The administration of Gautam Buddh Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh has decided to make use of India’s only international F1 racing circuit – The Buddh International Circuit (BIC). This piece of prime and expensive property will be put to good use as a quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients. India is going through the global pandemic of COVID-19 and is preparing itself for any unforeseen outbreaks for he future. This decision comes after millions of labourers tried to return to UP and Bihar states from Delhi soon after the the central govt. ordered a nationwide lockdown. The borders being sealed, these labourers had nowhere to go and the govt. is thus, reaching out with a helping hand.
The authority will take care of all the food and health requirements of the occupants up until April 14th, 2020, the end of the nationwide lockdown. A YEIDA official has said that they are working on finding out how many people can be kept at this facility and will be taken care of very soon.
The Buddh track is a part of a much larger Jaypee sports city in Greater Noida. Very recently, the authorities had sealed the premises of this racetrack along with the Sports city as the owners had failed to clear unpaid dues amounting to over ₹ 600 crore owed to them. This will be one of around 20 facilities all over the district which the administration aims to use as a shelter cum quarantine facility for the migrants during this lockdown period.
The BIC had organised races in the F1 calender for just 3 years i.e. 2011, 2012 and 2013. All three were won by Sebastian Vettel who was a RedBull racing driver back then. The reasons behind this track being shut off from the F1 calender were tax disputes with the UP govt. The government had claimed that the sporting event was purely an entertainment program and was bringing no substantial sport value for India. Hence, it was taxed under entertainment programs which was quite a higher tax call. Moreover, the drivers weren’t very keen either as we had soon after heard Lewis Hamilton say that it was hard to race in an expensive sport when you’d see people on the streets and slums. It wasn’t making sense morally.
Interestingly, India has not been keen in F1 and we haven’t had any significant or winning drivers for the sport as well. India’s recent attention on various other sports apart from Cricket is a rekindled fire that might light up F1 as well. On the driver front, a recent accomplishment from Jehan Daruvala of Redbull’s junior program raised a lot of eyeballs when he set the fastest times in F2 on his first day of driving the F2 car. We really can’t wait for this young racer to come up to F1 and be at the front row representing India!