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Can Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov Take F1 To The Next Level?

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIMarch 17, 2010

As of 2010, Formula One currently stands as the pinnacle of motorsport, with estimated worldwide peak audience of over 600million per race.

China and Brazil garner around 230million of that colossal figure, whilst in Europe over 50% of the population of Italy watch the likes of Jarno Trulli, Vitantonio Liuzzi and of course Ferrari every race weekend, with a TV audience of over 38million viewers.

So it's fair to say that Formula One isn't exactly a sport in desperate need of media promotion.

But what it could well do with is an even bigger audience, as the corosive tentacles of a global recession are still hitting teams hard, and especially the new kids on the block.

Bernie Ecclestone of course knows this and pushes hard to get Formula One well-known across all four corners of our very marketable Earth.

From Western Europe to South America, from Far East Asia to North America, and from the Middle East to Australasia, F1 circuits are propping up all over the place.

But there are currently two places where F1 interest doesn't appear to have reached its potential, India and Russia.

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Whilst there's talk of a Formula One Grand Prix being held in St. Petersburg in Russia and an Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Jaypee Group Circuit set to commence in 2011, interest in the pinnacle of world motorsport isn't really set alight in either country.

So this is where Formula One could perhaps be missing out, as India has the second largest population in the world (1,178,352,000 inhabitants) and Russia the ninth largest with 141,927,297.

And now this is where Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov come into things.

Narain Karthikeyan in 2005 became the first ever Indian Formula One driver when he got a race seat with the Jordan team, and that time F1 TV ratings in India boomed.

Since the creation of Force India in October 2007, Indian F1 interest does appear to have grown, but probably not at the rate it could well do.

Therefore, with the introduction of Karun Chandhok to F1, finally ratings for the sport in India might seriously pick up again, and could well bring in some decent revenue for F1, Chandhok's team Hispania Racing and maybe inadvertedly even Force India.

And if Chandhok proves to be a real success in the sport, he could well become an attractive proposition for the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, etc.

If utilised as marketing tool as well as a talented driver, Chandhok does have the potential to take Formula One to a higher audience, a higher income and thus to a more prestigious level.

So does Vitaly Petrov, the first ever Russian in F1. With Russia being a country on the rise, with more and more of their multi-millionaires and billionaires seemingly taking a greater interest in sport, Petrov could well help Formula One reach new heights.

Before this season, there was no Russian interest in F1 with no grand prix held in the country and no driver participating in the world's greatest car chase.

But now Vitaly Petrov gives Russia a big reason to broadcast, invest and tune into Formula One. Because after all, who wouldn't want to see a native of their country achieve world domination?

Great Britain has witnessed it many times, most recently with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, as have many other countries across the world, hence their interest in the sport is big, and hence why these countries are gaining big amounts of money as people want to watch their heroes, be likes their heroes and wear the merchandise of their heroes.

And if Vitaly Petrov can achieve success in F1, it would be a success for all involved, with the sport gaining income and a higher audience, Russian media outlets gaining better income from increased demand for coverage, and perhaps the economy in general benefitting from a whole load of variables.

Perhaps all of this is idealised thinking, a romantic notion that might never come to fruition, especially if Karun Chandhok and Vitaly Petrov end up as real big flops in the sport.

But if they are in any way a success, who's to say they can't take Formula One into new markets and greater heights?

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