Formula E cancels race in Hyderabad

The Formula E India race launched on the streets of Hyderabad last year will not have a second season. After uncertainty lasting a few months, Formula E announced on Saturday that it had cancelled the February 10 race, over alleged “breach of contract” by the Telangana government.

Drivers steer their cars during a trial race for the FIA Formula E World Championship, in Hyderabad.(PTI)

“We are extremely disappointed for the huge motorsport fanbase in India. We know that hosting an official motorsport world championship race is an important and prestigious occasion for Hyderabad and the whole country,” Formula E co-founder Alberto Longo said in a statement.

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“The President of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), Akbar Ebrahim, and his team have been incredibly supportive in bringing Formula E back to Hyderabad. They share our disappointment in the decision of the Government of Telangana which means that will not happen.”

“The cancellation comes following a decision by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department (MAUD), under the control of the Government of Telangana, not to fulfil the Host City Agreement,” a Formula E statement said. “Formula E Operations (FEO) has been left with no choice other than to formally give notice to MAUD that it is in breach of contract. FEO is considering its position and what steps it may take under the Host City Agreement and applicable laws.”

Hyderabad hosted the first race in India on February 11 last year after the world’s first electric FIA World Championship signed a four-year deal with the Telangana government and promoters Ace Nxt Gen. KT Rama Rao, IT minister in the Bharat Rashtra Samithi government, played a key role it coming to fruition.

The race went ahead, though it wasn’t without problems. 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 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 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 do not seem to have made progress.

The development mirrors the unceremonious exit of Formula 1 from India after three races (2011 to 2013) due to tax, bureaucratic and financial hassles. Formula E was the first global motorsport event in India since then. Greater Noida’s Buddh International Circuit (BIC), the F1 venue, hosted the inaugural MotoGP race last September.

“This is truly a poor and regressive decision by the Congress government. Events like Hyderabad E-Prix enhance the brand image of our city and country across the world. We had put in a lot of effort and time to bring Formula E-Prix for the first time to India,” Rama Rao, currently BRS working president, tweeted.

“In a world where sustainability has become the focus and buzzword, KCR Govt had taken the initiative to use the Formula E race as an occasion to also conduct a weeklong EV Summit attracting EV enthusiasts, manufacturers and startups to showcase Hyderabad as an attractive investment destination. We had also launched the Telangana Mobility Valley to promote the state as the epicentre for sustainable mobility solutions.”

The F1 Indian Grand Prix completed only three editions of a five-race deal and Formula E had signed a four-year deal. While this year’s India leg is ruled out, the race can return if a deal is struck with the Telangana government or any other state that is keen to stage it.

“It is deeply frustrating that we cannot build on the success of the inaugural race last year, which delivered almost $84 million in positive economic impact to the region. We are also disappointed for our major Indian partners, particularly Mahindra and Tata Communications. Racing in Hyderabad was important to showcase the benefits of adopting electric vehicles in a market where pollution from vehicle engines has a massive impact on public health and the environment,” Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds said.

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). India’s Jehan Daruvala will drive for Maserati this season. “Really disappointed. Was looking forward to my home race,” said the 25-year-old.

The 10th season begins on January 13 in Mexico City.

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