Race Preview: India

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel won last year’s race at the Buddh International Circuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Past India Winners 

India plays host for the 17th round of the 2012 Formula One World Championship with teams arriving in New Delhi and making their way to Greater Noida and the impressive Buddh International Circuit. With only three races to follow, India marks the beginning of the endgame in the race for Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship glory.

The debut of the Indian Grand Prix was perhaps the highlight of the 2011 season. Buddh proved to a fast, flowing and highly demanding race track, complete with memorable corners and several good overtaking opportunities. This was supplemented by an excited and knowledgeable crowd who replicated the general high level of enthusiasm with which the Indian public greeted Formula One.

Replacing last year’s great leap into the unknown, F1’s second visit to Buddh is heralded by keen anticipation from those drivers who raced here last season. The high-speed turns proved an instant hit, and having had a year to mature the surface is likely to deliver even more grip this time around Ð though potentially at the cost of greater tyre wear.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton, respectively third and fourth in the Drivers’ Championship are quoted as having all-but written off their title aspirations for this year, in effect making the 2012 Drivers’ Championship a two-horse race between Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. With a clean sweep of three victories from the recent races in Singapore, Japan and South Korea, momentum is clearly with Vettel, who now leads Alonso by six points. Alonso, however, has stayed in the hunt all year despite having his chances of a third world championship dismissed by many even before the season began. With 100 points still on the table, he won’t be conceding anything just yet. Standings

Buddh International Circuit

Indian GP Fast Facts

  • This will be the second Indian Grand Prix. The race joined the calendar in 2011.
  • Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the 2011 race was his F1 grand chelem, including, as it did, pole position, fastest lap and victory after leading every lap of the race. Vettel repeated the feat in Japan earlier this month.
  • India is the first country to have its inaugural grand prix won by the reigning World Champion since Michael Schumacher managed the feat in 2004 at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit. Since then F1 has gone to Shanghai, Istanbul, Valencia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Korea without the man with the number one on his car standing on top of the podium.
  • India was Vettel’s ninth and final victory of the 2011 season. He had wrapped up the 2011 Championship two races earlier in Japan. Vettel did not suffer a lack of motivation in the following races, taking pole position in the final two rounds – however a puncture in Abu Dhabi led to his only retirement of the season in the next race, while at the season finale in Brazil, an early gearbox problem meant he had to settle for second behind team-mate Mark Webber.
  • Webber finished second in Korea, following Vettel over the line to make it the first 1-2 finish for any team in 2012. Red Bull Racing achieved it three times in 2011 but 2010 is the last time any other team managed the feat. During that season RBR finished 1-2 four times, McLaren three times and Ferrari twice.
  • Vettel has been leading grands prix for 145 consecutive laps. He inherited the lead from Lewis Hamilton midway through the Singapore Grand Prix and was in first place from lights to flag in both Japan and Korea. He has some way to go before matching the 305 consecutive laps led by Alberto Ascari during the 1952 season.
  • Buddh International Circuit features several challenging changes of elevation – none of which are entirely natural. Some four million cubic tonnes of earth were bulldozed into place during circuit construction.
  • One of the most notable sections of the Buddh International Circuit is the multi-apex turns 10-11. It has been likened to Spoon corner at Suzuka, and also to Turn Eight at Istanbul Park. Unlike both of those it is a clockwise turn.
  • The first 13 races of 2012 were all held of clockwise circuits, while of the last seven races, only Buddh is fully clockwise: Marina Bay, KIC Yas Marina, COTA and Interlagos are all anti-clockwise; Suzuka has a figure-eight layout.
  • Greater Noida is a community town planned in the 1980s, itself an extension of the planned urban region of Noida, incorporated in the 1970s and designed to accommodate the rapid growth of New Delhi. Noida is an acronym, the shortened form of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority, the managing authority of the development.

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