Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has announced that the Indian Grand Prix will take a one year hiatus from the sport and that no race will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in 2014.
The removal of the GP from the 2014 schedule is a result of Eccllestone and the race’s promoters agreeing to move the date of the race from October to a date on the front half of the calendar. Ecclestone had always wanted the event to be held during the early part of the season and it will now be run during the same stretch as the races in Australia, Bahrain, Malaysia and China.
Given that the date of the race would be moved Ecclestone and Jaypee, the group that organizes the race, decided that it would be too difficult to fund a GP in October of 2014 and early on in 2015. Given the financial situation the decision was made to remove the race from the 2014 schedule and pick up the circuit’s five year contract again beginning in 2015.
India’s removal from the schedule for next season makes it easier for F1 to find a spot on the calendar to put the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. The future of a second race in the United States planned to take place on the New Jersey coast with Manhattan as a backdrop is still uncertain as little is known about the progress of the proposed street track. Promoters of the Grand Prix of America, as the proposed NJ race has been dubbed, have encountered issues with resurfacing the roads and getting them up to FIA standards due to the high volume of commuter traffic in the area. Should the race be a go for 2014, it will also be aided by India’s departure for the sake of scheduling purposes.
Attendance at the Indian race dropped noticeably from the 2011 maiden running of the GP to the 2012 edition. Ecclestone commented that it is always hard for promoters to bring crowds back in the second year of a race but that he “hope[s] bigger crowds turn up for the third edition”.
Such a comment makes me wonder if Ecclestone will consider scrapping plans to bring the race back for 2015 and beyond if attendance does not improve this season. With Russia joining the Formula One schedule, a second US race being fought for and other nations popping up all the time with a desire to host F1 races it is possible that Bernie could decide to walk away from India if signs point to the race becoming less successful.