The arrival of Bernie Ecclestone, the Chief Executive Officer of Formula One, and the announcement of Airtel as the title sponsor for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, strengthened the case for the race to be run as scheduled on the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida on October 30.
The delay in homologation of the circuit by nearly a month, to September 1, against the stipulated norm of 90 days before the race, had created doubts about everything being ready on time for the Indian race. In fact, when F-1 toyed with the idea of rescheduling the Bahrain race, that eventually proved abortive, the Indian event was supposed to get a December date.
Dismissing the doubts, Ecclestone said that experts were monitoring the progress at the site on a daily basis and everything was satisfactory.
“We have got people here checking on a daily basis. There are no problems'', Ecclestone remarked, as he addressed the media along with the CEO of Airtel, Sanjay Kapoor, here on Thursday.
The F1 supremo, Ecclestone said that the Indian Grand Prix would capture the imagination of the Indian youth, and assured that the circuit would be one of the best.
“It will take two or three years for F-1 to catch up in India. It will not match cricket, but we will try to get very close'', said Ecclestone.
Stating that Airtel was confident of bagging the title sponsorship when the negotiation had started a few months ago, CEO Sanjay Kapoor was categorical in saying that it was important for his organisation to take the lead and be associated with F-1 at this stage.
Lauding the deal, Ecclestone said that in many countries it was the government that sponsored the title, and it was an impressive initiative by Airtel in India. It was mentioned that the tenure of the deal was “for ever,'' at the moment.
Refusing to divulge the facts of the financial deal, the Airtel CEO said that it was definitely value for money.
He said that the event would benefit the nation as a whole, and not just the sponsors and people associated with it.
On his part Ecclestone was quite candid in admitting that India was one of the top five countries in the world and it was an important step for F-1 to be in India. “I hope, in the end, it will do good for India.''
When queried about the possibilities of a break-away series by disgruntled teams, Ecclestone remarked that the teams had been discussing such a move for 30 odd years, and in the end they knew that it would not happen.