When Sachin Tendulkar waved the chequered flag at the Buddh International Circuit on Sunday, the cricket superstar not only signalled the successful completion of India’s first Formula One race, but also heralded a new era in Indian motorsport.
An impressive turnout of 95,000 and unprecedented media coverage were testimony to the event’s success which had several obstacles to cross, but Narain Karthikeyan feels the motorsport fraternity has plenty to do before resting on its laurels.
“Now the most important thing is to cash in on the situation,” said Karthikeyan, who finished a creditable 17th.
“No one would have expected this kind of response for the inaugural edition. It took several years for Malaysia and China to attract decent crowds. Now that the Jaypee Group has done it in the very first year, the motorsport fraternity should make use of the strong platform.
“My sponsors are delighted with the mileage they got in the last 20 days. I am sure Indian companies would have realised the potential of F1 by now,” he added.
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs in India, says Formula One redeemed the image of India after the woeful organisation of the Commonwealth Games.
“It has given a huge boost to the country. My friends from different corners of the world called me up to say that their local newspapers and televisions were praising the event.
Even F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (who can’t be satisfied rather easily) was overwhelmed by what he saw on Sunday. All credit goes to Jaypee Group for making it a reality against all odds,” said Chandhok.
Though India has been one of the largest manufacturers of automobiles, not many companies support motorsport in India. Chandhok hopes the success of F1 in the country will lure more manufacturers into national championship.
“It’s very important to have a strong domestic circuit. Jaypee have already agreed to support the JK Tyre National championship by hosting this year’s final at the Buddh International Circuit on November 27. I am sure more companies will follow suit,” he added.
The GP of India faced teething troubles such as power outages, sewage problems and even a stray dog menace. To ensure a glitch-free event next year, the organisers have already begun to iron out issues in the circuit.
Sameer Gaur, managing director of Jaypee Group, assures there will be big changes next year.
“It was new for everyone in India, including us. Unlike our other businesses such as construction and cement manufacturing, we have understood that organising an F1 event is significantly different as well as challenging. I was so pleased to hear positive feedback from Bernie Ecclestone and it won’t stop there.”