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F1 faces grim fate in India

While the Singapore Grand Prix finished on a high this year, the event is hitting major problems in India.

Despite the Indian Grand Prix only in its third year and with another two more years on its contract, the event will not be continuing next year, though speculation is that it will return in 2015.

The race was estimated to have cost over US$400m (£246m) to be brought in to India and it seems that the event is not attracting enough eyeballs and garnering enough money, said a BBC article.

In an Afaqs article, the event saw a drop in ticket sales. Ticket sales in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix saw sales numbers hitting 97,000 but last year’s event saw ticket sales dropping to 65,000, with this year’s set to drop lower.

McLaren Mercedes F1 driver Sergio Perez said to BBC Newsthat motorsport is yet to capture the imagination of the Indian public.

“I think Formula 1 is not very popular here. But the interest is growing among the media and the fans. India is a very big market for Formula 1 and we should definitely be aiming to come back,” Perez said, adding that F1 should return to India.

The BBC report stated that F1 owner, Bernie Ecclestone reportedly could not agree on dates with the Indian organisers.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone announced earlier this year that the 2014 Indian Grand Prix would have to be dropped to tweak the racing calendar.

However, according to Sameer Gaur, CEO of Jaypee Sports International which owns and operates the race circuit, the F1 management wanted them to hold the race in March, which was not ideal.

“It was not practical to host one now and another in six months. But there should be no doubt that we will be back in 2015,” Gaur added.

More reasons for cancellation

While speculation abounds as to why the event was cancelled, unfriendly government policies were one reason pointed out.

The F1 has been classified as entertainment, rather than sport by the state government of Uttar Pradesh, which means that  organisers need to pay tax and duties on everything connected with the race. Fans will also need to pay entertainment tax on each ticket. A hefty price tag in bringing the race to India is another chief reason for the cancellation of the event. This reason, coupled with rising costs and low revenue are also contributing factors, said the BBC.

With India’s rupee depreciating by over 40% in the past two years, the venue needs to pay the F1 management an estimated licence fee of US$40m annually, on top of the initial investment and operation costs.

The difficulty for fans in entering the country was another reason that hindered the event, particularly in getting visas.

Indian Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok, told the BBC: “Just this week, I have had at least 50 different media people from around the world, and people from teams, engineers who have called me to say – hey we are stuck in London without a visa, we can’t come to the race. When you have 700 world media coming to talk about your country and about your race – the only thing they are going to go back with is what a pain it was to get into your country.”

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