Indian Grand Prix 2012: Where’s the excitement?


It may seem strange to be writing this on the eve of Indian Grand Prix 2012 kicking off in Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida but it really distresses me.  Last year when Formula One came to India, I was really excited and amazed and being an Auto Journalist who started off his career with assessing and reviewing cars of all shape and sizes around the world, I took a sigh of relief and took great pride in it. But it was all lost this year when I saw the kind of buzz built around the event cooling off to an extent that this year you are only going to see weathered Indian Grand Prix 2011 holding hanging loosely on the Greater Noida Expressway.

Even in the last week of flagging off of the event, the buzz building activity was quite with a few F1 merchandise on display in limited numbers. Expectations are that this year, viewer turnout is going to be far limited. As compared to the 95,000 strong viewers in the paddock last year, this year ticket sales falls in the range of 55000 to 60000 tickets.  Jaypee Sports International Limited (JPSI) has however had different expectations when they built the race track for Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

Last year Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix 2011. Whoever wins it this year will definitely less cheers coming out of the stands? Indian Formula One racer Narain Karthekiyan has however told TOI, “Last year there was the novelty factor. But after last year, I think a lot of Delhiites are discouraged by the traffic leading up to the track. Also, usually in the second year, and it happens around the world, there is a drop in enthusiasm. I think it should pick up again from next year,”

Narain Karthikeyan drives for team HRT. He also shared his on Indian Formula One 2012 saying, “Unlike China, India is a country where people have plenty of knowledge about motorsports. In China it is only limited to Shanghai. However, in saying that, Brazil is also a developing country like India but they have around 20 different tracks around the country while we have just one F1 track. Even in karting competitions in Brazil, you can see at least 60 karts lining up which you don’t get to see in India,”

Karthikeyan observed about the humongous turnout seen at the event was a result of it being considered as the next big thing in India, attracting many brand conscious people towards it. He said, “Delhiites are brand-conscious people. So in the inaugural season lots of people attended because that was the ‘in-thing’. This year ticket sales have only reached the 40000 mark till 22nd October according to JPSI.

 Ticket Prices for Indian Grand Prix 2012 are as follows:

Rs 2000: Price of lowest priced single day ticket for 2012 Indian Grand Prix

Rs 12,000: Price of single-day main grandstand ticket (down from Rs 15,000 last year)

Rs 21,000: Price of season ticket of main grandstand (down from Rs 35,000 last year)

95,000: Total ticket sales on Race Day in 2011

Leading Teams in Indian Grand Prix 2012

Sahara Force One (“Desi” Team)

In a largely international sporting event, Sahara Force One is one team that Indian audience can cheer for while watching the race on their TV sets. The team is created by a consortium between Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol who have bought Spykar F1 for an astounding £90Mn.

The team is progressing slowly and steadily and has reached the status of challenging Sauber and Mercedes Team at the recently concluded Constructor’s Championship.

Sahara has bought 42.5% stake in the joint venture during October,2011 for $100Mn and renamed the team Sahara Force One.

 Other Leading Teams

Ferrari

President: Luca di Montezemolo

Team principal: Stefano Domenicali

Technical director: Pat Fry

Drivers: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa

Team Budget: Approximately $259.1 million

Williams

 Team principal: Frank Williams

CEO: Alex Burns

Technical director: Mike Coughlan

Drivers: Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna

Team Budget: $104.1 million approx.

Stats of Indian Grand Prix 2011

 

Venue: Buddh International Circuit

Circuit length: 5.125km/3.324miles

Laps: 60

Race distance: 307.249km/190.161miles

Lap record: Sebastian Vettel 1min 27.249secs (2011)

2011 pole position: Sebastian Vettel 1min 24.178secs

2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Number of corners: 16 (7 left/9 right)

Tyre compounds to be used: Hard/soft

Bumpiness: low

Overtaking chance: medium

Engine severity: medium/high

Brake wear severity: high

Average lap speed: 206kph (128.002mph)

Full throttle per lap: 64 per cent

Gear changes per lap: 58 (race = 3480)

2011 winning strategy: 2 stops (laps 19 & 47)

Total race pit stops: 46

Total ‘normal’ overtakes: 4

Total DRS overtakes: 14

Number of safety cars last year: 0

Source: Times of India, Daily Mail

Photos: TOI, Vehicle Passion, Zee News, India Times, Telegraph, Carxpertsindia, Mercedes AMG

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