CHENNAI: Formula One may not have taken roots in the country, but India has all that is required to host a round of the World Rally Championships, if FIA supremo Jean Todt is to be believed.
The former Ferrari team principal was in the city on Tuesday, as part of his country-wide tour to promote Road Safety Awareness. “It is sad that there is not a World Rally Championship round in India. It is a very big country. And contrary to road safety, it is good to have bad roads for rallying. India has the potential to host an international rally,” he said while refusing to confirm whether talks had been held to bring WRC to the country. India will host a round of the 2015 FIA Asia Cup rallying with Coffee Day Rally in Chikmagalur.
Todt believes that India needs local heroes for motor racing to become more established in the country and added that he would be delighted to see the Indian Grand Prix reinstated. “For example, Force India came from nowhere and became a competitive team. To create interest, you need to have local heroes. If all the top cricket players were from Europe, I don’t think it would be so popular in India.”
“As for the Indian Grand Prix, It is not the responsibility of the FIA. The organisers and local authorities have to reach an agreement with the commercial rights owner. The FIA’s role is to approve the calendar and I would be delighted to approve a calendar with the Indian Grand Prix on it,” he added.
The 69-year-old Frenchman had unsuccessfully tried to introduce budget caps for F1 teams. “Formula One is too expensive. Budget caps are difficult because of the different nature of teams. Some are happy, because for them, it is a matter of how best to be competitive. It is not a matter of money. But we are still working on it. We do strongly feel that Formula One should cost less money.”
Todt added that despite all the improvement that had been made, the serious crashes suffered by Jules Bianchi and Fernando Alonso showed that racing was still a dangerous game. “I would say it’s a miracle that we don’t have more serious accidents. But it has happened. In 2009, we had Felipe Massa. But every single day, we are trying to make F1 safer.”