Saturday, September 8, 2007

Bernie: `Indian GP still on the cards`

Plans for an Indian GP are still on track despite reports to the contrary, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

India is expected to host its inaugural F1 grand prix in 2009. However, as yet funding has not been put in place and neither has a definite layout being decided on. This led to reports that Ecclestone had given the Indian Olympic Association until the end of this month to put plans in motion or forget about holding a race in two years' time. The F1 supremo, though, has denied this saying: "I hope within the next two years we will be racing in India."

The 76-year-old also downplayed claims that India is not yet ready to host an event of this magnitude. "India is the same as everywhere else in the world," he told CNBC-TV18. "We race all over the world, so why not in India?"

Indian GP deal not sealed yet - reports

Indian publications have expressed scepticism after the country's Olympic Association on Thursday revealed a deal to host a grand prix in New Delhi in 2009. DNA India reports that the announcement relates only to a 'letter of intent' signed by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The next - and more important - steps, it added, will be the signing of a memorandum of understanding and then finally a proper contract.

"There's nothing new here," the report said. "A similar letter of intent was signed between formula one management and the Andhra Pradesh government in 2004 for staging a grand prix in Hyderabad.

"But it didn't take off.

"Ditto with Moscow in Russia and Cancun in Mexico, where letters of intent were signed for staging grand prix races."

The president of the Indian motor sports federation Vicky Chandhok, meanwhile, said: "This is an expression of interest. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Until the time the contract is signed, there is no race."

Williams' Indian test driver Narain Karthikeyan added: "The actual work starts now. To build a track in such a short time is the biggest challenge."

Report also questioned New Delhi's ability to even acquire the necessary 600 acres of land, and find sufficient government or private funding.

Indeed, Ecclestone's letter of intent read: "It will be the (promoter's) responsibility to get the support of the governments to get a circuit constructed at a site which is acceptable to (us).

"It will be (the promoter's) responsibility to raise the necessary financing, whether through government or private funds (or combination thereof)."

Indian GP could be street race

India's highly speculated grand prix in the capital New Delhi could also be a street race, it has emerged. "I'm proposing to start things with a street race on Raj Path," businessman Vijay Mallya said this week, admitting that the lack of an adequate permanent circuit would otherwise be an obstacle to getting the race up and running by 2009. Mallya, who is a leading force behind negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, is also chief of Toyota's new on-car sponsor Kingfisher Airlines. Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher is therefore on PR duties in India this week, and with Mallya has met with Indian minister Shiela Dixit about the grand prix. Ralf said: "It's incredible what's been happening in India in the last three years. If you read any newspaper you get to know about the booming economy. "F1 must come to India and I'm sure it will."

Another step forward for Indian GP

New Delhi has moved another crucial step closer to arriving on a formula one calendar of the very near future.
With a project that is already supported by Bernie Ecclestone and private investors, it is reported that the exclusive designer of grand prix circuits recently made a visit to the Indian capital city.

Indeed, Hermann Tilke has stopped off in Delhi "six times" in the recent past, according to the newspaper Times of India, and the latest was to inspect the proposed street circuit layout in an area known as Rajpath.

"We'd like to position Delhi as a street circuit," the German is quoted as saying.

"We think it's a perfect track for F1 racing."

Tilke also revealed that formula one officials have already met with Delhi's chief minister Sheila Dixit, and "(we) will be meeting her again to further discuss the matter," he added.

The inaugural Indian GP could then be held in 2009.

'09 or '10 for Indian GP

India will definitely host a formula one grand prix in the near future. That is the claim of the country's former motor sports federation president Vicky Chandhok, who has reportedly been recruited to find a main sponsor for a street race in Delhi, according to India's Business Standard.

The newspaper said F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has decided to bring his circus to India in either 2009 or 2010.

"Ecclestone is in constant touch," Chandhok revealed.

"It's not a question anymore of whether, it's now a matter of when F1 would enter India."

Friday, September 7, 2007

More doubt on plans for India GP

India's two motor sport bodies have cast further doubt on whether the country will host a grand prix in 2009.
The Indian Olympic Association said last week that it has bagged a preliminary deal with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone for a race in Delhi -- despite the lack of confirmed funding or a circuit. But the Motorsports Association of India (MAI) and the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI) both expressed scepticism this week.

"The announcement was a bit premature," NDTV quotes MAI president Nazir Hoosein as saying.

FMSCI's president Rajat Mazumbar adds: "The only authorised body that can run motorsports in the country is ours."