As Indian brands break onto the international scene, Tata, the country's leading automobile brand, has also made it to the fast lane following confirmation that it will appear on the Ferarri team on the Formula One circuit.
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has officially announced that Tata branding would appear for the first time on the team's cars and all their branding material. Ferrari drivers Felippe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who will fight for world championship honours this year, will be the first two drivers to carry the coveted logo of one of India's leading automotive companies.
"For the first time an Indian brand will appear on the Ferrari," Montezemolo told media. "It's historic."
A Ferrari spokesman confirmed a deal had been reached and said the details and duration would be announced shortly.
The deal is a historic move not just for Ferrari or the Tata Group but also for F1 and India for a variety of reasons. Given the fact that F1 is in the midst of a major changeover – technical, sporting and economic – this deal assumes major importance for Ferrari, which seems to be bucking the trend to add more backers to its sporting efforts.
While Reuters has reported that Montezemolo revealed that it was the Tata brand that would appear on the bodywork of Ferrari cars next year, it was not exactly revealed whether it is the Tata Group or is it to be Tata Motors as per rampant speculation. The Tata Group would be joining big names led by Dubai-based finance and investment firm Mubadala as the main backers of the Ferrari F1 team along with Shell, Alice, Acer, AMD microprocessors and Martini.
The Tata Group has in the past raced on the F1 circuit when it provided financial support to Narain Karth-ikeyan who drove for Jordan in 2005. A year later the Tata logo adorned the Williams F1 cars driven by Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg on the F1 circuits while Karthikeyan was the team's test driver.
Ferrari has benefited massively from the efforts of Tata Consultancy Services, which has supplied programmes and solutions in various technological areas to the design, manufacture and operation of not just the F1 cars but also the eclectic sports cars that are the pride and envy of many enthusiasts.
In fact, the relationship between Fiat SpA – which owns Ferrari – and the Tata Group has been predominantly in the automotive space and the duo have a joint venture in India for cars and drivetrains.
Last year, however, saw Tata Motors back a Ferrari initiative in India that was said to be a precursor to the Prancing Horse making its debut in the Indian car market in 2009. With Tata Motors said to reckoning to set up an all new exclusive sales channel for top-end marques such as Ferrari, a Tata association with the Scuderia's Grand Prix team does only seem natural.
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