Spectacular F1 Will Showcase Of Best Of India
Organisers of the inaugural Formula One in the country could not have asked for better kick start to its promotional campaign as they got leading global telecommunications giant Bharti Airtel to be the major event sponsor and giving them further boost was F1supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s response that every thing is in place for the October 30 race to be held at Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater NOIDA. Interestingly Bharti Airtel’s sponsorship came amid reports that company had opted to go for F1 rather than the hyped Champions League Twenty20 that ends just about three weeks before the Indian Grand Prix.
F1 will be the second big international sporting event in the country after the Cricket World Cup early this year but it will have much bigger world audience than it or the Commonwealth Games held here last year.
“F1 is new to India. It would take efforts to generate interest. We will never catch cricket but we can get close to…perhaps with extra effort,” was how Ecclestone summed it up and his views were shared by Karun Chandok who said: “I believe there is a big enough audience and I was told 27 million viewers watch Formula One on ESS (ESPN-STAR Sports) and if you get 0.5 per cent of that, that’s over 120,000 people.” Similarly, Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) said: “The 5.14-km track would be one of the fastest circuits in the world and would encourage overtaking.” He furthered: “I have been to every single racetrack in the world. It’s going to be one of the fastest circuits in the world, 1.2 km straight and three corners that have now been redefined. They are following the new FIA guidelines to encourage overtaking. I think it’s going to be phenomenal. There will be lot of scope of overtaking.” On their part ace Indian drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok were confident that F1 will be such a spectacle that the fans will cherish it for a long time. They were optimistic that there would be a full house for the race at the 120,000-capacity circuit on the outskirts of Delhi and described BIC as a tremendous facility saying: “It will be challenging for drivers. There are a lot of overtaking opportunities and long straights… Spectators can see the speed of an F1 car, which would go up to 320 km per hour. It will be a huge spectacle and it will benefit the future generations.”
Karthikeyan, who started his career as a professional drive almost two decades ago, was more emotional in his response saying: “For me it is a dream coming true. I got goose bumps when I saw the circuit. It is a massive facility and I am very excited. It will be a great showcase.” Both were emphatic in their assertion that F1 would help motor sport in India and would bring huge number of people to the circuit. Their reasoning was that “people do relate to Michael Schumacher and there is overdose of cricket. Motor sport will grow bigger. For future generations of drivers, it will be a huge infrastructure. Having a GP here will bring change like it happened in Malaysia and China.” The first Indian to be in the driver’s seat of an F1 car long before Force India came into being; Karthikeyan will race on October 30 for his Spanish outfit Hispania Racing. He had competed in the first half of the 2011 season for Hispania before being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo for the rest of the season.
All you wanted to know about Buddh International Circuit (BIC)
Track Length 5.141 km (3.19 mi)
Average Lap Time 1 min 27sec
Total Corners (Turns) 16
Highest Elevation 14 m
Width of Track Between 18-20m
Fastest Speed (Expected) 320km/hr
Average Speed 210km/hr
Slowest Speed 93km/hr
Race Length 287.84 km (178.64mi)
Track Area 875 hector
Track Designed by Herman Tilke (German architect), who had also designed race circuits in Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, UAE, USA.
► Indian F1 Race Track would be one among the fastest Formula 1 race tracks in the world.
► Circuit is laid on an area of around 875-acres in the sports city being constructed 35 km from Delhi on a 2500-acre site that also includes 100,000 seating capacity International Cricket Ground, Golf Course (18-Hole), 25,000 seating capacity Hockey Stadium, Sports complex etc.
► Elevation leading to wild 14 m high corner from turn 1 to 3 make this circuit one of the most challenging circuits for drivers.
► Turn 10 and 11 will be super fast and huge grand stand will be so close to the track that 30000 spectators will feel the engines roaring. The looping Turn 10 will have two distinct profiles: a tighter inner line for the bike racers and a wider, faster, higher and longer outer curve for F1.
► Four million cubic metres of earth had been moved and compacted to make circuit foundations and to introduce 14 m high elevation.
► 25000 general tickets starting at Rs 2500 (3 days).
► FIA had signed a contract of Rs 1600 crore with JPSK Sports Pvt. Ltd. to organise an F1 race in India.
► Estimated cost to develop the circuit will be 300 million US Dollars (Rs 1200 crore to Rs 1500 crore).
► Track will be utilised during off season period for bike race etc. Also in talks with Moto GP, V8 Super Car Series. As a dual-use track, its precise spec (details of kerbing, run-off areas, safety barriers etc) have to be fitted to both purposes.
► 120,000 seating capacity with 25,000 in the main grandstand.
► There is natural grass stands and temporary stand also that can accommodate thousands.
However, it has not been a smooth sailing for the organisers, who had to overcome several problems and bureaucratic hurdles but now they are smiling. Sameer Gaur, managing director and chief executive of race promoters Jaypee Sports International Limited (JPSL), declared that all logistical arrangements had been made to make the event a grand success. “We are ready for the best-ever race and our aim is to make the F1 event so grand that it will showcase best of India,” he added. Ecclestone too was pleased with the pace of work at the BIC. He said: “It will be in good shape. When I came here, I was pleased (with what I saw). Things will be fine. In the end we will do good things for India. People are there, checking everything on daily basis.”
The 82-year-old British sports entrepreneur disclosed: “30 per cent of the total spectators will come from abroad, especially Europe.” This is several times more than what the Commonwealth Games organisers had projected (it is different matter that very few foreigners came for the games because of the intense negative publicity it generated). Askari Zaidi, media head of JPSL is also assured about the foreigner spectators. He said: “This event has tremendous potential for boosting tourism and generating employment opportunities.” Zaidi further explained that the BIC will become a hub for the motor sports activities and that will need several small auxiliary units to cater to the need of the drivers. “What happened in Gurgaon when the Maruti plant was set up there, it in no time became a big centre for small units providing jobs to thousands of people,” he commented. He dismissed the notion that the BIC was a very expensive project which will be difficult to maintain saying: “Yes, it is a very expensive track but we are sure that more and more professional drivers and other motor sports buff will continue coming here not only for events but also for practices. It is like golf. So many foreigners come to India to simply play golf, because playing here is much cheaper than in their own countries, so in our case, the drivers and other motor sports lovers are likely to find India cheaper compare to other countries in the continent for practice and competition purposes.”
After Airtel became the title sponsor of the event, Mercedes-Benz has also announced its partnership with the event and mind you this companionship is not coming cheap. Admitting this Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel, said: “There was a lot of merit in having an association with the world’s most popular motor sport event. Such events do not come cheap. We see value in this investment. We met five-six months back and meeting of the minds happened at first time. F1 is a sport and Airtel is a brand. Both resonate well in the contemporary markets. Formula One today enjoys the cult following of a whopping 500 million plus fans. Airtel, with its 200 million plus customers which significantly represent the young and vibrant population, is delighted to be affiliated with F1 to bring this international sports event to India for the first time ever!”
While appreciating the deal Ecclestone disclosed 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.
By Harpal Singh Bedi