x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mystery surrounds i1 Superseries

Postponement due to elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The i1 Supercars visited Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.
The i1 Supercars visited Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.

ABU DHABI // Yas Marina officials remained in the dark last night regarding the postponement of the inaugural i1 Superseries calendar.

Abu Dhabi was scheduled to host the season-ending event of India's newest race championship on March 10, but the Hindustan Times quoted Darshan M, the series' chief executive, as saying the whole calendar has been postponed due to elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh, home of India's Formula One circuit.

"The Buddh International Circuit has been asked by the district administration not to have any public events close to the dates of polling. As such, we have to postpone our whole calendar since the Indian race is central to the interests of team owners and sponsors," Darshan told the newspaper.

Richard Cregan, the chief executive at Yas Marina Circuit, however, had not been informed of any postponement. "That is the first I have heard," Cregan said. "It would surprise me because when they came over here to launch the series, everything seemed on track."

The penultimate race of the i1 Superseries was scheduled to be held at the circuit on February 25 and 26, but Gautam Buddh Nagar, a largely suburban district of Uttar Pradesh and home of the Buddh racetrack, will hold elections on February 28. Darshan said a rescheduled Indian race would hopefully take place in late March.

By postponing for one month, the series faces a number of new obstacles.

The basis of the championship was to host a five-race calendar during the motorsport off-season and announcements had been made regarding the involvement of F1 drivers Karun Chandhok and Vitantonio Liuzzi, as well as a number of other prominent drivers such as Jacques Villeneuve and Giancarlo Fischella. Many confirmed drivers would be unable to commit to racing in Asia during the months of March and April.

Likewise, television revenues could suffer as the series would find itself fighting for viewers alongside Indian Premier League cricket and Formula One.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae