Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on Wednesday promised the return of Indian Grand Prix in 2015 provided the race promoters, Jaypee Group, fulfill the financial requirements of the existing five-year contract. Ecclestone told PTI from his London office that he is expecting a meeting with the Jaypee officials soon to sort out the contractual matters that has put the future of the race in doubt after it was dropped from the 2014 calendar.
“It is all very clear. They just need to come here (London) and sort out the existing contract. Though the race promoters have not said when they will come over, we are constantly talking and they look very eager to get the race back. I am also confident that all financial issues will be sorted out and India will be back on the calendar,” said Ecclestone, making it amply clear that India’s rigid tax and bureaucratic set-up were not the only hurdles facing the race.
Jaypee Sports International CEO Sameer Gaur had earlier said that he would meet Ecclestone in April to work towards getting the race back next year. Though no Jaypee official was available for a comment on Wednesday, the meeting between Formula One Management and owners of Buddh International Circuit is likely to be held post the outcome of the general election on May 16. Gaur had also said last month that he expected more support from the next government at the centre.
The history shows it is tough for a race to return on ever-crowded calendar but Ecclestone said he will “make space” for India after the important issues are resolved. “As I have said in the past, India is an important market for Formula One. I really want to see the race return,” said the 83-year-old.
The F1 Czar had also made it clear earlier that Jaypee will have to give financial guarantees for the remaining two races of the contract.
Most of the F1 races around the world are backed by the government that pay huge sums to the Formula One Management as hosting fees. Jaypee, as a private entity, pays around $40 million annually to host the race.
The conversation with Ecclestone soon veered towards his ongoing bribery trial in Germany where he has denied bribing $45 million to jailed German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky for selling a stake of the Formula One empire to a company he favoured, in 2006.
“I know there is a lot of talks going on (regarding the case) but I should be fine by the end of the trial,” said the British magnate, whose 40-year reign over Formula 1 could come to an end if he is found guilty.