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Formula E

Last-minute race cancellation 'heartbreaking' – Jaguar boss

Jaguar TCS Racing Team Principal James Barclay has reflected on the huge loss of the Hyderabad E-Prix.

Hyderabad - 2023
To news overview © Sam Bloxham / Formula E

A fortnight ago, Formula E should've been in India for the second time in the championship's history. If it weren't for the event's cancellation, the Hyderabad E-Prix would've taken place a fortnight ago (February 10).

The inaugural race in Hyderabad was a wild affair, with general traffic having somehow entered the circuit ahead of Free Practice 1. There were teething problems, but the event itself was spectacular. Jean-Eric Vergne won after a defensive masterclass, whilst ex-Jaguar TCS Racing driver Sam Bird took out teammate Mitch Evans.

Following the excitement of last season's race – the first FIA world championship race in India since F1 visited Delhi in 2013 – there was a real buzz over the sport returning to Hyderabad this year. However, six weeks ahead of the event, it was announced by Formula E that the race had been cancelled.

Formula E alleged that the new Telangana government had breached their "Host City Agreement signed on 30 October 2023" resulting in the event being cancelled. The signed agreement was a four-year deal.

The timing of the cancellation was unfortunate, as Season 10 had been hailed as the biggest in the sport's history with 17 races. Another problem was that the lateness of the cancellation meant finding a replacement simply wasn't doable. No Hyderabad is a bitter blow for Formula E, who did all they could to try and make the event happen.

Hyderabad being cancelled is also hugely disappointing for the Indian motorsport fanbase, Mahindra and rookie Jehan Daruvala. Jaguar have also lost out, with the event being a second home race for them, through title partner TCS and their partnership with the Tata ecosystem.

Given it's a home race away from home for the factory Jaguar fold, RacingNews365 asked Team Principal James Barclay how the team feel over Hyderabad's cancellation.

'I really feel for Formula E'

"I'll be honest to say, obviously, real disappointment we can't be back in Hyderabad," Barclay said. "On a number of counts, as you say, it's almost an equal home race for us. We are a proud part of the Tata ecosystem, and we also have TCS, the title partner.

"So, for us, an important market for lots of reasons. I also think as a motorsport, really a kind of passionate motorsport kind of fan base, to have an international world championship again in India was a real kind of coup.

"And I really feel for Formula E, the amount of hard work that goes into creating a route, doing all the infrastructure work, and all the civil works to create a circuit is a huge feat. I mean, just a massive operation, the miles of cabling, the months of planning, the safety approvals, it's just heartbreaking to think we've been there for one year, and we couldn't go back.

"But my first feeling goes to Alberto [Longo] and the team who do a huge amount of work to get that track kind of set up. So yeah, unfortunately, this one is what it is, it's outside of their control. And I think that the important piece is there's a real desire, however, to get back to racing in India, if we can.

"So I know that the Formula E team are looking at that and looking at what options exist to get back to India, and I hope we can do soon. So yeah, a real shame, a race which we would love to have gone and done well, that's in front of a really important group of stakeholders for us.

"But listen, at the end of the day we're a world championship. There's many other fantastic races on the calendar this year. But I do feel for the team that worked really hard to make that event happen, and we were fully planning on the event happening this year.

"Like I said, the energy to get back to India is high, though. So I'm sure we're all working together to try and make that happen."

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