Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hailed the circuit for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in October as "one of the nicest" on the calendar and predicted the series to take a serious hold in the world's second-most populous country.
Announcing telecom giant Bharti Airtel as title sponsor of the October 30 race at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi, the 80-year-old entrepreneur fully expects the F1 bug to bite the cricket-crazy nation.
"Formula One is obviously new to India and it would take at least 2-3 years... we will never catch cricket, I'm quite sure about that, but we got to try our best to do that.
"I'm sure eventually we will get very close," the Briton told reporters yesterday.
"I have no doubt in my mind that the circuit is going to be one of the nicest we have and that it's going to be complete on time," Ecclestone said at a city hotel after a ceremony to unveil the race logo.
"We are checking everything all the time, on a daily basis. We are very, very happy that everything is on time. There are no problems."
His words will sound like music to the ears of a country which saw the hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games reduced to a US$6 billion public relations disaster.
Ecclestone said F1 could not afford to ignore India, one of the world's fastest growing economies.
"We got to remember that India is one of the top-five most important countries in the world today," he added.
"So for us, it's extremely important to be in India as much as any other country in the world. So when I came here first, I was a bit surprised having not been in India before."
Interest in racing has increased in this country of 1.2 billion after the emergence of Indian F1 drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.