New Delhi: Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday joined the Formula 1 (F1) bandwagon in India by becoming the official automobile partner for the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), the venue of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix (GP) starting on 30 October.
Mercedes-Benz and Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) have signed an agreement, according to which Mercedes will provide stand-by safety cars for the event. The two companies also announced that a driving academy will also be launched in 2012 and the selected drivers will get a chance to train in Germany. India will only be the third country to have such an academy in association with Mercedes.
JPSI chief executive officer and managing director Sameer Gaur said their agreement with Mercedes does not mean that safety cars will not come from Europe for the Indian GP. “Safety (cars) would come from Europe and the Mercedes car will be on stand-by. But it will be a permanent feature at the track,” Gaur said at a press conference.
“It (F1 in India) is a long cherished dream coming true. There is excitement and we have already sold 10,000 tickets. It’s a cricket-crazy country and the need is to have infrastructure. We will start a driving academy next year,” Gaur added.
Peter Honegg, chief executive officer and managing director of Mercedes-Benz, was delighted to announce their partnership with JPSI. “It’s a red letter day for us. I did not expect F1 coming to India this early. They (JPSI) have kept their promise to bring F1 to India,” Honegg said after alighting from a Mercedes car along with Gaur.
It was also announced that Mercedes buyers can purchase tickets for the Indian GP at the Mercedes showrooms for the next one and a half months and some of them will get a chance to drive on the BIC track on weekends, but after the race.
Recently telecom giants Airtel had joined the Indian GP as its title sponsor.