New Delhi: The multi taxation issues have to be sorted out for the Indian Grand Prix to return, said Vicky Chandhok, who met Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone on the sidelines of the British Grand Prix in Silverstone.
Chandhok, a former FMSCI president who worked with both Formula One Management and promoters Jaypee Group in getting the high-profile race to India in 2011, said Ecclestone would be happy to return provided the pending tax case in the Bombay High Court is decided in their favour.
"It was nice to meet Bernie again and he is happy to come back to India and race promoters Jaypee too want F1 to return. Hopefully the taxation issues case will be in our favour and with the central government's positive outlook, I do feel we will be able to get the various ministries' support. With the global following the sport has, it is certainly positive for India if the race happens again," Chandhok, who continues to coordinate between FOM and Jaypee, told PTI from Silverstone.
He was accompanied by his racer son Karun and Donald Mackenzie, co-chairman of F1's biggest shareholder CVC, was also part of the meeting. "Nothing major took pace in the meeting which overall had a positive feel to it. We just wanted to check if the appetite for India is still there or if they have moved on to other countries. The good news is that Bernie and CVC are still keen to come to India but they are not happy about the pending tax," said Karun.
Though Chandhok Senior hoped for an early closure of the case, it could take a lot longer than expected. Before the first race took place in 2011, F1 had moved Authority of Advanced Ruling (AAR) to ascertain whether its income is taxable in India. The tax issue and red tape surrounding the event eventually led to the race being dropped after three editions.
The next hearing of the case is in September, making the prospect of the race returning next year increasingly unlikely. And with the season set to be a 21-round affair from 2016, accommodating India will not be easy anyway.
The financial health of Jaypee Group will also need to be factored in as the consortium is sitting on debts of over Rs 60,000 crore. The Group had paid around USD 30 million as annual licensing fee for the three rounds from 2011-2013.
"We are waiting for the income tax issues to be sorted and once they are done, we will be back on track. It is the most important issue facing the race. The Formula One Group will also know what their obligations are (in India) when the tax case is solved," JPSI chief Sameer Gaur had told PTI last month.