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Airtel is title sponsor for Indian F1

business Updated: Aug 19, 2011 11:14 IST
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The country's largest telecom operator Bharti airtel on Thursday joined hands with the Formula One (F1) Group Companies to become title sponsor of the Indian leg of the race series, scheduled on October 30.

The race in India, which will be the 17th in the Formula One World Championship, will be called the "Airtel Grand Prix of India", following the telecom major's tie-up with the Formula One Group Companies.

Bharti airtel India and South Asia CEO Sanjay Kapoor and Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone together unveiled the official logo of the Airtel Grand Prix of India.

Kapoor said there was a lot of merit in being associated with the world's most popular motorsport event.

"Formula One as a sport and airtel as a brand both share same synergies. Both resonate well with global and contemporary audience. The Airtel Grand Prix of India will be the first step for India in the world of international motorsport racing," Kapoor told reporters here.

He, however, did not disclose the tenure of contract and also the value of the title sponsorship deal.

"Such events do not come cheap. We see value in this in investment," Kapoor said.

Talking about the timeline for the title sponsorship, Ecclestone said, "Forever, until we stop."

Kapoor said airtel's association with F1 is in tune with the growing sports market in India and the need to connect with younger customers.

"The sports market in India is close to $40 billion and this market is growing at around 14% per annum," he said.

As part of its association with F1, brand airtel will offer Formula One enthusiasts a host of innovative offerings and initiatives, which will be rolled out and announced in weeks to come, Kapoor added.

"There are host of things in coming weeks... You will see a lot of things coming for out stakeholders, customers and employees," he said, without disclosing details.

The Indian race will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh), putting India on the global F1 map for the first time.

Kapoor said with the F1 race coming to India it will also bring a lot of economic opportunities to the country.

"Ten years of the Grand Prix in Australia brought the country over $1 billion in gross amount and about 28,000 jobs. In Canada, the Grand Prix brings them $100 million every year. Today, Britain realises more revenues from the motor sports industry than steel or construction combined," he claimed.

F1 has more than over 500 million fans across the world and is spread over 185 countries across the world. Vijay Mallaya-owned Force India is among the teams that are competing in the world championships along with biggies like Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Petronas Mercedes, among others.

Airtel has operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa, with over 228 million customers at the end of June, 2011.