India is set to inaugurate its first Formula One race in New Delhi on the 30th October, 2011. Organizers were in a jubilant mood on Tuesday when the sale of tickets to the event set a new record during the first three hours touched INR 12.5m, equivalent to GBP 164 000, despite ticket prices starting at INR 2 500 per ticket.
The head of the ticket sales agency, Ashish Hemrajani, said that they expected an overwhelming response from the sale of tickets even though the cost of a ticket was almost a third of an average Indian’s monthly wages.
While some tickets have been reserved for foreign tourists the organizers have yet to work out a package that will include board and lodging along with the entry ticket to attract and accommodate foreign guests. Presently tickets were sold to people from in and around Delhi. The F1 race is scheduled to be held at the Buddh International Circuit 40 kilometers outside Delhi.
Bernie Ecclestone, president and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, has already inspected the new 5.14 kilometer track and announced that he would back the organizers anytime. German Grand Prix driver, Karun Chandhok, was most impressed by the undulation the organizers have created on the track and with the three special overtaking zones.
This is the first track in the world with overtaking zones that are double the width of the track. The overtaking zones were included on the recommendations of Charlie Whiting, FIA race director and many Grand Prix drivers.
Although the preparations are on schedule and organizers say the track is going to be ready by October, there is speculation about the timing of the race. Ecclestone is convinced that the race should be scheduled for April. The owner of the F1 team Force India, Vijay Malaya backed his drivers when they said they would prefer the race to be scheduled for a cooler month but reiterated that they would accept if it had to be scheduled in April.
Ecclestone delayed the circuit’s final inspection until the end of September yet confirmed that the organizers will have the track ready by then.
Organizers say they are eager to see how popular the motor sport will get, as compared to India’s favorite sport, cricket. Ecclestone suggested that motor sport may not become as popular as Cricket, but said, based on the overwhelming sales of tickets, it can get pretty close.