Bernie Ecclestone has lent further support to India's bid to become the next new host to appear on the Formula One world championship calendar by insisting that Delhi will debut in 2011.
With claim and counter-claim from various parties clouding India's true ability to stage a round of the biggest motorsport championship in the world, Ecclestone is sticking to his most recent prediction that the country would join the circus in two years' time.
The sport's commercial guru had initially hoped to see India on the schedule earlier than 2011, but admitted during the summer that delays in deciding on a location for the planned new F1-spec venue had set the project back, forcing him to revise his timetable.
Now, however, with Force India team boss – and Indian GP driving force – Vijay Mallya claiming that the circuit could be ready for 2010, and erstwhile Jordan F1 pilot Narain Karthikeyan suggesting that the current global economic climate would hinder progress, Ecclestone has moved to reinforce his confidence in the project.
"Of course we will deliver, otherwise we wouldn't have entered into an agreement," he told BBC Asian Network
, confirming that he and Indian company Jaiprakash Associates Ltd remain 'fully committed' to the project, despite delays that prevented earthworks beginning, as planned, in 2008.
Ecclestone remains keen to tap into one of the world's fastest-growing economies, despite India not yet appearing to have a successor to Karthikeyan, who completed a single season with Jordan in 2004 before moving on to become a test driver with Williams. Karun Chandhok continues to offer the country its best opportunity to return to F1 but has yet to find a team willing to hire him.
"It's a large, large country with a big population and it's good for the sponsors, car manufacturers and everyone involved in Formula One," Ecclestone, who has championed Chandhok, noted, "I doubt anything will be a rival to cricket, but let's see."