten years to get the race in the first place,” he continued, “It was in 1999 that Bernie Ecclestone first had talks with organisers and sponsors in India. [Now] everything is progressing like a well-oiled machine.
“India is now recognised worldwide as making great technological advances, so F1 makes sense. The race has [also] been good for the economy for the past two years. Hotels and taxi drivers have been busy and so have other workers. The taxpayers have not been paying for it. It has been a private promoter. It is more than just a sporting occasion. It is an event capable of encouraging people all over the world. It is good for India and good for its government."
Chandhok's son, Karun, wasn't on the grid for the inaugural event two seasons ago, and agrees that it would be sad to see the race follow him into F1 exile so soon after establishing itself.
“The first time I went to the site was in April 2010 and it was a massive dirt field,” he recalled to the official F1 website, “You could see they'd moved the earth around and there were a few elevation contours, but there was nothing that resembled a race track.