At the sidelines of India’s first-ever Formula E race, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem expressed that the combination of hosting prestigious racing events like Formula 1 and an ample amount of work at the grassroots is what India needs to resuscitate motorsport in the country.
Sulayem, the first non-European president of car racing’s world governing body, spoke on multiple issues including his plans for a big market like India, women in motorsport, and the urgent need to make the sport more accessible.
Ben Sulayem, a former rally driver from the UAE stated,
“In my manifesto (ahead of his election in December 2021) I had mentioned how important India is. Not because I am here, not because I am the president,”
“That is why planning for motorsport is very important because you don’t want investment which goes into the racing (to be wasted). The infrastructure has to be utilized by the Indians.
“Also. You had Formula 1, you had F1 drivers (two in total), and now (Formula E). But what does it show? It shows that sustaining it is the other challenge,”
India last hosted a Formula 1 race in 2013. The Grand Prix caused much controversy, with drivers openly claiming that a developing country was not the right place to host a big event like an F1 race. Recently held Formula E in India is the first World Championship status race in 10 years in the country.
The 61-year-old, Ben Sulayem, said he would push for more races, including Formula 1, to come to India, but work at ground level was just as important.
“I am pushing for more events in India and affordable vehicles and we passed that already in the FIA general assembly. We have a new identity for karting and cross cars.” Can Formula 1 return to India in the near future? “Of course, it can come back… The opportunity is there and I have to break these barriers to ensure it happens. The FIA is for all the members,”