Following overnight comments from Bernie Ecclestone that the Indian Grand Prix is unlikely to be on the 2014 F1 world championship calendar, the chief of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India Vicky Chandhok has confirmed next year's race is indeed in doubt.
"Is India going to happen next year? Probably not," Ecclestone had told Reuters
at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend. "It's very political," he added, alluding to a combination of red tape, local taxation rules and ongoing concerns over the event's financial viability. (See original story
The event is still contracted to hold three more races including this year's race on October 27, and according to Chandhok the negotiations are now turning to how the commitment can be fulfilled if the 2014 race is not able to go ahead.
"I think what they are trying is to find a solution to run 2015 early in the year and 2016 instead of 2014 late," he explained.
"Apparently they are trying to find a mutually convenient date to start early in the year in 2015," he told Reuters
. "With that in mind, 2014 obviously doesn't make logical sense - nobody can afford to have a late start in 2014 and then host another grand prix early 2015.
"I am saying that's what Bernie must have meant," Chandhok added, insisting that everyone involved was still committed to keeping F1 in India. "Instead of running in October, November, [the race] will be postponed by four months to run the next year ... And since their contract is for five years, they will run 2015 and 2016."
Meanwhile race promoters Jaypee Sports International insist that as far as they're concerned, the 2014 and 2015 races will go ahead as originally planned.
"We have not got anything in writing from the F1 management regarding the status of the 2014 Indian Grand Prix," said a spokesman for JSI. ""We are keen that F1 races take place in India at the Buddh International Circuit till our contract is in operation, that is, 2015."
During the Hungarian Grand Prix weekends, team principals were asked about the likelihood of the Indian Grand Prix being on next year's F1 calendar and managed to be largely evasive about revealing what they had been told by Ecclestone in a private meeting in Budapest on Friday.
Previously the team bosses had been worried about the impact of next year's calendar growing to as many as 21 or 22 races after the announcement that the championship would be returning to Austria in 2014, but McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh had been canny enough to suggest that it might simply be a case that Bernie Ecclestone was lining up some 'spare' events in case anything happened.
"There's always - in this climate - locations that maybe in doubt and therefore having some back ups isn't a bad idea," he told reporters on Saturday. "So I don't know if the calendar would grow to 22, but 22 would certainly be incredibly tough on the teams.
"But that's the business we're in - we used to think that going beyond 16 was going to be tough. It is tough, and of course a lot more of them are outside Europe now," he added.