Bharti Airtel will be the title sponsor for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, it has been announced.
The 'leading' global telecommunications company use to back the Champions League Twenty-20 cricket tournament, but recently aborted its five-year deal, just two years in. The announcement it will now support the first F1 event in India this October, the 17th round in the F1 2011 World Championship, was made this week.
“Airtel is delighted to be affiliated with F1 to bring this international sports event to India for the time first time ever,” said Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel.
“Right through its growth path, Airtel has been associated with speed, performance, calculated risks and excitement, the very words that spring to mind when you think of F1. Hence, it is only natural that Airtel and F1 together bring to life the dreams of millions of young and passionate sports enthusiasts in India, giving them an opportunity of a lifetime to watch the very first F1 Airtel Grand Prix of India in person.”
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone meanwhile said he was 'pleased' with the deal: “We are very good partners as we are both forward thinking,” he told Sportbusiness.com
. “F1 is obviously new to India. We will never catch cricket, I'm quite sure about that, but we have got to try our best to do that.
“I'm sure eventually we will get very close. We have got to remember that India is one of the top five most important countries in the world so it's extremely important to be in India.”
Ecclestone also added that the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida will be ready for its first race on October 30.
“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 completed on time," he continued.
“We are checking everything all the time, on a daily basis. We are very, very happy. There are no problems.”