New Delhi: Narain Karthikeyan, India`s first F1 driver, on Friday signed a sponsorship deal with Hero Motors for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix and hoped with the premier motorsport event making its foray into the country, more corporate houses will come to support the home grown racers.
Pankaj Munjal, the MD of Hero Motors, world`s largest cycle manufacturers, signed the agreement with the Chennai-based driver in full media glare but the deal so far is restricted to just the Indian GP, slated for October 30.
"I think, it will happen slowly. Hopefully, others will follow. After the first Malaysian Grand Prix, four corporate are supporting their F1 team," Karthikeyan said when asked if there will be a paradigm shift with regard to motorsport in India.
"Like TATA, it could be a long association. There are a lot of aspiring drivers and corporates have a role to play."
Kathikeyan`s Hispania car will bear a Hero Motors logo during the race.
Munjal said it was time that they support a sportsperson individually and that the "doors were open" for a long-time association with Karthikeyan.
"We are trying to catch him young. We met and shared thoughts. We`ll go step by step. The current association is only for the Indian GP," Munjal said without revealing the sponsorship figure.
Karthikeyan said driving before the home crowd would be the most cherished moment of his career.
"It will be the most special thing, I will doing in my life. On October 28 when I will be readying for practice at 10, it`s going to be a very special day.”
"As a kid I had always dreamt of becoming an F1 driver but never in my wildest dream, I thought, I would be driving in the inaugural Indian GP in front of my own people. It`s becoming a reality now. It`s going to be a thrilling experience," he said.
Karthikeyan also rated the Buddh International Circuit, the venue for the race in Greater Noida, among top three in the world.
"It would be one of the most challenging."
Asked, if there is any possibility of him driving for a better team next season, Karthiketyan said, "Just to sustain in Formula One is tough. It does not work that way. You don`t have choice. Obviously results will be better with better teams."