With an Indian Grand Prix on the mind of FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone, is it any wonder that he has been very keen to see an Indian driver enter the series? Explaining to Reuters, Ecclestone says that he is happy for newly announced Hispania Racing Team (HRT) driver Karun Chandhok.
“I am very happy to see that Karun has finally secured his place on the Formula One grid,” the 79-year-old Ecclestone wrote in a statement.
“It’s been a bit last minute but the main thing is that he is there and with a team that should provide him stability and a chance to learn.
“While I believe it’s going to take Karun until mid-season to be able to show his potential, I wish him all the very best for this season and look forward to seeing the Indian media and public get behind him this year,” he added.
India is scheduled to host a grand prix in 2011 and Ecclestone said Chandhok’s arrival was the logical next step for the country.
“India is rapidly growing to be one of the most important and powerful players in the world of business, culture and sport and at FOM (Formula One Management) we look at India very seriously,” he said.
“We have an Indian F1 team on the grid, we will have an Indian Grand Prix thanks to the Jaypee Group in 2011 and so it seems only right that there should be an Indian driver in Formula One.”
So it will take time to prove himself and I can exclusively reveal that I agree with this sentiment. I also think having an Indian driver is a capital idea if Ecclestone is pressing for the Indian Grand Prix in 2011. The market, economy and fan interest is growing in India. Some of F1B’s biggest traffic comes from the fine people of India who are embracing the concept of F1 in their country and on many levels, that’s more than I can say for the folks here in the USA.
Russia, Korea and India all are vying for a grand prix and that all but makes a return the the US a very difficult proposition when you consider the interest level and revenue potential that India alone would bring. As a business decision, Ecclestone is completely correct. As a romantic fan of yesteryear, it is hard to admit that a US grand Prix may be a long way out.
Celebrating the moment is the country of India. An Indian team and now an Indian driver. There is a lot to be excited about and F1B celebrates with them as it brings a whole new market burgeoning with newly minted F1 fans and most importantly to Ecclestone, TV revenue. So buy those Force India hats and shirts and get ready to turn the TV’s on in a week…Ecclestone is counting on it. If you don’t? Well, USA welcomes you to the we-used-to-have-a-race category of fandom.