Bernie Ecclestone is confident Formula 1 can capture the imagination of the general Indian public ahead of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix
in October, speculating that it can get close to the nation's passion for cricket.
India, the second most populous country in the world, makes its first appearance on the F1 calendar this year with a race at the Buddh International Circuit, located on the outskirts of the capital city New Delhi.
Coming a year after India hosted the Commonwealth Games, an event that was beset by a series of well documented issues, F1 chief Ecclestone has allayed fears the Indian Grand Prix
will be similarly unprepared, insisting everything is on time for the October 30th race.
Touching on the influence F1 can have in India, Ecclestone believes it will have a significant appeal to a nation otherwise 'obsessed' with cricket.
"Formula One is obviously new to India and it would take at least 2-3 years... we will never catch cricket, I'm quite sure about that, but we got to try our best to do that. I'm sure eventually we will get very close," he said during a press conference to announce telecom giant Bharti Airtel as the event's title sponsor.
"I have no doubt in my mind that the circuit is going to be one of the nicest we have and that it's going to be complete on time," Ecclestone told Reuters
. "We are checking everything all the time, on a daily basis. We are very, very happy that everything is on time. There are no problems."
Plans for an Indian Grand Prix
have been on the drawing board for more than a decade, with several proposed venues being discussed before construction of a permanent racing facility in Greater Noida near New Delhi was given the green light.
Interest of F1 in India has gathered momentum in recent years thanks to the success of Vijay Mallya's Force India
team, while F1 drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok have also helped raise awareness.