2014 Indian F1 GP may be scrapped due to 'political' problem
The Indian Grand Prix is likely to be dropped from next year's Formula One calendar, as Russia prepares for its debut, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters.
"Is India going to happen next year? Probably not," he said, at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Asked what the problem was with the race at Greater Noida, near New Delhi, the 82-year-old British billionaire replied: "Very political."
Ecclestone, who has run Formula One for decades, draws up the calendar and usually presents it to the governing International Automobile Federation to be rubber-stamped in September.
He currently has a possible 22 races jostling for space on the calendar with teams expressing a strong preference for a maximum of 20.
Russia, with a debut race pencilled in for the Black Sea resort of Sochi towards the end of next year, and a Grand Prix in New Jersey are the two novelties planned for 2014 with Austria also due to make a comeback after an 11-year absence.
India first hosted a Grand Prix in 2011 to positive reviews from the Formula One community and this year's is scheduled for October 27, as the 16th round of the 19-race championship.
The two races to date in India were both won by Red Bull's triple World champion Sebastian Vettel.
Image: The Buddh International circuit in Noida
'There is no reason for us to give up hosting F1 races'
There are bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, however, as well as concern about finances and the sport's exposure to high local taxation.
Promoters Jaypee Sports International issued a statement last month attacking "totally baseless and malicious" media speculation about next year's race.
"Our agreement with Formula One Management is to hold F1 races at Buddh International Circuit (BIC) till 2015 and we are fully committed to do that," said Jaypee spokesman Askari Zaidi in that statement.
"There is no reason for us to give up hosting F1 races."
Next year's Indian Grand Prix was the subject of much discussion in Hungary, with teams recognising it faced problems but hoping they could be resolved.
"It would be a pity if for these (tax) reasons we don't go there," Sauber's Indian-born principal Monisha Kaltenborn said.
"India is an important market for partners who are already in Formula One or who could get into Formula One because of that market so it really would be a pity if we would not manage to sort out these problems."
Image: A race at the Buddh International Circuit during the Indian GP in Noida
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'We are looking to hold talks with Ecclestone as to what prompted him to make such a statement'
"We are looking to hold talks with Ecclestone as to what prompted him to make such a statement. There is a possibility that some amendments could be worked out in the current contract to keep our place in the F1 calendar," a JPSI spokesperson said.
"Everything depends on the September meeting where the provisional 2014 calendar will be drawn up. The drivers want a maximum of 20 races and with the likely addition of three new venues, everything rests in the hands of Ecclestone," said the official.
Image: Adrian Sutil of Force India races during the Indian F1 GP in 2012
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images