Business of Sport
Airtel sponsor Indian F1 GP
Mumbai - Bharti Airtel has signed up as the title sponsor of the inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix just days after curtailing a partnership reportedly worth $8 million per year with the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament in the country.
It was announced on Thursday that the October 30 race would be called the Airtel Grand Prix of India, marking F1's first ever visit to the country.
Earlier this month, Airtel ended its backing of the Champions League Twenty20 just two years into a five-year deal. Rival telecommunications company Nokia has signed up to succeed Airtel as the title sponsor of the tournament, which has been hosted in India three times in the past four years.
"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 Formula One," said Sanjay Kapoor, CEO for Bharti Airtel's India and South Asia operations.
"Hence, it is only natural that Airtel and Formula One 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 Airtel Grand Prix of India in person."
Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone added: "We are very good partners as we both project the same forward thinking...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 insisted that he is convinced the new Buddh International Circuit, which will host the race, will be ready on time. "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," he told reporters.
"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."