So, we are hosting the second edition of the Indian Grand Prix and are now respectably placed on the Formula One calendar. The five red lights that will go out to signal the start of the second edition of the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday will also mark India’s consolidation in the field of hosting the premier motor racing event in the world. Before some facts about the current race, let’s have a brief look at how last year’s race went. The Indian Grand Prix 2011 was won by Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing, whose timing for the race was 1:30:35.002, followed by Jenson Button of McLaren-Mercedes and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. In fact, Vettel also clocked the fastest lap of the race at 1 minute 27.249 seconds. The only Indian driver, Narain Karthikeyan of HRT F1 finished at 17th place and Indian team Sahara Force India’s driver Adrian Sutil stood ninth. Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar waved the chequered flag to end last year’s race. As far as the track—the Buddh International Circuit—is concerned, the participants loved it, especially the elevation changes that add to the fun. In fact, Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber told FE in a recent interview that the BIC is different because of its mix of challenging as well as top-speed sections. “There is a lot of elevation change around the lap which adds to the fun, from as much as 8% downhill and up to 10% uphill; it’s like a roller coaster. It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers,” he said.
Though last year’s race went smoothly with no major accidents, the run-up to the race wasn’t that smooth. First, a few weeks before the race, Indian customs officials demanded import duty on the necessary items that are generally imported by participants before the race and stored in a bonding facility near the track. Although the issue was sorted out—since after the event the items are packed and sent to the next Grand Prix destination—the news did take away some of the positives that come with an event such as Formula One. Then there were talks on whether Formula One is a sport or simply ‘entertainment’ and do we really need it. But the Indian Grand Prix went well and we saw a record attendance of just under a lakh spectators. Additionally, hotels and airlines