New Delhi, New Dawn - the Indian Grand Prix takes shape

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Scott Webber, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Scott Webber

    Scott Webber

    It takes two hours to drive the 57.4 kilometres from New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport to the Jaypee Green Sports City Project - and the newly named Buddh International Circuit - that from October 28-30 will host the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. During those two hours, transported (if you’re wise) by taxi or chauffeur, you’ll experience an intense snapshot of emerging, aspirational India straining to release its one billion population from the shackles of poverty and crumbling infrastructure, and lift them into a modern technological age.

    The new and the future will book-end your journey, from the 21st-century temple that is India’s busiest airport (steel, glass, a shrine to a sub-continent’s ambition), to the work-in progress that is Sports City.

    In between, just a turn from highway to byway, you’ll encounter the teeming India of lore, on the fringes of New Delhi: a pair of working elephants hauling logs fight for road space with Tata lorries and Mahindra trucks; an overturned Tuc-Tuc jamming the middle lane reminds you of the parlous state of Indian road safety; a tap-tap-tap on the window as you slow for a red, leaves you staring destitution in the face - a dusty street kid saying ‘please’ and making you intensely self-conscious about the two-grand camera on the back seat.

    Inequality in India is nothing new, of course, and the arrival of Formula One later this year will throw the extremes into sharper relief than ever. But it is precisely because of what Formula One has come to represent that it has been courted by a variety of private and state Indian bodies - among them Kingfisher billionaire Vijay Mallya, owner of the Force India Formula One team, the New Delhi Municipal Council, and the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India (FMSCI).

    For an economy now recognised as one of the world’s three most strongly emergent, alongside China and Brazil, Formula One racing represents both an affirmation of the country’s present position and a statement of intent. As Mallya observed last year: “India’s economic growth, its young and aspirational demographic and the growing popularity of F1 make it one of the most attractive future destinations for a high-technology-driven and fantastically-competitive sport. It is a matter of pride that India is on the F1 calendar.”

    It’s reckoned that the new Formula One circuit, located on brown-field land in Greater Noida, about 50 kilometres south-east of central Delhi, will generate approximately $170m in income, mostly for local hotel and tourism industries, and provide up to 10,000 jobs.

    The investment required to make this happen is massive - an estimated $300 million (€220 million). But a 10-year race deal has been granted, during which period that outlay will be recouped, while the sheen of Formula One brings with it many intangible benefits such as national prestige and global exposure for a host nation. Also very handy is F1’s web of international business links.
    Before any of this can be made real, however, come the practicalities: the bricks and mortar of circuit construction, and, on this particular day, preparations for an important visit from a man without whose say-so India’s motor-sport dream cannot be realised.

    That man is Charlie Whiting, FIA Formula One race director, a fellow of the FIA Institute and the individual ultimately responsible for ensuring that all F1 circuits on any given season’s calendar meet the strict safety standards needed to satisfy homologation requirements - the governing body’s seal of approval. From the newest, such as this New Delhi track, or recent F1 additions South Korea and Abu Dhabi, to such long-established classics as Monte Carlo, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, all have to be up to FIA ‘spec’ to host a grand prix.

    However much investment has been made, however much political will there is for a Grand Prix to happen, only once a circuit is homologated is it deemed fit for purpose. And as was seen last October in South Korea, the granting of an FIA seal of approval can never be taken for granted. The Yeongam circuit was only skin-of-the-teeth ready and organisers had to rely on Whiting’s goodwill for an extension to their deadline for the final pre-race circuit inspection. Homologation was eventually granted only 10 days before the event.

    He was the calm at the centre of a South Korean typhoon in those closing weeks, determinedly fulfilling his brief of ensuring that a prestigious new facility was F1-ready, even as frantic last-minute preparations went on all around, and the deadline pressures of the race calendar schedule - not to mention the small matter of staging an event that would play a crucial role in the outcome of the 2010 world championship - grew ever more intense.

    As is (almost) always the F1 way, however, the Grand Prix went ahead, Whiting having been satisfied that the Korean International Circuit’s racing facilities, at least, were ready, even if the same could not be said for many of the other buildings in the architects’ plans.

    Today in Noida, where Whiting is greeted with predictable effusion by a clutch of circuit officials, there’s another beautiful architects’ vision to study: an intricately detailed 3D model of the circuit, its buildings, a nearby cricket stadium also planned, and the two lakes that will be landscaped in. But there’s some tension in the air because this is a big day for the Tilke GmbH architects who have created the circuit design, and the Jaypee Group engineers who own the land on which the circuit is being built and who are in overall charge of construction.

    Check out the rest of the story at the official F1 Site, don't miss out as you'll see the new released Pictures.

    Official Story

    Part One - Part Two
  2. Zdravko Anticic

    Zdravko Anticic

    Its layout looks a bit too much like kyalami...
    Look it up
  3. David Chardar

    David Chardar

    It looks pretty boring.
  4. Ross Balfour

    Ross Balfour
    #99 | Roaring Pipes Maniacs

    Uh they never learn, slow corners before long straight = no passing; just look at Valencia
  5. David Chardar

    David Chardar

    Yeah but that's Tilke's favorite gimmick, don't expect anything good from any new circuit while he's around.

    I like to think of Tilke as the Uwe Boll of F1
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