The Indian Grand Prix has announced a naming rights deal with Bharti Airtel, with the telecoms company dropping its cricket sponsorship in favour of Formula One.

8197 - Indian GP secures cricket sponsor

Airtel was previously the title sponsor of the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament in a deal worth a reported $40million. A report in the Times of India, however, claims that the new F1 deal comes in at $8.5million, and states "The deal is ... worth much less than Indian corporates pay for a slice of the cricket pie."

Bernie Ecclestone has previously said that cricket's popularity in India will be unrivalled by Formula One, but now says he believes the sport can aspire to reach the same level.

"It will take efforts to generate interest," Ecclestone said. "We will never catch cricket, but we can get close to it, perhaps with some extra effort. India is a major part of the world and we wanted a race here ... I hope, in the end, it will do good for India.''

Reports claim that the Airtel deal is for three years, but Ecclestone said that the deal was open and he would like it to continue "forever, until we stop".