25 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Race safe as hearing is delayed
The Indian Grand Prix will go ahead as planned after a bid to have it cancelled was postponed by the Supreme Court.
Doubts over the viability of this weekend's Indian Grand Prix have been erased after the court proceedings that threatened the event were postponed until after Sunday's race.
In a somewhat farcical situation, the grand prix – the third to be held in India – will be allowed to go ahead despite a petition calling for its cancellation having been placed before the Supreme Court on Thursday. The petition claims that race organisers have not paid 'entertainment taxes' from last year's race, and it is not the first time that the Supreme Court has involved with the event as, back in 2011, organisers were ordered to freeze 25 per cent of ticket revenues, again due to a tax dispute.
Activist Amit Kumar, who filed the latest petition in the run up to the 2013 race, has previously argued – successfully - that F1 was entertainment and not sport, and should therefore not benefit from tax exemptions. However, his bid to get this weekend's event cancelled now appears to have failed, with a new date yet to be set for the matter to be brought before the Supreme Court.
"The hearing will now take place next week," a lawyer told AFP, "This means the race can go ahead."
Opening practice was already well underway when confirmation of the news broke, with Sebastian Vettel – who can clinch a fourth straight crown this weekend – topping the times for Red Bull Racing.
Taxation problems have been a constant throughout the short history of the Indian Grand Prix, which will take a break from the F1 calendar in 2014 owing to a combination of rising costs and the championship's desire to move the event to an early-season slot. Despite fears that the sabbatical could sound a death knell for the event, however, organisers believe that it can survive, despite there being greater opposition for a slot on the schedule.
“I think there's a renewed energy now, for sure,” Indian motorsports federation president Vicky Chandhok told reporters, “[Race promoter] Sameer [Gaur] is very keen on making sure that we go ahead for 2015. The entire Jaypee Group are the only people who have put their money where their mouth is and - at no cost to the government - they've delivered to this country a world class facility. Now we have to make sure that we can support them in making sure the events come at a sensible cost and they don't go on spending more and more money in making things happen.”
Gaur has confirmed that there is a contract in place to return in 2015, but Chandhok believes that there will still need to be some renegotiation of the cost of including the event on the F1 calendar.
“Since the rupee has devalued so much, perhaps the Jaypee Group and Formula One Management will be speaking to each other soon, trying to re-negotiate, to try and save some of the loss that happened because of the devaluation,” he was quoted by First Post Sports.
“We [also] need to make a representation [to the Indian government] - and not just on the taxation issue. We need to make a representation on how to partner with us, here we have the infrastructure in place, how to partner with the government to make sure the event doesn't go away.”
The general sentiment in the paddock was also one of sadness should India disappear permanently from the calendar.
“The fan base is certainly growing very, very fast,” Mark Webber observed, “I know cricket is the number one sport here by a long way, but they've certainly shown some incredible enthusiasm to try and understand and attract some interest in the sport.
“They're proud to have a very, very high profile sport, which F1 is, and the track layout is sensational. They're doing what they can to hold a very nice event here, but it doesn't seem to have been enough for next year. I hope that we can come back in the future.”
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
the conversation - Add your comment
Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.