Buddh International Circuit

India’s F1 track: Another cookie-cutter circuit?

2011 Indian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Buddh International Circuit
Buddh International Circuit

Straight, hairpin, straight, hairpin. Twiddly bit and back around again for another lap.

It was Korea last and it’s India next: the scenery changes but the tracks don’t.

Does the Buddh International Circuit, scene of the first ever Indian Grand Prix this weekend, offer anything to distinguish itself on F1’s increasingly homogeneous calendar?

Last week Sebastian Vettel raised the prospect of India’s circuit being one of the quickest in F1.

Red Bull’s simulator indicated an average lap speed of 235kph, suggesting a lap time of around 1’18. But tyre manufacturer Pirelli’s predictions are rather more conservative, estimating a 1’27 lap with an average speed of around 210kph.

Based on Pirelli’s estimates, here’s how the Buddh International Circuit compares with the other 19 circuits on the original 2011 calendar:

Lap length

2011 F1 circuit length
2011 F1 circuit length

Lap time

2011 F1 circuits lap times
2011 F1 circuits lap times

Indian Grand Prix lap time based on estimate by Pirelli

Average speed

2011 F1 circuits average speeds
2011 F1 circuits average speeds

Indian Grand Prix average speed based on estimate by Pirelli

Maximum speed

2011 F1 circuits maximum speeds
2011 F1 circuits maximum speeds

Indian Grand Prix maximum speed based on estimate by Pirelli

Number of corners

2011 F1 circuits number of corners
2011 F1 circuits number of corners

On the face of it the Buddh International Circuit looks entirely typical of modern F1 tracks: roughly five kilometres in length with the usual combination of long straights leading into slow hairpins, plus some medium-speed corners.

Its layout has much in common with other recent additions to the calendar such as Yas Marina, Korea, Istanbul and Bahrain. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Without wishing to judge the track before it’s even held a race, it’s impossible to ignore the conspicuous lack of imagination in modern F1 track design – whether you choose to blame ubiquitous designer Hermann Tilke, or the safety and commercial restrictions he is constrained by.

We see far too much of circuits that “have a bit of everything” and, consequently, have nothing that marks themselves out from other new tracks. As the graphs above make clear, it’s the classic old venues such as Monza, Spa and Monaco that provide the extremes on an otherwise increasingly homogeneous calendar.

But this will matter little if the Buddh International Circuit provides exciting race. We’ll find out if it can on Sunday.

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140 comments on “India’s F1 track: Another cookie-cutter circuit?”

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  1. I know you made other points Keith, but those bar graphs would have Melbourne and Nurburgring as “cookie-cutter” circuits too.
    While I usually have a strong distaste for Tilke-designed circuits, I like the look of India. It seems promising and I’m optimistic for an enjoyable circuit, not just an enjoyable race.

  2. Admittedly, the circuit has got Herman Tilke written all over it, however, I shall reserve judgement until this weekend is over.

    Ultimately it depends on for what reason you enjoy Grand Prix racing. You won’t catch me complaining about a circuit conducive to a lack of over-taking because I can still take pleasure in it regardless. Having no particular allegiance helps as well!

    The orientation of the tarmac plays a vital role, but no more vital than tyres, aero configuration, gear ratios or the weather. I believe it all boils down to the action over one day and how the millions of variables come into play.

    Remember, China is currently topping the rate-the-race charts with Monza towards the bottom half!

    Six of one, half a dozen of the other if you ask me.

  3. Yas Marina is nothing like Istanbul so how can India possibly be like both of them?

    1. As I said in the article, in terms of their structure.

      You have an ‘overtaking bit’ – a couple of long straights leading into slow corners – and a ‘twisty bit’, usually made up of rather perfunctory and often slow corners.

      Istanbul at least has the saving grace of turn eight and some gradient. Yas Marina has a hotel and a silly pit lane exit.

  4. Poor Chandok will be sitting on the sidelines watching the race from the pit garage. However, the Indian GP looks set to be a good ‘race’ and not a procession like the ones we have at the Valencia, Hungaroring, Monte Carlo etc. With 2 DRS zones and some hairpins, expect some real racing around BIC. Let the 5 lights go out!

  5. For all the billions of pounds he is given, Tilke simply cannot grasp how a half second gap looks whilst going round a tight 55mph hairpin leading onto the main ‘overtaking’ straight. I’ll give him a clue- it means your front wing is jammed right underneath the car ahead’s rear wing, robbing it of 100% of its downforce. He didn’t grasp this concept when he brought us Abu Dhabi, and now he’s done it again, in fact twice in succession on this circuit. One really has to wonder whether he actually watches F1 – he is such a terminally slow learner for someone with about 10 times more experience of F1 circuit design than anyone else…..

    The tricky final turn at the A-1 Ring in Austria – *that* is how you make a corner leading onto a long straight for setting up overtaking.

  6. Anyone want to backflip yet?

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