The inaugural Indian Grand Prix is gaining some much needed traction. Yesterday, FIA’s Charlie Whiting performed a routine inspection of the Buddh International Circuit (Read post: Charlie Whiting Impressed With The Indian Grand Prix Preparations). Today, Narain Karthikeyan and Hero Motors have announced a one-race sponsorship deal, which of course is for the Airtel Indian Grand Prix.
Confused as to why the deal is only for one race? Well, the Indian Grand Prix is expected to be our country’s single biggest sporting event in 2011. It is expected to attract a few million viewers on TV and track attendance of over 100,000 spectators (Read post: Airtel Indian Grand Prix Tickets: Which Stand Is The Best) during the three day racing weekend. Hence the one race deal.
Hero Motors is also one of the country’s oldest and largest business houses and wishes to associate themselves with the other two firsts; Narain Karthikeyan (India’s first ever Formula1 driver) and the first ever Indian Grand Prix.
Narain Karthikeyan on the other hand will be much happy about this sponsorship deal as it secures (reads funds) his Indian GP drive. At the start of the season, Narain and TATA had joined hands for the 2011 Formula1 season. Narain, who drives for HRT, was dropped mid-season and replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. (Read post: Why Narain Karthikeyan Was Dropped) By my assumption, the one race deal should cost Hero Motors around $100,000 – $200,000 (USD). (The math is: if a 20-race annual deal for a bottom grid team like HRT costs a minimum of $2million, then a one race deal would cost Hero Motors on pro-rata + a certain premium)
While Narain announced that his Indian GP drive was confirmed a few weeks back. It probably was confirmed on the basis of this sponsorship agreement. A team would use a local driver in his local race only if there were sponsorship (read financial) benefits from it! This is also probably one of the reasons why Karun Chandhok hasn’t yet confirmed his Indian GP seat. (atleast not publicly!)
So where does this money go? Well, not that it matters to the Indian F1 fan, but this is extra sponsorship money for HRT which should go towards car development or paying any other bill! With this confirmation, two of the three Indian elements for the Indian GP will be racing at the Buddh International Circuit. Will Karun Chandhok be there too?