In his latest interview with the Times of India, former F1 driver Narain karthikeyan criticised the lack of initiative from the Indian administration to develop the sport in the country. This comes after F1 CEO and president Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that the Indian Grand Prix will not take place in 2015.
Karthikeyan said, “I knew this was coming. Apart from the Jaypee Group, no one was really trying to bring the sport back to India. You cannot develop a sport with this kind of sluggish support.”
“First they said that it will be staged in 2015 and now they are saying it has been pushed back to 2016. There is no certainty even that will happen.”
Ecclestone cited two main reasons for not returning to the country, the first being the complex tax structure, and the second being the bureaucratic hurdles involved in logistics.
The sport, being a bit of an infant in India, was sure to pose several challenges in the early run, but Karthikeyan says that the authorities could have been more pro-active.
“F1 is an elitist sport. But it has a huge fan following in India, especially in states like Kerala. But the fans need to be educated more about this sport so that they can enjoy it in the right spirit. But sadly I have not seen any effort from the authorities to popularize it,” he said.
The Coimbatore racer also hinted at the lack of infrastructure for young F1 aspirants in India.
“We have many karting circuits which can be considered as the foundation for Formula One. But given the poor infrastructure we have, the only way you can become a better driver is to get out of the country and experience what real motorsports is all about,” he lamented.
Karthikeyan also said that an Indian’s road to the highest level is laden with hardships every step of the way.
“I was lucky enough to find a sponsor in the early stages of my career but it won’t be the same for the upcoming talents from India.” he said.
“They will find it extremely difficult to meet the expenses without a proper sponsor,” he added.
The former F1 driver has been signed up by the Team Impul Hoshino Racing of the Super Formula Japan for the 2014 season, and he said he was looking forward to it.
“I’m really excited about the series. With a new chassis and turbocharged powertrains this year, the Super Formula races could be really challenging,” he said.
He also expressed his opinion about the upcoming F1 season, suggesting that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel could have a tough campaign this time around.
“In F1, performance of a car has greater importance than that of a driver. Red Bull have not done that well during the pre-season tests and it will be hard for Vettel to repeat what he has been doing for the past four years,” he said.Published 10 Mar 2014, 13:20 IST