India says shift in F1 dates a scheduling issue

By C. Rajshekhar Rao, AP, 31 July 2013
© AP Photo/Mark Baker

Indian Grand Prix organisers say the removal of the race from next year's Formula 1 calendar is part of a switch in schedule and not because of teams' unhappiness with the country's taxation regulations.

The third edition of the Indian Grand Prix is scheduled for Oct. 27 at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi but organisers have been told there will be no race in 2014 as part of an expected switch to being an early-season race in March 2015.

Jaypee Group spokesman Askar Zaidi told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the change was required as new races are added in 2014, with the inaugural Russian Grand Prix mooted to take India's date in October.

"This is a scheduling matter and these kinds of adjustments take place all the while. There are new destinations that are being considered and this is the time of the year when the schedules are worked out," Zaidi said.

Zaidi said the Jaypee Group had been informed of the change by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, with next year's calendar to be formally announced in September.

A switch to March would make India part of the early-season Asian swing, with races also held in Bahrain, Australia, Malaysia and China.

"We were offered the race for March 2014 but we said we could not hold two races so close to each other. We were then given the option of holding it in March in subsequent years.

"In fact, we had been given the dates around March originally (for the 2011 race) but we had requested them for October. They agreed at that point in time but now there are other options that they need to look at," he said.

The absence of India from the 2014 calendar and Ecclestone's comment that the reasons were "political" had sparked speculation that teams were no longer willing to visit a venue that places high duty imposts on the importation of the vast amounts of F1 equipment.

While denying that had been a factor in the change, Zaidi acknowledged that the high taxes remain a concern.

"There are taxation issues which are being handled. It is not an issue which can derail the race here," he added.

The addition of Russia, Austria and a second U.S. Grand Prix in New Jersey to next year's calendar -- along with the 19 existing races -- has created a squeeze for F1 officials, as teams remain adamant they want no more than 20 races in a season.

India's removal for a year goes some way to addressing that problem, although its promised re-admission for 2015 -- when there will be even more candidates to host races -- will also be difficult to manage.


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