IOA has no knowledge of F1 racing, says Akbar Ibrahim

By Abhishek Roy, IANS

New Delhi : At a time when India is buoyed by the Formula One hype, the country's A1 Grand Prix team manager Akbar Ibrahim took a dig at the organisers, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), saying they have no knowledge of the sport.

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"F1 will be a big boost for the motorsports in India but for that it will need a huge effort from all the agencies that will be involved in organising it. But I have my reservations because the IOA has no knowledge of organising such an event," Ibrahim told IANS from Malaysia.

"Organising such a race is not a child's play and if the IOA wants to host Formula One race in 2009, work should have started already. For the race to be a reality we would need more participation from the government and other agencies," he said.

Ibrahim drew the example of the Malaysian Grand Prix and said that the government supported it all the way.

"The then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad took personal interest in the sport and that was the reason why it became a success. Similarly, the Indian government should back the project if we want to see the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso racing in India," said Ibrahim.

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi announced last week that a deal has been signed with Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of Formula One, for a race in the capital. IOA will be the promoter of the first event in 2009.

Kalmadi also said that the IOA would build an F1 track and a brand new stadium in the capital by 2009 for the inaugural race.

According to Ibrahim, a former first class cricketer, all that is happening now is hype.

"If the IOA doesn't get its act together very soon, the race will become a myth and India will miss a big chance," he said.

Ibrahim also said that ideally to have the infrastructure in place, a capital of four to five billion rupees is need and he feels generating that much amount won't be a tough task.

"Generating the money is the easy part. What the IOA actually needs to do is sit down with people know motorsports and prepare a blue print for the event," he said.

He also expressed his reservation about the ongoing tussle between the IOA and the sports ministry and said that if things are not sorted out soon, the F1 race will remain a dream.

"Unfortunately in India, there is a power struggle everywhere. People should sort out their differences and work together to make the F1 race a reality," he concluded.