The five red lights that will go out to signal the start of the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday will also mark Indias entry into an elite club of countries: those that play host to the premier motor racing event in the world. It was only a matter of time before Formula 1, long considered a rich mans sport, came to India. The sport has had a huge fan base in India for many years now, since the days of Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, and even before. That two Indian driversNarain Karthikeyan and Karan Chandokmade the cut to compete in the races only added to the sports appeal. From the old days of the races being dominated by ultra-rich teams like Ferrari and McLaren, the sport has become much more democratic now, with the competition for the Drivers Championship including many more teams and drivers than before. Much like the excitement Delhi felt before the Commonwealth Games, the city has been buzzing in the run-up to the race. Of course, the fact that international bands and artists, like Metallica and Lady Gaga, are coming is only adding to the festive mood. But what really stands out is that while the excitement over the CWG was marred by the inefficiency and tardiness of the behind-the-scenes organisation, the Indian Grand Prix has so far gone forward without a glitch. So much so that even the motorsports president and CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that the track was set to become one of the best circuits in the sports calender. Even F1 drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher are reportedly thrilled with the track, and cant wait to race on it.
A far cry and a pleasant change from the worries one felt about whether Delhi would be ready for the CWG or not. And definitely a far cry from the shame one felt when it became evident that it wasnt.