Does India need a Grand Prix?
F1 racing is the most-watched sports world over with over 500 million television viewers. It is also one of the most expensive sporting events in the world. The average fee for hosting an F1 race is $27 million. There are a minimum of 18 Grand Prix every year with hosting fees ranging from zero for Monaco to $67 million for Malaysia. In almost all the countries the government supports the race as the promoter has no source of revenue apart from ticket sales. All other rights for the race are with the Formula One management. It is rumoured that the Jaypee Group paid $40 million to host the race. But, it was able to generate only half the amount, $22 million, from ticket sales. So, it becomes very difficult for the promoter to make profit without government support. Jayesh Desai, also known as JD, a race enthusiast and president of Northern Motorsport says that the government should support the race logistically.
“The government should at least facilitate the race by easing the rules for smooth transfer of cars from cargo to the circuit and vice versa, waiving off taxes and not creating administrative hurdles,” says JD, who is also a member of Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI). He, however, clarifies that financial support is different from logistical support. “No one is asking for money from the government to organise the race. Being business-friendly and giving money are two different things, says JD.
The Indian Grand Prix had put the country on the map of international motor sports. The race may be a private event but it is bound to benefit the economy of a nation. For any country hosting the F1 race, its tourism gets a huge boost. It is believed that as many as 50,000 tourists flocked to India to watch the F1 race.
“It may be a private event, but the entire country benefits from it. There is a direct exposure of the country to millions of viewers worldwide. There are several economic benefits for the host country. For example, I was told that the hotels in the vicinity of the circuit were running to full capacity, which otherwise go vacant most of the times. Also, there is a possibility of most of the tourists going to Agra to see Taj Mahal which is just a couple of hours away,” says JD.
Adding to JD’s argument, Vicky Chandhok, former president of FMSCI , tells TEHELKA that the country at large benefits from the race. He also says that the F1 race had repaired the damage done by the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam. “It’s unfortunate that the race got discontinued. What Formula One did to India was commendable, especially after the 2010 Commonwealth Games scam. The F1 race connected India to 500 million viewers across the globe.
It presented India as the technologically advanced country to the world because F1 is the most hi-tech sport globally,” says Chandhok, who was also the vice-president of the event. He is hopeful that the dispute between the promoter and the government will soon get over and the race will come back to India. Let’s hope that the Grand Prix returns to India otherwise the Buddh International Circuit runs the risk of becoming the most sought-after wedding destination in the country.