New Delhi, Monday: The Indian government has undertaken a hasty U-turn on its proclamation last week that Formula One is not a sport, declaring that they were “wrong” and paving the way towards an Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

Sporty: Indias only F1 team
Sporty: India's only F1 team

The government has denied that this sudden change of heart has anything to do with the recent upturn in fortunes of the Force India team, which claims to represent the country. Force India scored their first pole position on Saturday, courtesy of Giancarlo Fisichella, with the Italian also securing the team’s first points by finishing second behind the cheating Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

“While we obviously welcome the excellent sporting achievements of our sports teams in this activity, which is quite clearly a sport,” a spokesman for the Indian sports ministry said, “We insist that the timing of this announcement is coincidence and nothing more.

“India has plenty to celebrate in sport,” he continued. “Just look at the recent Twenty20 cricket world cup.

“Actually, don’t,” he admitted, after it was pointed out that the tournament was won by neighbours Pakistan, while India faltered in the second group stage. “But anyway, it’s just a coincidence. As are the recent questions over whether Twenty20 cricket should be considered a sport or not. Okay?”

As an emerging market, India is high on the list of target destinations for future Formula One venues. So far proposed Indian Grand Prix plans appear to have stalled, though organisers are confident of having the first race on the subcontinent ready for 2011.

“An Indian team, an Indian race – now all we need is an Indian driver to fully immerse ourselves in this most sport-like of all sports,” the spokesman said, at which point Narain Karthikeyan was observed quietly protesting in the background. He was, however, ignored.