Challenging for us to return to India in 2025: Formula E CEO - Hindustan Times
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Challenging for us to return to India in 2025: Formula E CEO

Apr 26, 2024 10:16 PM IST

Formula E debuted in India with much fanfare in February 2023 with the Hyderabad E-Prix, but the series announced in January that it had cancelled the 2024 race

Indian motorsport enthusiasts were hopeful of Formula E returning to India next year after the 2024 Hyderabad E-Prix was cancelled but CEO of the electric car racing series Jeff Dodds said that the chances of a race in 2025 are unlikely.

Jay Penske celebrates on podium during the Hyderabad E-Prix last year(Getty)
Jay Penske celebrates on podium during the Hyderabad E-Prix last year(Getty)

"It's very realistic that Formula E returns to India because we've got live conversations with various locations. It's a core market for us, we'd love to race there, but it would be challenging for us to return next year, simply given the time available to find a location, agree on a circuit, its layout, start to build awareness around it. For Season 11, it's not impossible, but it is unlikely. But definitely not unlikely that we'll return,” Dodds said over a video call from Monaco.

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Formula E debuted in India with much fanfare in February 2023 with the Hyderabad E-Prix, but the series announced in January that it had cancelled the race this year over alleged "breach of contract" by the Telangana government.

The FIA World Championship had signed a four-year deal with the previous Telangana government and promoters Ace Nxt Gen with KT Rama Rao, former IT minister in the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government playing a key role in it coming to fruition.

The race went ahead, though it wasn’t without problems as construction work, facilities and arrangements were completed just before the event and many drivers were left complaining. Formula E officials had played down the issues, putting it down to pangs of a first race.

Doubts over the second edition grew when Hyderabad wasn’t included in the provisional 2024 calendar with Formula E officials saying that the hosting fees were not paid on time. The race though made the cut in the final calendar unveiled in October 2023 with the Telangana government signing the Host City Agreement.

The support of local authorities is vital for Formula E which, unlike racing series held on purpose-built tracks, is run on city street circuits. Problems arose when title sponsor Greenko and Ace Nxt Gen pulled out of the event and BRS then lost the assembly elections in December and Congress came to power. Discussions between Formula E and the new government did not progress.

Asked if Formula had taken any legal recourse, Dodds denied talking about it. But Dodds, who took over the role of CEO in May 2023, confirmed that they are in talks with other Indian cities if the Hyderabad race doesn’t take place again.

"There's lots of choices for us to go to. There are a number of cities we're talking to. We would look at whether we would prefer to build a street circuit in a city in India or whether there's an existing circuit we think works well for our race cars and series, we would consider it," said Dodds, not ruling out racing on a purpose-built circuit in India.

Indian involvement

There is big Indian involvement in Formula E. Mahindra is the only Indian manufacturer in the electric racing championship while Jaguar Racing, though a British brand, is a subsidiary of Tata Motors and is sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Indian driver Jehan Daruvala drives for Maserati.

“India is and remains a key market for us. If I talk to our manufacturer partners about their key markets, inevitably they talk about the biggest population markets in the world like China, North America and India. There's also an Indian flavor to our championship so to not be able to race there this season was very disappointing," said Dodds during the launch of the Gen3 Evo car.

“We continue to explore locations in India. Whether we can do that quickly enough for Season 11, I don't know, but certainly for the future. We would love to see a return to Formula E in India. We're very keen to return.”

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