One-and-a-half years after India last hosted a Formula 1 race, the central government has officially recognized motorsport as a sporting discipline with immediate effect.
The Indian government's bureaucratic and taxation policies have previously caused logistical and import related problems for motorsports events in the country. Several F1 teams complained of heavy taxes and cargo being held by the customs office.
A very obvious example of this was tyre balancing equipment of the Mercedes F1 team being held up in customs during the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011, which lead to a sub par qualifying session for Michael Schumacher due to heavy tyre vibration. The German legend was eventually able to get access to the equipment and finish the race in a strong fifth position ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, though.
The import policy for racing cars and motorcycles was altered to eliminate such problems and allow for smooth transport to and from a racing venue last January.
Now, the inclusion of governing body Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of India (FMSCI) in the list of National Sports Federations, as reported by PTI, comes as welcome news for those hoping for the return of F1 to India as well as future motorsport events.
However, an important thing to note is that FMSCI has been included in ‘Others’ Category, meaning the government won’t be providing any financial support.
With this development, the attention turns to debt-ridden Jaypee Group - who own the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) - to bring back Formula 1 to India and/or other international events such as MotoGP and the World Endurance Championship. The conglomerate has been forced to sell its core assets to bring down ever mounting debts.
The BIC hosted three editions of the Indian Grand Prix between 2011 and 2013 before Formula One Management (FOM) dropped the race on contractual issues. The event is reportedly returning to India in 2016 or 2017 after a constructive meeting between promoters Jaypee Group and F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone at last year’s Russian Grand Prix.
As far as other motorsports categories are concerned, the same venue came close to hosting the first round of the 2013 MotoGP season, before commercial arm Dorna decided otherwise. The World Superbike Championship went a step ahead and put India on its calendar, before cancelling the race on ‘operational grounds’