Lewis Hamilton got brickbats for speaking his mind about having to race in India. All he said was “It felt strange driving past homeless people and then arrive in a huge arena where money was not an issue. The money spent on building a race track could have been spent on building schools and homes”. What Lewis said was right. It would look like a foot out of joint if countries like Afghanistan or Somalia had a Grand Prix!
These sports are a natural leg-up and an extension to the autobahns and super express highways, where superbikes and cars are at home doing speeds over 200 Kmph. India is still struggling with Bijli, Paani and Sadak in every election campaign. Until and unless we get past the basics, Formula One should only be on television.
When it comes to motorsports, factors such as affordability, infrastructure, fuel prices, stringent road rules, well-paying jobs, educated population, among other things that must also be contemplated. India is a fuel-thirsty country where the emphasis is more on per litre average (Kitna deti hai?) rather than power and performance. We are just beginning to build expressways, and things will have to wait. India is just not there yet.
Jaypee burnt its fingers after spending crores in building an international standard race track, which is not on the international calendar for the past few years, no surprises there. Our country has not graduated beyond kabaddi, cricket, and hockey. Soccer is yet to take off and is played in a big way only in select Northeast states and perhaps West Bengal and Goa. Badminton took a while to catch up too, with a host of Indian players at International tournaments, and tennis is struggling with select few players barely making it to little beyond qualifying rounds in international circuits like Australian Open, French Open, US Open etc.
In India, it would take decades for motorsports to catch the imagination of young minds and establish itself in a big way, with sponsors lining up for prime time broadcast. Our present prime time has more takers for tearjerkers like Saas-Bahu dramas, “KBC”, “Indian Idol”, crass comedy shows and the likes, but who will want to sponsor motorsports?