Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday asserted that the troubled Indian Grand Prix has run out of time for a 2015 return and its organisers must settle the contractual obligations for a possible comeback in 2016.
Ecclestone was hoping the race organisers, Jaypee Group, will sort out the five-year contract in time for a return next year but that has not happened yet, leaving the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) owners too little time to get the event back on track. Usually, the FIA World Motor Sport Council ratifies the next season's calendar in September and the final one in December.
"It is too late for 2015. We (Formula One Management and Jaypee) are looking at 2016 now and hopefully the tax issues in India will also be sorted out by then. The organisers also need to settle the existing contract before we get back. I am expecting to see them next week," Ecclestone told PTI from his London office.
After the event was dropped for 2014, the 83-year-old had revealed that the race promoters had not complied with the contract, mainly the financial side of it. The tax and bureaucratic set-up in India has anyway made the teams and FOM uncomfortable, putting the high-profile event in further jeopardy.
As it is, accommodating India on the ever-crowded calendar will not be easy. Mexico's return next year after a 23-year absence takes the calendar up to 20 races and Azerbaijan has also confirmed a deal to make its F1 debut in 2016. Russia makes its debut in October this year.