McLaren driver Sergio Perez believes that Formula 1 is getting highly popular in India. He says the sport certainly "needs India" and hopes the race returns in 2015 after giving the next season a miss.
"It is a shame that the Indian Grand Prix is not happening in India next year. I think Formula 1 needs India and it is getting more and more popular every time we come here. I really hope we can come back," Perez told IANS in an interview here Wednesday.
The Indian GP was taken off the 2014 calendar as it did not make sense to host the race in late 2014 and early 2015, when the Grand Prix is scheduled to return to the Buddh International Circuit (BIC).
"The interest is growing in India. More and more people are taking notice, so it is getting better. It will be good if we can keep the race from 2015," added the 23-year-old on the sidelines of his team's tie-up with Gillette.
The customs and tax issues notwithstanding, the organisers of the Indian GP, Jaypee Sports International, have a five-year contract and the race is on the provisional 2015 calendar. Whether the race will return to India, is another question.
"India is a difficult place to get in, to get out, to get things and to get any updates during the weekend. It's got more to do with that kind of stuff than anything else. Otherwise we all enjoy coming to India. It is a great country and it is a place which we will miss next year. About 2015? Well you never really know in Formula 1."
As for this season, Perez, also known as 'Checo', said it has been one of their worst seasons for a top team like McLaren, who have not won a single race the entire year.
"Being in a team like McLaren you expect a lot more. The car was looking good before the season started, but things change very fast in F1. I don't see us getting better in the remaining four races. I am disappointed as it has been quite a painful season for us. I hope we will be strong next season with the new regulations," said Perez.
Formula 1 tyre suppliers Pirelli have brought in different compounds for the Indian round. Unlike the last two Grands Prix where the hard and soft tyres were used, Pirelli have this time come with medium and soft.
"To bring the tyres up to temperature will be a bit more difficult. I expect this to make the Indian Grand Prix very interesting. The temperatures are also cooler this time, so it will definitely affect our strategies," said the McLaren driver, who crashed out of the 2012 Indian GP.
The F1 calendar will have an unprecedented 22 races next season, something most of the paddock won't be happy about. But Checo feels differently as the Mexican Grand Prix, his home race, will be revived in 2014 for the first time since 1992.
"I don't think we will have 22 races. For sure one or two will be dropped but I only hope it is not the Mexican Grand Prix," he said with a chuckle.