i1 Super Series Reveals Franchise Owners And More

The much awaited i1 Super Series of the Indian Racing League is back in the news again. I had predicted that traction for these series would pick up once the Indian Grand Prix would conclude. The organizers and management have revealed a few of their franchise owners and financials for owning an i1 team. The best time to make motorsport news – piggybacking the Formula1 hype!

Sachin Tendulkar (Read post: Sachin Tendulkar To Wave The Chequered Flag At The Indian Grand Prix) has been announced as the ‘brand ambassador’ and ‘advisor’ of the series; a role that hasn’t been well defined yet. I presume that the organizers would use Sachin’s imagery and might to attract crowds to the circuits for their events and of course other investors and sponsors. Barring that, I can’t visualize any other role for the Master Blaster.

In their announcement, the organizers claim to have attracted famous Bollywood personalities and cricketers to own franchisees. The i1 Super Series has also managed to attract investments from wealthy business families, an indication that Indians are biting the motorsport bait!

I had written about the Indian Racing League in August and had also indicated that a TV deal will be the key to i1’s success. (Read: Indian Racing League and the i1 Super Series) The organizers also announced that they have entered a broadcast deal with Ten Sports. The broadcast and programming details haven’t been released yet.

The list of franchise owners that were revealed by Machdar Motorsports:

Mumbai – Shah Rukh Khan, Jai Mehta and Juhi Chawla (co-owners of the Kolkata Knight Riders)

Delhi – Mohit Burman (co-owner of the Kings XI Punjab) and other investors

Hyderabad – Nagarjuna and N. Prasad (entrepreneur)

Chennai – Tony Fernandes and SG Srinivas

Chandigarh – Yuvraj Singh and a local businessman

Kolkata – a consortium involving Saurav Ganguly

Pune – A Bollywood connected business family

Bangalore – a consortium of investors

The above list is not confirmed, but reveals that at least two Indian Premier League owners are interested in owning franchisees in the Indian Racing League. Also, Team Lotus Racing boss, Tony Fernandes is keen on co-owning the Chennai franchise. Interestingly, even the Burman family, that was linked to purchasing a minority stake in Team Lotus Racing last week, is interested in the IRL. (Read post: Burman Family Buy Into Team Lotus)

In the August post, I had also raised a few valid questions on the operations of the i1 Super Series and you could read them here – ‘Indian Racing League and the i1 Super Series’.

Additionally, the organizers also revealed that the cost of $15 million to own a franchise for 15 years would be split. Interested owners would need to cough up $5 million in the first year to buy the franchise, followed by an annual outlay of only $1 million for 10 years. Somewhere, the organizers also indicated that much of the marketing for the series would be done by themselves. While there isn’t much clarity here, I would hope this is not the case. It would be good to see the franchise owners go out to the public to create and promote their motorsport brand in their own ways.

The last and the most interesting part that was also shared was their driver status. Each team’s driver composition would need to have one international driver, one Indian driver and one domestic driver. This would mean that at least 16 Indian drivers should get good exposure once the series goes live. However, the downside, is that the drivers would be selected via an invitation-only process!

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

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