top of page


Updated: Oct 18, 2023

*Written by Kruthi Ravikumar


Motorsport or simply called as “racing” stands tall as one of the most popular international sporting events, bringing together fans, drivers and teams in a thrilling fusion of adrenaline, technology , skill and passion. Motorsport stretches to a diverse range of racing categories, including MotoGP, Formula1, Rally racing, Formula E, NASCAR, Formula Extreme etc. Motorsport today represents not only a spectacular spectacle but also a dynamic arena for engineering advancement, global competition, and the celebration of speed and precision.

While India may not be a prominent player in the International Motorsport Scene, in the recent past has seen a boost in interest from stakeholders to the audience. However, with motorsport being an expensive market with limited opportunities, it has been a slow growth.

History And the Journey to The Formation of the FMSCI

Motorsport in India can be traced back to as early as 1904. The All-Indian Highway Motor Rally in 1970 based on the Monte Carlo Rally was one of the first Indian Races to be sanctioned by Federation Internationale De I ‘Automobile (FIA). The Himalayan Car Rally in 1980 was a landmark event in the Indian Motorsports History, also given the title of one of the toughest races.

In the 1970’s, the Madras Motor Sports Club, Bangalore Motorsports Club (Karnataka Motor Sports Club) joined hands together to form the Federation of Motor Sports Club of India (FMSCI), India’s first national governing body for auto racing and rallying in the country. Fifteen years after its inception, the FMSCI gained recognition from the Government of India as the only authorised authority to perform all activities relating to control and conduct of motor sporting events in India. It is recognised by the Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as the sole National Sports Federation for the governance and furtherance of Motor sports in India. It is also a member of the FIA.[1]

Functions of FMSCI

  • Drafting of technical/sporting rules and regulations for various motorsports governed by the FMSCI.

  • Training of technical and sporting officials to ensure fair, safe, and orderly conduct of the moto sporting events.

  • Giving Importance to grass root level motorsports and promote them.

  • Develop the motor sporting in India to match the International Standards

  • Issue of competition licenses and organizing permits to clubs to organize motor sporting events.

  • Dispute redressal via the Indian Motor Sports Appeal Court (IMSAC) comprising competent persons with legal and sporting background. [2]

To get a better understanding of Motorsport in India, let’s look at the two most popular formats – Moto GP and Formula 1

Formula 1

Formula 1, the most loved Motorsporting race in the world, set foot in India in 2011. India hosted the Indian Grand prix 3 times in the following years – 2011, 2012 and 2013, all of them were held in the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. The Circuit was custom built for Formula 1, designed by Hermann Tilke. The 2011 race witnessed India make their Formula one racing debut. India All three of the races were won by Sebastian Vettel racing for RedBull .

The Indian Grand Prix was a success in terms of the viewership and popularity it garnered worldwide, over 95,000 people attended the first race. This also demonstrated India’s keen interest in Racing. This enthusiasm was reflected in sponsorship, with notable sponsors including Airtel, Jaypee Group, and Mercedes-Benz.

Indian drivers – Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok have also been instrumental in raising the sport’s profile within the country, furthering Indian fans interest in F1.

The departure of Formula 1 from India was met with disappointment among racing fans who had embraced the sport's glamour and adrenaline rush. The hiatus from the Indian Grand Prix has been attributed to a combination of factors, including taxation concerns, bureaucratic red tape, and financial difficulties faced by the organizers. These challenges made it increasingly unsustainable to continue hosting the event. Nevertheless, Formula 1's legacy in India endures. It ignited a passion for motorsport, prompting the rise of local racing talents and grassroots racing initiatives.

Moto GP

The early 2010’s saw a glimmer of hope for the international motorsport scene in India with the inauguration of the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. As stated above F1 left India as fast as it entered in 2013.

After exactly a decade we witnessed the ending of the dry spell on the Buddh International Circuit with MotoGP (Indian Oil Grand Prix of India 2023) which was held this September from the 22nd to the 24th, an international series which is F1’s two wheeled equivalent. The Grand Prix was held as the 16th race in its calendar. A partnership between the Indian corporation Fairstreet Sports and Dorna, the primary organizer of MotoGP and overseen by the FMSCI, allowed the event to take off.

With over 100,000 enthusiastic spectators from India and around the world and a global telecast in 195 countries, the Grand Prix of India's inaugural edition set new standards in motorsport history and proudly signalled India's entry into the world of Motorsports.[3]

The Italian rider Marco Bezzecchi made a lasting impression on the race with a solid pole position for VR46, which was applauded by a passionate and energized crowd across the MGS and other stands as well as more than a million spectators around the world. The event witnessed close to 15000 foreign enthusiasts of the sport along with over 100 of the world’s renowned auto journalists, all of whom had positive things to say about the event, bringing the Indian Moto GP scene to the global motor racing scene.

