It is high time the Indian government realises the potential of hosting marquee motorsport events like F1, JK Tyre Managing Director Raghupati Singhania has said. Singhania’s comments come in the wake of five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton’s controversial statement in which he questioned the need to host a Formula One race in a “poor” country like India.
It cost Rs 2000 crore to build Buddh International Circuit (BIC) which has now become a ‘white elephant’ after Formula One left Indian shores in 2013. “It (BIC) is a huge investment for a country like ours. It is unfortunate (that not many racing events happen at BIC),” Singhania told PTI on the sidelines of the JK Tyre National Racing Championships held at BIC over the weekend.
“We were involved with F1 as a support partner when the race came to India. My good friend Bernie Ecclestone (former F1 boss) once told me ‘it is your government which puts all kinds of hurdle’.”
If it was not for the complex tax policy, Formula One would have survived in India, he said. “F1 is like a circus, they come and go and our government imposed import duty on their goods. That is the only reason they pulled out. Otherwise, India would still be on the F1 map.
“As a country, we need to realise that this is a global sporting event and an opportunity to boost the profile of our nation.”
Even the rapidly-growing Formula E series has ruled out a race in India due to the aggressive tax policies.
Formula E has been vying an expansion into the lucrative Indian market for the last few years, with Mahindra, one of the founding teams in the series, also pushing to bring the all-electric championship to the sub-continent.
The Mumbai-based manufacturer held a showrun at the Buddh International Circuit in 2016, subsequent to which it received a letter of intent from the Delhi government, pledging its support for a race in the Indian capital.