New track, different winner? F1 arrives in India

2011 Indian Grand Prix preview

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2011

Hamilton took pole bu Vettel won again in Korea

Will a brand new venue breathe life into a season that has been dominated by one driver and one team?

McLaren have chipped away at Red Bull’s advantage in recent races.

It’s too late for them to change the outcome of the championship but they could stop their rivals ending the season on a high.

Buddh International Circuit

It’s become rare for an F1 season to pass without a new event appearing on the calendar, and this year is no exception.

India’s Buddh International Circuit follows in the footsteps of Korea, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Valencia. It will soon be joined by Austin in Texas, Sochi in Russia and, as we learned yesterday, New Jersey.

India and Formula 1 already look like a good match. There has always been a sizeable contingent of Indian readers on F1 Fanatic, and that has visibly grown in the weeks building up to the race.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54htJVne4_M

The track is wholly typical of the current generation of F1 circuits designed by Hermann Tilke. So much so that some sequences look like they’e been lifted straight from the plans for other Tilke creations such as Istanbul Park.

Though not as flat as some new circuits, much of the gradient is confined to the straights – the corners themselves generally lacking in camber. However the blind-apex of turn three will be tricky.

India circuit information

Buddh International Circuit

Lap length 5.137km (3.192 miles)
Lap time (est) 1’25.0 (208kph)
Distance 60 laps (308.2km/191.5 miles)
Tyres Soft and Hard

India track data in full

The freshly-laid surface is very smooth, but will have little grip, particularly early in the weekend.

There are some promising quick turns towards the end of the lap, and the construction around turns ten and eleven looks particularly impressive. This corner will also put maximum strain on the tyres.

Race strategy will be strongly influenced by Pirelli’s decision to bring their most conservative tyre – the hard compound – to safeguard against any unforeseen problems. The soft has proved impressively durable at most venues this year and consequently Pirelli have brought it to every race.

But the long, fast turns ten and eleven will deal out significant punishment to the front-left tyre. With grip levels likely to escalate throughout the weekend, the race may throw up some surprises.

Pride at stake in final races

With both championships won the teams are increasingly using the final races to prepare for next year. This has been particularly clear at Mercedes and Ferrari, who have tested aerodynamic solutions for their 2012 cars at recent races.

But there are still races to be won and pride at stake. And McLaren’s recent upswing in form raises the prospect of them challenging Red Bull and hopefully giving us a close battle for victory.

After narrowly missing out on pole position in Japan, McLaren finally brought Red Bull’s domination to an end in Korea, courtesy of Lewis Hamilton. Can he again frustrate Red bull’s attempt to set a record 16th pole position in a single season?

Red Bull have made noises about helping Mark Webber take second in the drivers’ championship. Hopefully this won’t mean anything as crude as having Sebastian Vettel pull over and let him pass – F1’s new audience deserves to see a proper race without a manipulated finish.

Ferrari will be relying on high temperatures to help them cope with the harder rubber, as tyre warm-up has been a significant weakness of theirs this year.

Nico Rosberg was unable to keep the Ferraris behind in Korea but restored some of his lost points lead over Michael Schumacher. The contest between the two continues to fascinate – Rosberg almost always ahead in qualifying, but Schumacher making inroads into his advantage in the races.

Behind them the midfield scrap between Renault, Sauber, Force India and Toro Rosso is finely poised.

On pure performance Renault should be comfortably ahead but are having a disastrous second half of the season. They have scored just seven points in the last seven races.

Force India were poised to do significant damage to Renault’s points advantage in Korea – before they were overtaken by the Toro Rossos. The STR6s are much improved following their latest blown diffuser update, and Jaime Alguersuari in particular was very strong in Korea.

India fosters F1 connections

Unlike some of the more recent new locations, some groundwork for F1’s arrival in India has been laid within the sport. The country has direct connections through two drivers and a team.

Force India is based in Silverstone but run by Vijay Mallya. The team is in the best form of its four-year history, on course for sixth – and possibly better – in the constructors’ championship.

There will be a home driver on the grid for the first race in India as well, with Narain Karthikeyan returning to the cockpit for HRT for the first time since he was dropped for Daniel Ricciardo following the European Grand Prix.

Lotus have not succumbed to pressure to put their Indian reserve driver Karun Chandhok in the car for race day, though he will run during first practice.

Chandhok has had some misfortune in his occasional Friday practice outings in the T128, many of which have seen heavy rain and little running. That seems unlikely to be a problem at his home race.

Hot, dry conditions are expected and Pirelli will give teams extra sets of tyres to help them get more mileage at this brand new facility.

