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India 'will host 2011 Grand Prix'

By Andy May
BBC Asian Network

Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone views India as a lucrative new market for F1 to tap into

India will definitely host a Grand Prix in Delhi in 2011, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has told the BBC Asian Network.

Ecclestone insists he and Indian company Jaiprakash Associates Ltd are "fully committed" to the project.

"Of course we will deliver... otherwise we wouldn't have entered into an agreement," said Ecclestone.

Work on a new circuit on the outskirts of Delhi was meant to begin in October 2008 but was postponed.

Ecclestone said that this was because he has issues with the global calendar of sporting events and "certain contracts elsewhere to fulfil".

BBC Sport understands that work on India's track will now begin this summer, with completion expected at the end of 2010.

Top Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan cast doubt over the project last month, saying he didn't believe "anyone would want to invest in motorsport" during the current global economic crisis.

But Karthikeyan, who raced for Jordan and tested for Williams in F1, knows how popular the sport could be in his country.

"It will be very big for the whole of Asia because everyone will benefit," he said.

"It will also be much better for fans in India to get closer to the sport."

Ecclestone is keen to bring F1 to a country with a population of over one billion and one of the world's fastest-growing economies - even in the current global downturn.

I doubt in India anything will be a rival to cricket, but let's see

Bernie Ecclestone
"It's a large, large country with a big population and it's good for the sponsors, car manufacturers and everyone involved in Formula One," he said.

The Force India team's participation in F1 has also raised the sport's profile in India, although it has a long way to go before it challenges cricket's popularity.

Ecclestone admitted he is not expecting Lewis Hamilton to rival the likes of India cricket superstars Mahendra Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar any time soon.

"I doubt in India anything will be a rival to cricket, but let's see," he said.

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see also
Ecclestone stalls India GP debut
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
India to build F1 track for 2010
15 Nov 07 |  Formula One
Spyker change name to Force India
24 Oct 07 |  Formula One
India agree deal on Grand Prix
14 Jun 07 |  Formula One
No changes to Force India line-up
14 Dec 08 |  Formula One

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