On the back of Narain Karthikeyan's suggestion that the country will not be ready to welcome Formula 1 within the next two years as had been originally forecast, the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that there will be no Indian Grand Prix on the calendar until 2011 – at the earliest.
With India set to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games, former Williams ace and current A1GP World Cup of Motorsport star Karthikeyan had claimed that there was insufficient infrastructure and funding to also hold a grand prix close to the capital city of Delhi [see separate story – click here
An Indian Grand Prix has long been a dream of Force India F1 chairman and managing director Vijay Mallya, and with the arrival in the top flight of the country's first-ever F1 team, Karthikeyan sealing the nation's breakthrough international success in A1GP last year, the ascendancy of Karun Chandhok in GP2 and the popularity of motorsport in India booming, there has never been a better time or reason to have one.
Moreover, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi last year revealed that he had come to an agreement with Ecclestone for a race to take place at Greater Noida as of 2010, around a track to be conceived by renowned F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke. Now, however, the sport's commercial rights-holder appears to have had a change of heart.
“It's all going on as usual, but these things take time,” the 77-year-old told news agency AFP
. “Probably 2011 is what I want.”
Mallya, however, reacted with surprise to Ecclestone's announcement, the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire telling the International Herald Tribune
: “The track will be ready next year and we will let Bernie decide. I don't know what's on his mind...but he makes the schedule.”