JULY 16, 2003
Ecclestone revives Indian Grand Prix talk
Bernie Ecclestone has wanted to have a Grand Prix in India for at least 10 years. Given the size of India's population and the fact that around 200m people are part of a fast-emerging Indian middle class, India is of major importance to many Formula 1 sponsors. In recent years the sport has moved more and more towards the big population markets rather than the traditional European heartlands with a race coming up in China, another planned in Russia and plans for further expansion in the United States. India is the one big market where little progress has been made. There was a rush of activity in India about five years ago with plans for a race to be held near Calcutta but the project became bogged down in financial problems and faded away. Since then there has been talk of an event in Bangalore but now Ecclestone is talking about a deal with the southern city of Hyderabad, an area where high technology industries are booming.
Despite the recent economic problems around the world India has not been greatly affected largely because the economy remains heavily controlled. This means that economic growth has been slow although there is a strong entrepreneurial culture developing, notably in the high-technology software industry. There are also signs of growing brand awareness which many of the F1 sponsors are keen to exploit.
But talk is cheap, actually building a circuit in India is another matter. Calcutta came close but there are no signs yet that Hyderabad or Bangalore is even close.
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