Milan: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s dream of bringing India into the Formula One fold showed signs of translating into reality as he rounded off his two-day trip with a “positive response” from the sport’s big wigs.
Naidu, the head of a 19-member delegation, had a busy schedule during his stay in this picturesque city and appeared confident of putting Hyderabad in the racing map after his “positive and satisfactory” discussions with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone.
Naidu’s one-on-one meeting with Ecclestone, which was originally scheduled for ten minutes, lasted for nearly 45 minutes indicating the Formula One’s keenness to explore new markets. After the meeting, some key members of the delegation joined in the discussions and also submitted a bid document.
“Formula One is a project which is very close to my heart. We had prepared well for the meeting and gave an indication of what we intend to do. The response has been positive. We are very hopeful of hosting an event in 2006,” Naidu said. “It is a project which will enhance Hyderabad’s profile and also create direct and indirect employment opportunities to lakhs of people,” he said.
Naidu said he was looking at the long term benefits of bringing Formula One to Hyderabad and was determined to go ahead with the project even if it draws criticism from some political parties.
“My aim is to create the best possible infrastructure in my state. Top IT companies like Microsoft and Dell have started coming to Hyderabad. We need to encourage more companies to invest. I think this project will not only boost tourism but attract so many other industries.”
Naidu was not bothered that Formula One is not a very popular sport in India and may not attract too many enthusiasts to the tracks. “It may not be as popular as cricket, but definitely it is picking up. A lot of young people have started taking interest in racing. In fact it has the second highest viewership in India.
“India is a big country and I am sure if given the opportunity we can compete and do well in the sport. We need to create the infrastructure. If we have a Formula One track it will help aspiring Indian drivers. It will popularise the sport to a great extent,” Naidu said.
He said his government has tied up with the IMG to promote and create sporting infrastructure in Andhra Pradesh. “We will be renovating and completing a few projects before the Afro-Asian Games later next month.”
“IMG will be investing around 700 crores for creating the infrastructure which will also include building two cricket stadiums,” he said.