F1 will Find it Tough to Match Cricket's Hype: Ecclestone

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS): Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Budh Track in the outskirts of the capital will be ready for the October 30 race, but feels it will take a lot for the organisers to create a hype for motorsports in this cricket crazy country.

The 80-year-old Englishman, who announced India's telecom major Airtel as the title sponsor for the race, Thursday said the nation of 1.2 billion is a big market for Formula One.

"F1 is new to India. It would take efforts to generate interest. We will never be able to catch cricket but perhaps with extra effort in 2-3 years we can get close to it," said Ecclestone.

Ecclestone said Formula One officials are monitoring the preparation of the track on a daily basis and have no doubts that it will be ready by the scheduled time.

"It will be one of the nicest circuits and will be completed in time by September. There are no problem. People are there, checking everything on daily basis. It will be in good shape," he said.

Asked about the importance of Indian market for Formula One, Ecclestone said: "India is one of the top five countries, it's a major part of the world and we wanted a championship here. For us it was very important to be here. When I came here, I was pleased (with what I saw). Things will be fine. In the end, Formula One will do good things for India."

Ecclestone also said the race would produce several jobs and business worth billions of dollars.

"Races create lot of jobs and business worth dollars. We hope to do some good for India," he said.

Ecclestone also rubbished threats by Formula One teams to form a breakaway league.

"It is a complete nonsense. They have been threatening us for the last 30 years," he said.

Bharti Airtel chief executive Sanjay Kapoor said it was an open-ended deal.

"Such events do not come cheap. We see value in this investment. We met five-six months back and decided to take it forward. F1 is a sports and Airtel is a brand. Both resonate well in the contemporary markets," he said.

Asked why they pulled out of cricket Champions League Twenty20, Kapoor said: "You take decision keeping in mind the brand. We keep balancing the portfolios."


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Title: F1 will Find it Tough to Match Cricket's Hype: Ecclestone

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