Indian Grand Prix Faces Legal Challenge | Edmunds

Indian Grand Prix Faces Legal Challenge

Just the Facts:
  • The Indian Supreme Court will hear a petition against the Indian Grand Prix Friday that is seeking to cancel the race.
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel is expected to seal the world title in Sunday's race.
  • The complaint alleges that Buddh International Circuit has not paid taxes that are due.

NEW DELHI, India — The Supreme Court of India will hear a petition Friday asking for cancellation of this weekend's Indian Grand Prix. Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel is expected to seal the world title in Sunday's race, making it one of the most high-profile events of the season, barring any legal action.

Practice for the race is scheduled to begin the same day the court considers the petition. Qualifying is set for Saturday.

The legal action is grabbing headlines around the world and is yet another stumbling block for Formula 1 in India, which has been beset by problems since the inaugural 2011 event.

The petition was filed by Amit Kumar, who protested the tax status granted to the Formula 1 race when it was originally granted. The basis for the complaint is that the auto-racing event is entertainment rather than sport, and therefore is not eligible for tax breaks granted to sporting events.

The first Indian GP was held at the newly constructed $450-million Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi, in 2011. The event, which capped a 10-year effort by organizers to land an F1 event, attracted more than 95,000 spectators and was deemed an all-around success.

In response to the original legal challenge by Kumar, the Supreme Court ordered administrators of the event to freeze 25 percent of ticket revenues until the tax dispute is resolved.

The Indian round is absent from the 2014 calendar for Formula 1, a consequence of the uncertainty of its status.

"I think brand India is getting affected," Indian driver Karun Chandhok told the Press Trust of India news agency. "People should not underestimate the power of F1 and power of sport."

Sebastian Vettel has won both previous runnings of the event and has led every lap of both events.

Edmunds says: Anything that involves as much money as the staging of an F1 event is a prime target for critics and tax-related litigation. But this mess leaves the future of an Indian GP in 2015 up in the air.

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