When India hosted the latest Formula One race, in last October, Jaypee Sports International Ltd (JPSI) boss Sameer Gaur had said he’d ‘bet his life’ on race returning in 2015 after this year’s break. The race had been scrapped for ‘political reason’ although it is said that taxation issues were behind it.
However, Bernie Ecclestone’s latest statement that the race is unlikely to return next year has sent Indian motorsports into a tizzy and Gaur scampering for a meeting with the F1 supremo.
“Probably 2016... They’re gradually getting over all the bureaucracy with the tax position inside the country and the general finance,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying when asked if the race will take place in India in 2015.
Asked to comment on this, Gaur said, “I will soon set up a meeting with Mr Ecclestone and talk to him directly over the matter. As I have said earlier, I would want the race to return next year but let us see what comes out of the meeting with Mr Ecclestone.”
Although Gaur has refused to comment on details of the planned meeting, a joint effort to put pressure on the government is expected.
Both the Formula One Management (FOM) and JPSI are unhappy that Formula One is treated as entertainment and not recognised as sport by the government due to which it has to pay 25% entertainment tax on ticket sales to the UP government. That apart participating teams have to pay tax on equipment that’s brought into the country.
Despite this not being considered a sport, JPSI has been contributing Rs 10 crore to Sports Ministry’s National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) and this hasn’t gone down well with them.
Although FMSCI (Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India), the apex body, has applied to the sports ministry to be recognised as a national sports federation, the response is awaited.
The nod of approval may also trickle down and help F1 get labelled as sport and open it to tax exemptions.
Akbar Ebrahim, the chairman of racing at FMSCI, said, “The good thing is that the International Olympic Committee has recognised the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and made it a full member. So, once we have the recognition, the drivers are no longer going to be considered as entertainers but as athletes.”
Until now, three of the five contracted races at Greater Noida’s Buddh International Circuit (BIC) have taken place. The India Grand Prix was held in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but was scrapped for 2014.