In 2011 when the Formula 1 bandwagon reached the dusty tracks of Greater Noida, the novelty of the occasion—India was hosting a Grand Prix for the first time—helped create hype around a race that didn’t have much consequence. Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull had already ensured that he would be uncorking the Championship champagne at the end of the year and the Indian leg (which a determined Vettel still won), and the remaining three were of just academic interest.
The second edition of the Indian Grand Prix though promises to be mouth-watering. Vettel again leads the championship race but only six points behind him and breathing down his neck is Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. The next two on the points table, Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton, have almost been written off by the race pundits. As the FIA, the governing body of the race, said in the preview of the Indian Grand Prix – “With only three races to follow, India marks the beginning of the endgame in the race for Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship glory.” The two racers’ teams—Red Bull and Ferrari—are also fighting it out for the team glory.
For all F1 followers, some interesting trivia to add drama. (Source – FIA)
• Vettel will be the youngest ever treble champion if he wins the 2012 crown. He will also emulate his German countryman Michael Schumacher by taking his third straight title.
• Vettel has been leading the Grand Prix for 145 consecutive laps!
• The German’s 2011 victory in India was his “F1 grand chelem” (“grand slam”), as he won pole position, recorded the fastest lap and won 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, AbuDhabi and Korea without the man with the number one on his car standing on top of the podium.
• The first 13 races of 2012 were all held on clockwise circuits. While in the last seven races, only Buddh International Circuit is fully clockwise.
At the Greater Noida circuit, despite the early winter nip in the air, the teams are warming up for an explosive weekend. Here are some highlights from a press conference held on Thursday afternoon.
Question: Kimi, your first time in India. What are your thoughts, your impressions?
Kimi Räikkönen: Well, I came last night at one o’clock, so I’ve only seen the motorway and the hotel. The hotel, outside it, looks nice (laughter in the room). I have no complaints so far. The circuit – I haven’t gone around it. That is tomorrow. I’ll tell you about it.
Q: Are you a fan of Indian food?
KR: Yeah, actually I am, if it’s the same as it is in Europe (laughter again). I like it, but you know I have no experience yet of the local food.
Q: Nico [Hülkenberg, of Force India, whose owner Vijay Mallya is in a financial mess, to say the least], There are rumours about concerning your future. Where are you going to go? When do you think you will know?
Nico Hülkenberg: I know there is lots of talk about my future but at this point I don’t want to make a comment on the speculation. I’ll just focus on this weekend, which is the most important thing.
Q: Are things settled? Can you say that?
NH: Just no comment.
Q: To all the drivers, whoever wants to answer: the long straight is something that the DRS was really tailor-made for, although we didn’t see too much overtaking last year. How much overtaking do you think there is a scope for over here?