Former Indian motorsports body chief Vicky Chandhok (in file pic with Bernie Ecclestone), who helped the Jaypee Group get Formula One to India, says the chances of the race returning to the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida are unlikely, unless the government liberalises its policies.
Chandhok obviously was referring to the stakeholders' demand that the teams get tax relief and hassle-free import of vehicles and equipment into the country.
His reaction comes two days after F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said India's return to the F1 itinerary was likely to be delayed beyond 2015, fuelling speculation whether the event will ever be held again after getting dropped from the 2014 calendar.
"After what all has happened recently, it will be very tough for India to get the race back. The sport raised the country's profile around the world, but unfortunately the Indian government does not see it as a sport to help the stakeholders cross the hurdles," Chandhok told IANS on Friday.
Chandhok was president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) in 2007 when a provisional agreement was signed between the Formula One Management (FOM) and race promoters Jaypee Group before he returned to head the body again in 2010.
The inaugural Indian Grand Prix eventually took place in 2011 and after three fairly successful editions, suddenly insurmountable glitches surfaced, putting the future of the race in jeopardy.
The reason for that is that the stakeholders (especially FOM and teams) are not happy with the country's taxation policies and bureaucratic redtape. What makes matters worse is that motorsports is not considered as a sport in India even when the country's parent Olympic body, International Olympic Committee (IOC), recognises the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
"Just to give an example on how taxation policy is a major hindrance: The Indian government expects the teams to share their sponsorship contracts with them and based on that the authorities will tax them. The teams are not required to do that anywhere else in the world and more so they are not at all comfortable sharing their sponsorship agreements. This is one of the many ticklish issues," said Chandhok.
"It makes me sad that we are talking about the event's future only after three races, but its return is highly unlikely with the way things are. We needed to welcome F1 with open arms," he lamented.
As it is, the history shows it is tough for a race to return in the increasingly crowded calendar. San Marino Grand Prix (1981-2006), Mexican Grand Prix (1962-1992) and French Grand Prix (1950-2008) are among the many historical races which have not been successful in making a comeback.