26 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Mallya confident of India return
Vijay Mallya has shrugged off concerns over the future of the Indian Grand Prix, despite the event taking a year off the calendar in 2014.
Force India team owner Vijay Mallya has said that he expects to see his homeland return to the F1 schedule after taking a year out in 2014.
This weekend's Indian Grand Prix will be the third held at Buddh International Circuit, but the event will be missing from the calendar next year, ostensibly because the organisers feel it is impractical to try and stage two races in the space of six months, as would be necessary as part of a planned date shuffle that would move India to the early part of the 2014 campaign.
While sceptics suggest that skipping a year could be the death knell for an event that has routinely thrown up questions over its viability – especially when it comes to taxation issues – Mallya remains firmly in the optimists' camp, insisting that the race will be back on the schedule in 2015.
“When I was walking in this morning, I met Mr JP Gaur, the owner of the circuit and the promoter of the race and, obviously, I asked him about the continuance of the Indian Grand Prix,” he revealed, “I must say I was very, very happy when he confidently and enthusiastically confirmed that the race will be back in 2015 onwards, on a sustainable basis. I was delighted to hear that.
“The official version given [for missing next season] was that 2014 posed scheduling problems and, therefore, you couldn't have a race now, in October 2013, then in early 2014, so I wouldn't like to comment or contradict that.
“All I'm interested in, as an Indian, and realising the vast potential that this country offers, and looking at the investment that has gone into creating this rightly voted number one facility, is that I want F1 to be back in India and therefore I was delighted when the promoter confirmed that F1 would be back from 2015 onwards.”
Despite claims that red tape was also an issue for the race, with teams facing 'paperwork problems' as they attempted to bring their equipment and personnel into India, Mallya's rivals played down the situation.
“To be honest, we didn't have any problems at all, no issues with any kind of logistics or whatever it is on that respect,” Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali commented, “Honestly, for us, it is important to see such an important country like India hosting this grand prix, to make sure that the promotion is done in a way that we can have all the fans of India cheering and staying close with the teams because this is something that, for sure, is an important element of the show.”
Mercedes' Ross Brawn echoed Domenicali's positive comments, adding his support for the Indian event.
“I think the same as Stefano,” he said, “The organisation behind it all has been very smooth, there's been no problem at all, and we've got everything here that we need to have here. We enjoy the enthusiasm of the Indian fans and it's a very important country for us to establish F1 in, so we support it completely and hope we're going to be back here soon.”
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