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Indian Grand Prix has delivered on all counts: Ecclestone

by TNN Posted on 31 Oct 2011 285 Views

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Bernie Ecclestone had more than just his 81st birthday to celebrate this weekend. Read on!

 

 

 

 

The inaugural Indian GP got underway at 3 pm on Sunday and when TNN caught up with the Formula One supremo, he'd just finished exchanging pleasantries with cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood villain Gulshan Grover.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, Ecclestone had expressed fears over last-minute preparations at the Buddh International Circuit. On Sunday, though, he looked very happy. "What they had to build here in the short amount of time is just incredible. I've seen what happens at most new races and new tracks," he said.

 

Though the circuit was finished in time, a couple of weeks more would have left everything looking greener and sparkling, agrees Ecclestone. "India should be very proud that a private enterprise has achieved this. Everything is super, it just needed a little bit of polish. It needs to be tidied up which doesn't take time."

 

Most new circuits are red flagged for their boring design and ultimately one-sided action come race day. But the Buddh International Circuit has got universal praise for its design. "We wanted to make sure that this was built a particular way. We wanted to make sure it comes out well on TV. Circuits are usually flat but there's a bit of elevation here so it looks good on TV. And it has," Ecclestone said.

 

"I'd said before the weekend that we needed three things to make this race a success: Good crowd, media support and a track that the drivers will enjoy. I think India has delivered on all counts."

 

In a departure from the usual, Formula 1 and not cricket has been dominating front pages of newspapers and TV channels have an F1 package on every news bulletin. And a steady stream of traffic built up since 10 am on Sunday morning as all roads led to Greater Noida.



But what 'Mr E' wanted to know was how excited the whole of India was, not just those living in Delhi. Karun Chandhok, who was a part of the conversation, chipped in, "A lot of people are flying in from all over the place. Thousands of people have come all over from Chennai, Sikkim, Bangalore. It's not cheap for people to fly over to Delhi."

 

Ecclestone has been a supporter of the young Chandhok for long and has always plumped for the idea of an Indian driver on the grid. "We were expecting him to be on the grid, to be honest. If Karun had a bit of support a couple of years ago, things would've been different," he said, as Chandhok smiled ruefully.

 

There was a dog on the track and elephants welcoming the drivers at the Jaypee Greens Golf Resort and Spa. While that sent some members of the international media into fits of laughter and even led to bets being exchanged on another appearance by a dog or cow, Ecclestone was kinder. "It's nice to come to a race and not feel like we're back in Europe. They had the carriage ride. It's all been good. I've been happy. I'm surprised we didn't have elephants here, we could've done with that actually," he said with a straight face.



Talk about all the dust on the track has still not settled but Ecclestone isn't the kind to listen to every complaint that comes from the drivers. "Drivers complain whatever, no matter what. They're like wives. I should think this is one of the most interesting circuits and they'll have fun driving here." Chandhok added: "It's no different from Bahrain really."

 

The Indian GP is just the start that motorsports needed in India and it's something that Ecclestone will keep an eye on. "What will happen eventually is that between now and next year there will be other forms of entertainment and more plans. We'll have a good look after. These people come up with wonderful ideas but many of them are not practical," he smiled.

 

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