2011 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 1.31 1.56 1 4 16/16 Form guide
Mark Webber 4 3.4 2 5 15/16 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 3.56 3.71 1 8 14/16 Form guide
Jenson Button 4.69 3.14 1 6 14/16 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 4.63 3.53 1 7 15/16 Form guide
Felipe Massa 5.69 6.57 5 11 14/16 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 10.44 8.09 4 17 11/16 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 7.69 7.93 5 12 14/16 Form guide
Nick Heidfeld 13.36 8.5 3 12 8/11 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 9.75 10.54 3 17 13/16 Form guide
Rubens Barrichello 14.44 13.15 9 17 13/16 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 13.94 14.67 10 18 12/16 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 12.19 10.36 6 15 14/16 Form guide
Paul di Resta 11.81 11.27 6 18 15/16 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 13.31 10.69 5 16 13/16 Form guide
Sergio Perez 13.57 11.8 7 17 10/14 Form guide
Sebastien Buemi 15.06 11.15 8 15 13/16 Form guide
Jaime Alguersuari 14.63 11.92 7 21 13/16 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.19 15.91 13 19 11/16 Form guide
Jarno Trulli 19.33 16.45 13 20 11/15 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23 20.5 17 24 6/7 Form guide
Vitantonio Liuzzi 22.47 19.73 13 23 11/15 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.63 17.75 15 21 12/16 Form guide
Jerome D’Ambrosio 22.06 18.21 14 22 14/16 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 17 12 12 12 1/1 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 22.88 19.33 18 22 6/8 Form guide
Karun Chandhok 20 20 20 20 1/1 Form guide
Bruno Senna 11.2 13.2 9 16 5/5 Form guide

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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46 comments on New track, different winner? F1 arrives in India

  1. silencer (@silencer) said on 26th October 2011, 12:06

    any official confirmation about DRS zone for this circuit?

  2. Meander (@meander) said on 26th October 2011, 12:26

    I think the track actually looks pretty good! The sweeping corners are reasonably fast, so it should make for some interesting setup and racing :)

    Btw, for some fun, click the play button of the video somewhat in the middle and leave the mouse-pointer there without moving it to race the circuit ;)

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th October 2011, 12:28

    The smart money is still on Vettel.

  4. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 26th October 2011, 12:39

    Hopefully we do see a different winner but looking at the Driver’s form & their performances this season,The Chances of that happening is unlikely & if there’s going to be a different Winner its going to be Webber or Massa,both who desperately need a win or strong result under their belts to prove to their teams that they can still rival their superior team-mates.

    Back to the Circuit;Long Straights,High Speed Corners & Chicanes & a Tyre wearing turn 10 a bit similar to Turn 12 in Barcelona in my opinion.It’s looks as though RB & McLaren are the teams to bit this weekend,maybe even Mercedes coming in the mix as well giving their immense Straight Line Speed,A Decent Grid Position & Good clean start is all they need.

    Really looking forward to India!!! Think it might throw a few surprises

  5. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 26th October 2011, 12:41

    Soichi in Rusia

    Do we still call them Typos but nonetheless Keith,Spelling Correction!!!

  6. Enigma (@enigma) said on 26th October 2011, 12:50

    I love the part from turn 5 to turn 11 – and the whole track seems to be quite good. Hopefully it’s challenging and flowing.

  7. Hyoko said on 26th October 2011, 12:53

    Pardon my ignorance but I’ll ask…

    Turns 10 and 11 are listed as separate but to me it looks more like a multiapex single turn, a bit like the famous Istanbul turn 8 (which I will sorely miss). Or isn’t it?

  8. Burnout (@burnout) said on 26th October 2011, 12:56

    It’s probably been mentioned before but I wonder why Tilke didn’t try making this one a figure-of-eight circuit. A crossover going from the current Turn 4 to Turn 14 and another one from the current Turn 5 onto the pit straight. It would also give the circuit a quickish final corner, something that it lacks in the current config.

    Anyway, I hope it’s an interesting race. Good traction out of Turn 15 could lead to some interesting overtakes on the pit straight. Here’s hoping Mercedes can mix it up with the big three!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th October 2011, 13:43

      There may be rules against figure-of-eight circuits, particularly with the way the flyover is created. The last thing you need is a car getting airborne the way Webber did in Valencia. It’s okay in Suzuka, because the actual flyover is fairly level; it doesn’t rise up specially to cross over itself, and then dip back down. So a lot would hinge on how the actual flyover is built – whether it’s a purpose-built bridge, or a channel cut through a hill.

      Or maybe Tilke just didn’t like the idea of a figure-of-eight circuit.

  9. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 26th October 2011, 13:11

    According to that picture there isn’t a single gravel run off area, that can’t be right can it!

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 26th October 2011, 13:44

    Nice video from McLaren, but I wonder why they bothered with reflecting clouds on the car’s nose when the slowly rotating “Pzeros” are so annoying…

  11. Xenon2 (@xenon2) said on 26th October 2011, 13:52

    Are there definitions of what constitutes Low Speed, Medium Speed and High Speed corners?

  12. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 26th October 2011, 13:53

    Great Summary Keith

    In all the pictures of the track surface I saw so far.. there are lot of dust on the racing line. I may not be surprised if this continues on all the three days of running. I really wish this weekend is a clean one without any incidents. The last two have been so so cruel …..

    My money is on a Mclaren win… Jenson in particular given the way he nurses his tires. Having said that I don’t mind seeing both Mercedes in Top 5.

  13. Jj2691 said on 26th October 2011, 15:49

    YES there are gravel trap see the tweets from @marussiavirgin account. Wait I am attaching the link.

  14. racingfanatic96 (@racingfanatic96) said on 26th October 2011, 17:18

    No doubt Red Bull will dominate but I am certain Mercedes will have a chance to be up there with McLaren. Ferrari will be behind again, and Alonso will continue to complain about Massa

  15. TED BELL said on 26th October 2011, 18:40

    REDBULL one two. Vettel, Webber, Button and Alonso. Hamilton to crash out trying to pass you know who. More of the same….

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