x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Court case not expected to keep Indian Grand Prix from running

Campaigners claim F1 race is entertainment, not sport, and should not be exempt from taxes.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber distributes his autographs to fans at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the Indian Grand Prix on Thursday. Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Red Bull driver Mark Webber distributes his autographs to fans at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the Indian Grand Prix on Thursday. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Organisers of the Indian Grand Prix have confirmed that Sunday’s race will go ahead even though the country’s top court has agreed to hear a petition today seeking its cancellation over tax issues.

The supreme court decided to hear the case after the campaigner Amit Kumar accused Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) race promoters of not paying entertainment taxes in full for the 2012 race.

“The race will go on. There’s absolutely no doubt about that,” Vicky Chandhok, who heads the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, said on Thursday.

“This has happened many times before. You’ve had people trying to stop cricket matches … our justice system is pretty strong that no sporting event should be stopped.”

“It’s a civil matter, let it be heard in court as long as it takes and that’s it. No worries,” Chandhok said.

Kumar had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in 2011 arguing Formula One was not sport but entertainment and should not be exempted from entertainment taxes.

The JPSI spokesman Askari Zaidi said that they would adhere to the court order. “A PIL was filed earlier also and whatever the court had asked to do, we did,” he said.

The Indian Grand Prix has been dropped from next year’s calendar, but the promoters are optimistic of a return in 2015.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel said he was relaxed about the prospect of wrapping up his fourth successive world championship in India this weekend.

The Red Bull Racing driver needs only to finish inside the top five to take the title. “It’s looking very good, but we have to focus on the job at hand,” he said.

“For sure, it is nice to have the opportunity to win the title here, but we are not trying to focus on that. We are trying to focus on the race. We want to win the championships; it does not matter where and when.

“Everybody will try hard to do their best, so it is going to be a tough weekend. We have reasons to believe our car will be competitive.”

Red Bull can also win their fourth successive constructors’ title if Ferrari fail to out-score them by 19 points on Sunday.

Vettel said a double coronation would be memorable for the team.

“We have been working hard the whole year,” he said. “We did not come here thinking we have got to do this, or got to do that. We are just trying to get the best out of ourselves. We believe we are good enough to secure the championships. It will be something very, very special for us.”

This is the third Indian Grand Prix. Vettel won the first two.

If the championship is not determined Sunday, Vettel would have another chance to clinch at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix seven days later, on November 3.

sports@thenational.ae