The first Indian Grand Prix was held on 30 October 2011, making it one of the newest Formula 1 races on the calendar.
The Buddh International Circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke. The German is becoming a familiar face in these articles, due to his other recent projects of the Korean and Singapore Grand Prix circuits. The track is situated near Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh and is 5.14km long.
Its capacity originally was 110,000 but there are plans to expand that to 200,000. In 2007 the IOA and Bernie Ecclestone initially announced a deal for the country to host its first race in 2009 at a different location.
A few months later there were more changes, with the location being moved to New Dheli. The year that the track debuted was also pushed back. This was after careful analysis of the time frame, where it was decided that the race would be best suited to debut in 2011.
Indian GP Track and Circuit
Let’s have a look at the track shall we? The start-finish straight is quite short, before leading on to the sharp right of turn 1.
Turn 2 is a flowing left kink, before the cars negotiate the tight turn 3 hairpin. This is a prime overtaking opportunity, before the cars travel on to the usual Tilke designed back straight. Unlike some of the German’s previous circuits, this one features some undulation changes which bring welcome character.
After the long back straight, the cars turn right at turn 4. This corner is unique in that the entry is extremely wide, enabling different lines and overtaking. A short blast of power leads the cars on to the tricky turn 5 (left), turn 6 (another left) and the quick turn 7. The latter two form a fast chicane which is tricky to negotiate.
Another short blast of horse power leads the cars on to the fast chicane of turns 8 and 9. The double apex turn 10 and 11 complex is a long right which tightens at the apex to turn 11. Turn 12 is barely there, before another fast but longer chicane. Moving on to turn 15, which is a medium speed chicane, and 16 where there are good overtaking opportunities. The latter leads back on to the pit straight, with the pit lane entry peeling off to the right half way through the bend.
The circuit received positive reactions from fans and drivers alike. Many drivers praised the challenging layout and the charm due to the undulations and characteristics. Fans also enjoyed it, with plenty of overtaking opportunities which produced good racing. Despite not having a full house in the grandstands for the inaugural race, 90% of the seats were taken.
F1 in India
India has had two Formula 1 drivers during the lengthy history of the sport, with both drivers entering the sport within the last 10 years. Narain Karthikeyan raced for Jordan in 2005 and also raced for HRT in 2011. He became the first Indian driver to compete in a home race after driving for the HRT team in 2011, finishing in 17th place. After some driver swaps, Karthikeyan had been dropped for the midseason but made a return for the event.
Karun Chandhok is also another Indian F1 driver, who made his debut for HRT in 2010. He drove for Caterham in 1 race and a number of free practice sessions in 2011, but was not able to drive a full weekend programme at the event. Instead he drove in the first practice session. Force India is the sole Indian F1 team in the sport, after taking over Spyker for 2008.
India GP Highlights
The first race in India was seen to be a success, with an eventful race and decent crowds. After starting on pole position, Sebastian Vettel retained his lead early on. Jenson Button leaped from 4th to 2nd on lap 1, while there was contact at both turn 1 and turn 3. This resulted in the retirement of Kamui Kobayashi and Timo Glock. DRS proved to an added improvement on the racing, with numerous overtakes happening thanks to the aid into turn 4.
Lewis Hamilton controversially collided with Felipe Massa, for the fourth time in the space of 17 races. Felipe eventually retired with suspension failure after hitting the kerbing at turn 8. Vettel took a comfortable lead ahead of Button, Alonso and Webber. Lewis Hamilton recovered to 7th, with home favourite Narain Karthikeyan finishing 3 laps down in 17th.
After the success of its first Grand Prix, which potentially generated $170 million of revenue and gave 10,000 people jobs, India is also set to host the GT1 world championship, Superbike World Championship and the Moto GP.