Analysis of why was F1 unsuccessful in India

Buddh International Circuit

F1 was brought to Indian in 2011 when the Buddh International Circuit hosted the Indian Grand Prix for three years till 2013 before the entrance to the place was closed by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority(YEIDA).

History of the circuit

Notable track designer Hermann Tilke designed the circuit. There had been discussion to bring F1 to India in the late 1990s, but nothing was ever finalised for one reason or another.  But finally, in September of 2007, after consideration, it was announced that the first Indian Grand Prix would take place in 2010 on the Buddh International Circuit. It was eventually delayed to 2011 after further assessment in the timeframe involved.

The circuit was built in Greater Noida near New Delhi and was 5.125 km long. The circuit was developed by Jaypee Sports Limited, an affiliate of Jaypee Group. The first race took place on 30 October 2011 as the 17th race of the 2011 Formula One Season. Sebastian Vettel won the inaugural race. He also ended up winning the other two races held at the circuit, which also included him winning his fourth World Drivers Championship in 2013.

Sebastian Vettel celebrating his title victory at the third and final Indian Grand Prix

The circuit was praised for the high-speed layout and challenging corner combinations described by former World Champion Jenson Button as challenging to drive in a consistently quick fashion. It was also praised by many other former World Champions like Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, and Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton compared it to the classic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

Reasons for the cancellation of the circuit

The circuit was initially signed to a 5-year deal with F1, but the 2014 edition was postponed due to a tax dispute between the circuit and the F1A because the local Government classed F1 as entertainment and not a sport. This meant that F1 was required to  65% entertainment tax to the Indian Government, which was simply not possible. Because of that, subsequent editions also have failed to go ahead.

Former Indian F1 driver Karun Chandhok was asked whether he believes if F1 will return to India or not in an interview with Motor Sports podcast in 2019. “Unless the Government has a change of heart and gets behind the sport, I don’t see it happening again. It’s a real shame. There were plenty of opportunities [around the event]. The race track was on the highway to Agra, where the Taj Mahal is. There’s a lot of opportunities there to have done co-branded events for tourism and things like that, but they never quite got that all off the ground.” Chandhok also explained the rising popularity of F1 in India compared to some other venues on the F1 calendar.

“India has and had a huge F1 fanbase. When we went to race at places like Istanbul, I remember 2007 being on the grid, we looked at the grandstand, and there were 11 people in. In contrast, the first Indian GP had 110,000. It was very, very powerful. Especially the first couple of years. And unfortunately, that’s died away as the race has gone away. The absolute peak of interest in F1, or in motorsport in general, was 2010-2012 because you had Narain [Karthikeyan] and myself who were driving in F1 and Force India had just been taken over, and we had the Grand Prix. It’s just a shame that financially, the Government wasn’t willing to back it,” concluded Chandhok.

Buddh International Circuit

F1 was brought to Indian in 2011 when the Buddh International Circuit hosted the Indian Grand Prix for three years till 2013 before the entrance to the place was closed by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority(YEIDA).

The circuit was built in Greater Noida near New Delhi and was 5.125 km long. The circuit was developed by Jaypee Sports Limited, an affiliate of Jaypee Group. The first race took place on 30 October 2011 as the 17th race of the 2011 Formula One Season. Sebastian Vettel won the inaugural race. He also ended up winning the other two races held at the circuit, which also included him winning his fourth World Drivers Championship in 2013.


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