Indian Grand Prix Will Go Off as Planned – We’re Relatively Certain
When you look around at the landscape of Formula One racing, you’ll see that there is a lot of money involved. We’re not kidding; sponsors like Red Bull don’t pour millions into their cars; they pour HUNDREDS of millions. Racers make ten figures routinely; a couple of them have made up to $3 million a race.
But from a financial standpoint, it doesn’t always run so smoothly. And F1 bettors who follow the sport closely are well aware of that.
The Indian Grand Prix is in trouble, and the organizers can’t even do anything to disguise that fact. It is too public for it not to be a subject of discussion in F1 circles.
It’s become a foregone conclusion that the event will not be run next year. In fact, it has been dropped from the 2014 F1 calendar, with the best hope that it may be able to return in 2015. Ostensibly the reason was to switch the race from this time of year to the spring, with it being very unfeasible to have to stage the race again so soon.
But it was THIS year’s event that someone wants to put in jeopardy, although it will probably not play out that way. But that kind of uncertainty puts the Formula One teams in a rough position, because they are all in place. And it also spoils the fact that Sebastian Vettel, the world championship points leader by a wide margin, could conceivably clinch that title this week.
The promoters, Jaypee Sports International, have certainly not been in the best of financial shape, and they don’t seem to have many friends or supporters in the government, even though everyone would agree that the Grand Prix is among the country’s top international sporting events.
A local activist named Amit Kumar launched a “Public Interest Litigation” that contended Formula One was not sport, but “entertainment” and therefore should not be exempt from entertainment taxes. The promoters of the Indian Grand Prix did not pay their entertainment taxes in 2012. And that opens up a potential can of worms, because 25% of ticket revenues were supposed to be withheld so that the state government of Uttar Pradesh could be paid.
Of course, if we’re making casual conversation, we acknowledge that sports IS entertainment, but when we are talking about India and its laws, the distinction becomes extremely important. If it is a “sport,” then there are tax exemptions to be had; as entertainment there are none. There are also issues with visas and entries on the part of the members of the various Formula One teams that come to compete that rely on how the event is classified.
The amount of paperwork everybody involved has to fill out is extraordinary – all because it is “entertainment” and not sport. Chess is considered a sport in India, but not F1 racing.
A hearing was to be held on Friday in front of India’s Supreme Court, where the petition to cancel the Grand Prix was to be heard.
Vicky Chandhok, leader of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, was confident that the government would not step in and cancel the event. And it would indeed be extremely short notice for such a cancellation to be ruled upon.
Groups in India have large amounts of money invested in the sport (yes, we’re in that camp), not the least of which is the Sahara Force India team (+500 to have a car “retire” first in Bet365’s odds), which features Paul di Resta (+2000 to score a top six finish in this week’s race) as its main driver. He said it would be considered a “big letdown” for his team and its efforts if the Grand Prix were to be lost.
When the Indian Grand Prix launched in 2011, it gained much praise from the outside sporting world, because it was successful as a result of being a completely private enterprise. In fact, they drew 110,000 fans. Seven of the teams drew one-race sponsorship deals. Everyone seemed to be happy. Bernie Ecclestone, the guy who runs Formula One, has said about India, “you can’t let it get away.” They’re not necessarily looking to be subsidized by the government itself, although as a “sport,” such a thing would be possible.
For now, the organizers would just settle for having everyone get off their backs.
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