The 15 drivers who have registered for the MRF Formula Championship 2011 were each assigned a car through lots drawn by Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir, at a function here on Thursday.

The participants include five foreigners — three from Great Britain and two from Finland — and ten Indians. The last date for registration is January 29. The event kicks off with the first six races slated to take place at Madras Motor Race Track over two weekends (February 5/6, and 12/13), followed by another two races at Jaypee International Circuit in Greater Noida, during the country's first Formula One race on October 30.

“The Chennai races are titled MRF Formula Championship 2011. The Greater Noida leg is titled ‘Delhi Championship with MRF', and this will be the official support race for the Formula One race,” said Arun Mammen, Managing Director, MRF.

Assess infrastructure

Vicky Chandhok, president, Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, said, the Chennai races would help teams assess the infrastructure as well as their driver's performance. Those who perform will then have an option to apply for an international competition license, which is mandatory for participation in the Delhi championship.

“To encourage more young people into considering racing a career option, we've brought down the minimum age limit to 14 years. We are ensuring an impartial process by which the cars will be equal in all respects; even the service crews will be rotated each weekend to ensure fairness,” he said.

MRF brand ambassador and Indian opener Gambhir, who is recovering from a ‘soft tissue' injury, spent the session fending off ‘cricket questions', of which he was allowed just three.

Gambhir excited

“I am shaping up well and hope to start batting practice in another few days. Obviously, I am excited that I'll be playing in my first World Cup,” he said.

On India's chances in the premier event, Gambhir said the confidence the team had acquired on the tour to South Africa would stand it in good stead. “South Africa is a completely different ballgame from Indian conditions. But we had a very good series, and if we can continue that form into the World Cup, with home conditions and crowd support, I'm sure we'll do well,” he said.

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