Owing to the success of the first MotoGP Bharat, the sport's governing body International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has revealed that MotoGP will make a comeback to India in 2024. (Race weekend has been scheduled from September 20th to September 22nd of 2024).

Challenges At the Starting Line: India's Hurdles in Hosting Formula 1 And Moto Gp

India's potential as a host for prestigious motorsport events like Formula 1 and MotoGP has been a subject of debate and disappointment over the years. While the country has a fervent fan base and a growing interest in motorsport, several issues have hindered its ability to consistently host these world-class events. This account delves into the key challenges faced by India in hosting Formula 1 and MotoGP events.

1. Infrastructure

The Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida was the venue for the Indian Grand Prix in Formula 1 from 2011 to 2013. While it received praise for its challenging track layout, the lack of year-round usage and maintenance led to concerns about the circuit's readiness for international events. [4]

2. Financial Viability:

Formula 1 and MotoGP events are subject to heavy taxation in India, which has been a significant deterrent for organizers. High import duties on equipment, along with entertainment taxes, make hosting such events financially burdensome. This led to increased costs for both organizers and spectators, affecting the overall appeal of these events.

3. Global Competition:

Competing with Established Markets: India faces stiff competition from countries with well-established motorsport traditions and stronger financial backing. This makes it challenging for India to secure a permanent spot on the Formula 1 and MotoGP calendars.

4. Bureaucratic Hurdles:

Government Approvals: The process of obtaining government approvals and clearances for motorsport events in India can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Organizers often face delays in securing necessary permits, which impacts event planning and execution.

5. Cultural barriers and limited grass root development

With cricket being treated close to a religion in India and leagues like IPL which are massive fan following the country ogling majority interest of viewers and not having any prominent Indian present in F1 has also led to a negative impact on the sport. [5] : Unlike countries with strong motorsport traditions, India has struggled to establish robust grassroots racing programs. The absence of a well-defined pathway for young talent to progress through the ranks has hindered the development of local racers who could potentially compete on the global stage.

The Hamilton Commission Report and its Relevance in India

The Hamilton Commission, established by British racing driver Sir Lewis Hamilton, 7-time Formula 1 Driver’s World Champion. The report highlighting the need for greater representation and opportunities for underrepresented groups. Hamilton’s effort to increase representation and opportunities for underrepresented communities in motorsport resonate globally.

Even though its primary focus is on diversity and inclusion within motorsport in the United Kingdom, we can also learn from it in India, where motorsport has been growing steadily but still faces challenges in terms of inclusivity, the Hamilton Commission serves as an inspiration and a reminder of the importance of diversity in sports. It encourages conversations and initiatives aimed at making motorsport more accessible to a broader range of individuals, thus potentially fostering greater interest and participation in motorsport across the country. While its direct impact in India may be limited, the Hamilton Commission's global message of inclusivity and diversity in motorsport has undoubtedly left a positive mark and serves as a catalyst for change within the Indian motorsport community.


In conclusion, India's ability to host Formula 1 and MotoGP events has been marred by a range of challenges, including infrastructure upkeep, financial hurdles, bureaucratic obstacles, and limited grassroots development. While the country boasts a passionate fan base and potential for motorsport growth, addressing these issues and creating a more conducive environment for motorsport is essential to attract top-tier racing events in the future. Collaboration between government bodies, private organizers, and corporate sponsors will be crucial in revitalizing India's presence on the global motorsport stage.

We can already witness a positive future for Racing in India with the success of MotoGP (Indian Oil Grand Prix of India 2023) has led to not only the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) has revealed that MotoGP will make a comeback to India in 2024, but enthusiasm to revive the Formula 1 also can be witnessed. The CEO of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority has confirmed that efforts are underway and discussions with Formula 1 organisers are underway to bring back Formula 1 to India in 2025.

*The author is a legal scholar from India

(The image used here is for representative purposes only)


[1] FMSCI, history, [2]FMSCI, about us, [3]Jonathan Hawkins ,CNN, India gears up for its debut MotoGP race, (September 27, 2023 , 12:23 PM ) [4] Kushan Mitra, The Print, Buddh International Circuit is India’s white elephant. The future of motorsport looks bleak , (November 23, 2022,11:45 IST) [5]Times of India , Shame that interest in motorsport has drastically gone down in India: Karun Chandok , (Jul 29, 2023, 16:05 IST)


bottom of page