Greater Noida, Oct 24: On the eve of the Indian Grand Prix weekend, the talking point at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) is whether the race would indeed be back on the Formula One roster in 2015 after skipping the next year.
Whatever be the speculation over the future of the race, the two men who matter — Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and chief promoter Sameer Gaur of the Jaypee Sports International Limited (JPSI) — have little doubt that the race would be back after the calendar gets tweaked, clubbing all the Asian races in a clip.
In the same breath, the connoisseurs are also discussing the fate of the drivers and constructors championship in the third edition here Sunday. They all wager a bet on Sebastian Vettel getting on to the podium as champion for the fourth successive year and his team Red Bull retaining the constructors championship.
Despite being awarded the ‘Best F1 Promoter’ for two consecutive years by the sports’ governing body, FIA, the Indian GP’s future is linked to political, tax, customs, logistical and bureaucratic niggles. There is a sneaky suspicion that these issues have led to the Indian round being dropped in 2014 and will continue to fester even in 2015, raising doubts over its return.
The government is also unbending. It doesn’t recognise F1 as a sport, forcing organisers to cough up tax and duties on various things connected with the race and, to make matters worse, the Uttar Pradesh government has imposed entertainment tax on tickets effective this year.
There is another problem for the organisers to reclaim the race — an increasingly congested calendar. To put all doubts to rest and force the race to return, the organisers must put up an impeccable show this weekend.
One of the critical issues is the turnout of fans. The attendance dropped from 95,000 in the first year to 65,000 in 2012. While talking to IANS after last year’s race, Ecclestone was all sympathy for the organisers when he said that in the first year the race would always be big, but in the second year the interest invariably drops. The third edition is crucial as it would indicate the event’s popularity.
However, the likelihood of defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel winning his fourth title and Red Bull’s coronation here could bring crowds flocking to the BIC.
All eyes will be on the youngest triple World Champion Vettel. His victory in Japan two weeks ago has given him a monumental 90-point advantage over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings. The third Indian Grand Prix could becomes a historic race as Vettel could be crowned champion a fourth time here.
All that the Red Bull driver needs is a fifth place finish Sunday — even if Alonso wins the race — to become only the fourth driver in history to win four titles, joining the exclusive club of Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.
The 26-year-old will also become the youngest man to win four titles in a row with only Fangio and Schumacher fitting into that category.
Red Bull leads the constructors’ standings with 445 points with Ferrari way back on second with 297 points, giving the Milton Keynes-based outfit the opportunity to do a double this weekend. With this gigantic 148-point lead, Red Bull only have to maintain a 129-point gap to seal their fourth consecutive title — the best run since Ferrari dominated the last decade.
And who would bet against Vettel, who has a perfect record at the BIC, having led from pole-to-finish in the last two races!