JANUARY 26, 2004
Competition for Hyderabad
The negotiation process for a future Grand Prix in India is now developing quickly with the Formula One group sending representatives to Mumbai (Bombay) to talk to the local government there as the state of Maharashtra has expressed an interest in hosting the race. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra Sushil Kumar Shinde has confirmed the meeting and is pushing hard to oust Hyderabad as the site for the race.
The Mumbai bid is supported by prominent national politician Sharad Pawar, who comes from Maharashtra and was chief minister of the state between 1978 and 1980. He was elected to the Indian parliament in 1984 and in 1991 became the country's Minister of Defence. He returned to Maharashtra in 1993 for another term as chief minister before being returned to parliament in 1995 after which he became a leading member of the Congress Party and in 1998 the leader of the opposition.
The bid is also supported by the Motorsports Association of India, which is headed by Nazir Hoosein, a favourite at the FIA.
The plan is for Mumbai to build a track between the cities of Mumbai and Pune, both of which are currently building airports.
Mumbai also has plans to host a round of the World Rally Championship in the future, based on the India Rally, a round FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship which was held for the first time in December 2003.
"The fact that Mumbai is the financial capital of India and is a major contributor both of corporate and individual direct taxes in India, will contribute in no small measure to the selection of the Formula 1 circuit to Maharashtra," Hoosein says.
The organisers say that the infrastructure requirements for accommodation, road transport and communication are already in place for F1.
The government of Hyderabad is still in negotiation with FOM and it may be that the sudden appearance of a serious bid from Mumbai is only a way to get a better deal from the Hyderbad authorities. It would not be the first time that FOM has used such tactics and there is no doubt that Hyderabad is worried about a bid from another city.
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