MotoGP Bharat 2023 is here, but why did Buddh International Circuit stop hosting Indian Grand Prix?

Ayaan PaulSeptember 23, 2023 | 08:00 IST

The Buddh International Circuit, nestled near Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, India, was a promising venue for motorsport enthusiasts. Having hosted the Indian Grand Prix, the venue  has had its share of twists, turns, and tax trouble before eventually making a dramatic exit from the Formula 1 calendar. 


Designed by renowned German racetrack designer Hermann Tilke, this 5.125 km circuit was officially inaugurated on October 18, 2011.

Its name, "Buddh", was inspired by Gautam Buddha, in harmony with the Greater Noida district where it stands.

The circuit's claim to fame was as the host of the Formula One Indian Grand Prix, which made its debut in October 2011.

  • However, the Grand Prix's journey was fraught with challenges, leading to its suspension in 2014 and eventual cancellation due to a protracted tax dispute with the Government of Uttar Pradesh during the administration of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

A brief history

The sequence of events leading to the downfall of the Indian Grand Prix began with optimism and high expectations. India, a burgeoning economy with a growing appetite for international sports, seemed like an ideal destination for Formula 1.

  • Plans for a Grand Prix in India had been on the horizon since 1997, but they were stifled by the sport's relative unpopularity and the paucity of permanent racing tracks in the country.
Photo: Getty Images

The prospect of a street circuit in New Delhi was floated by Vijay Mallya in 2007, a year before he went on to own the Force India Formula 1 Team.

  • However, after much deliberation, it was decided that the inaugural Indian Grand Prix would be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, originally scheduled for 2010 but pushed to 2011 due to construction delays.
Photo: Getty Images

The five-year contract between Formula 1 and the Indian government marked a significant milestone, but it wasn't long before clouds of uncertainty began to gather. 

  • Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav viewed Formula 1 more as entertainment than a sport, leading to unfavorable taxation and operational conditions for the event.
  • As a result, the Buddh International Circuit faced financial difficulties and was unable to meet its obligations.


One of the key issues revolved around tax exemptions that were typically granted to sports in India but were not extended to Formula 1. Additionally, customs fees for engines and tires remained unchanged, creating further financial strain. 

  • These factors collectively led to a breakdown in the contract between Formula 1 and the Indian government.

The situation escalated when authorities sealed the Buddh International Circuit due to non-payment of dues.

  • Reports indicated that this action followed the cancellation of the lease agreement, which allowed Jaypee International Sports Company access to 1,000 hectares of land. 
Photo: Getty Images

Both Jaypee International Sports Company and the company responsible for building the track were part of the Jaypee Group, which had acted as promoters for the Formula One race.

  • The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) became involved, locking the gates leading to the circuit and initiating plans for a global tender to recover the outstanding dues from developer Jaypee Infratech Limited. 

The financial conundrum left the Jaypee Group unable to recoup its substantial investment of nearly $450 million, pay fees to Formula 1, and settle tax payments with the government.

Photo: Getty Images

In light of these complications, Formula 1 authorities decided to remove the Indian Grand Prix from their calendar indefinitely. 

The future for the Buddh Circuit

Although there were initial announcements of the sport's return in 2015 (later shifted to 2016), the event never materialised. Instead, Formula 1 introduced new circuits in locations like Las Vegas and Qatar, leaving Indian fans yearning for the return of the Grand Prix.

Despite the challenges that Formula 1 faced in India, there is still hope for a revival. 

Over the past decade, perspectives have evolved, and the current UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, has recognised MotoGP as a sport, indicating a more favourable stance towards motorsport. 

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MotoGP Bharat is rolling into town this weekend at the Buddh Circuit, revving the engines of fans who've been waiting for the roar of motorsports to return to India. Maybe, just maybe, this is the spark needed to reignite the Formula 1 flame in India.

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While Formula 1 has yet to make a comeback to the circuit, the shifting dynamics in India's motorsport landscape offer hope that one day, the roar of Formula 1 engines will once again echo through the Greater Noida circuit.

Photo: Getty Images

We'll keep our helmets on and our engines revving, ready for the day when the Grand Prix returns to the grid at Buddh.

Last updated: September 23, 2023 | 08:00
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