Indian GP organisers upbeat despite big dip in attendance
29 October, 2012
Oct.29 (Reuters) – A significant dip in race-day attendances failed to stop Indian Grand Prix organisers basking in the glory of an otherwise successful second edition of their race, as the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of Delhi put behind the teething problems that plagued the inaugural race last year and put up a show without major glitch.
None of these, however, could gloss over the dip in the numbers of fans, the most important constituent of any sport, as 65 000 of them turned up for Sunday’s race, down from last year’s 95 000.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was not worried.
“First races are always high and the second year goes down. If the third year isn’t going up, then it’s something to worry about,” the Briton who celebrated his 82nd birthday at the circuit told reporters.
“We have a competitor here. What’s the name of that game? Cricket. That’s it,” added F1′s most powerful man.
Indian motorsports federation chief Vicky Chandhok reiterated the same three-year cycle and predicted a bigger turnout in 2013.
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton said the Indian Grand Prix would not become one of the most sought-after races on F1 calendar if fans in the cricket-mad country turned their back on it.
“Generally when you have good races, you have good crowds and that’s what makes your weekend,” he said, referring to races in Singapore, Silverstone, Catalunya and Montreal.
“Those are really special circuits. The city comes alive and the circuit is just alive because of the fans.
“I think the fans are what will make it a real special race…Not just cricket, which is pretty cool but F1 One is quite cool too,” said the Mercedes-bound driver.
“Last year clearly was a novelty, first ever F1 One in India etc,” the liquor baron told Reuters.
“It is quite a drive from Delhi and people’s apprehensions are also about parking. If you don’t have a car pass, you could be a long way from the entrance gates.
“The traffic also is a consideration…the third is hotels. If you look around here, there are many new hotels of a very high standard but [we need] more for middle class and upper middle class people. For an average person, it’s pretty expensive,” he said.
According to Mallya, the 100 000-plus capacity track could well be brimming with fans next year, provided the race is promoted in a big way.
“I think that some more marketing and some more road shows will bring more of an audience in here,” he said.
Subbed by AJN.