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Formula One: F1 boss gives India GP a thumbs-up

india Updated: Oct 21, 2010 10:45 IST

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Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is confident India will hold a successful maiden Grand Prix next year, saying preparations were well on schedule.

"I can't praise enough," Ecclestone told reporters late Wednesday after a day-long visit to the under-construction 5.14-kilometre (3.2 mile) circuit in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi.

"Everything was much better than what I thought. The track is much better than many." The World Motor Sport Council last month formally approved India's inclusion on the race calendar for 2011, although it had yet to give a green light to the new track designed by renowned German architect Herman Tilke.

Ecclestone said India, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, deserved to be part of the F1 calendar. "I had heard about India, I thought that is where we should be," the 79-year-old said.

"We should have been here before. I am sure F1 would be accepted in India. "It will expose India to the rest of the world. India can get out of the event whatever they want." Ecclestone dismissed concerns about the October 30 race next year after the chaotic build-up to the recent Commonwealth Games in the Indian capital.

"There was so much doubt about the Commonwealth Games because of the silly media reports," he said. "That is why I am here. I saw the opening ceremony on television and it was better than the ones at the Olympics or the World Cup football."

Unlike the Games, which were under the authority of the government and the Indian Olympic Association, the race circuit is being built by private real estate developers Jaypee Group. The circuit is part of an ambitious 2,500-acre (1,000-hectare) sports complex being built by the group that will include an international-standard cricket stadium.

Formula One is keenly followed in India and the sport received a boost when Narain Karthikeyan raced for Jordan in 2005 and Karun Chandhok signed up with Hispania this year.

The country also fields its own team, Force India, owned by liquor and airline magnate Vijay Mallya.