The recent statement by Formula 1 Managing Director Sean Bratches that there could be more street races in Asia is a welcome one.
This looks like a good opportunity for India to capitalise on the situation and bid for a street race.
Just three of the five contracted races were held at the Buddh International Circuit. There is not much doubt that Formula 1 wants to return to India, with the country being a major economic power now.
Commercially, it makes sense. But with promoters Jaypee Sports International in all sorts of financial difficulties, we may not see a race return to the BIC. Or at least not till something drastic happens like someone bailing them out.
In such a scenario, why would it not be a good idea to think of a street race? Long ago, before the BIC was built, there was talk of having a street race in Bangalore or New Delhi. Eventually, the buzz died down and the BIC was built.
A street race in a major city makes more sense considering that there is trouble in the company that owns BIC. Building another track is out of the question for two reasons. No company would want to risk it considering what happened to BIC. Secondly, land is ridiculously expensive in any of the major cities.
In light of the above reasons, a street race could be the next best option. McLaren Group’s Executive Director Zak Brown had, not very long ago, supported the return of F1 to India. He had also suggested that countries like China could have a second race, on the street.
Liberty Media also seems to be interested in getting F1 back to the Subcontinent. If a lot of people are in favour of it, why not give it a serious thought? There are surely a lot of corporates or conglomerates who can afford it.
A street race in India would be a novelty that people will most likely enjoy.
However, there is no doubt that even a street race will require a lot of effort. There is the coordination with the city administration just to begin with. That section of the city will have to be shut down for a few days before the race. How all that will be managed is the question.
More importantly, if F1 is to come back, there needs to be tremendous government support. And not financially, but with customs, avoiding heavy taxation etc..
Whether it is a street race or at BIC, it makes sense to get F1 back to India since the tourism and allied industries tend to make a huge profit.