Organisers of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix set to be held later this year have insisted that there will be no repeat of the kind of shambles that characterised the build-up to the Commonwealth Games there last year and the first-ever Korean Grand Prix at around the same time – arguing that 'the country's reputation is at stake'.
The logo of the new Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida close to New Delhi was officially unveiled yesterday (Monday), but with no track tours for media, there are fears that the venue will not be ready on time for its scheduled 30 October slot on the F1 2011 World Championship calendar. Organisers Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) are adamant that will not be the case.
“The country's reputation is at stake,” stressed Jaypee Group executive chairman Manoj Gaur. “Our reputation is at stake. The western media may write whatever they want to. I would like to tell you that the track is ready. We are in the process of getting the grandstands ready. We will show the world that India can host international motor racing events.”
The circuit layout has been described as fast and wide, with Vicky Chandhok – Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) chairman and a consultant to JPSI – claiming that it will encourage exciting racing.
“It's the first track in the world that has been built according to the new FIA guidelines, which promote overtaking,” asserted the father of current Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok. “For that purpose, we have re-designed three corners. The track will be fast; the drivers and the spectators will enjoy it.”
The first deadline for organisers will come in June, with the FIA's official homologation process – with driver and spectator safety and medical provisions the chief criteria. Tickets will go on sale at a similar juncture – and JPSI managing director Sameer Gaur is confident that everything will be achieved within the specified timeframe.
“The group has been involved in projects that [have] required a lot of hard work,” he underlined. “The major challenge will be to get the operational aspect on-track. We have got a team of very highly-qualified people from Malaysia – like operations head Azhar Ghazili and his team – who have already handled at least five F1 races among others. A bunch of us went to Sepang recently to understand the operations part of it. We intend to go to one more circuit, most probably in Turkey.
“We appreciate this is the first F1 race in India and we would like to see as many people involved in it as possible. We can't disclose the exact price of tickets right now, but it should be moderate. For grandstand [tickets], we are looking into the pricing structures of different Asian countries like Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia among others.”