It’s a big weekend for Formula 1 as we head to the Buddh International Circuit for the first ever Indian Grand Prix.
Both Championships may have already been taken by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, but with the inaugural race taking place in the world’s second largest populated country, the win is bound to be highly coveted.
It’s hard to know what to expect from a circuit no one has driven on, but the signs are there that it will be a good one. Drivers walking the circuit have all commented on the fast corners with long sweeps.
Overtaking should be good too, with a track that is 20m wide.
Most importantly, there is quite a bit of gradient which is different from the usual flat modern F1 track. Up and down with quick corners blending into one another is what gets drivers going, and the simulations show that is what we should expect this weekend.
The track seems smooth from preliminary walks around the track, so tyre wear should not be too bad. Pirelli have brought the hard and soft tyre (instead of hard and medium) for this weekend, which means we should see a big time difference between the two compounds.
This coupled with the fact that tyre wear should be low, should see most drivers starting on the soft, then stop two or three times before a short stint at the end of the race on the hard tyres.
Teams must run their drivers in the race on both compounds, and the time loss per lap on the hard tyres will negate any advantage by doing a stop less and using the hard tyres at the beginning of the race.
Red Bull may have won the last race, but we have seen an upturn from McLaren. Their updates certainly have worked and if Hamilton had not lost 10 points of front down force, I feel he would have won at Korea. He will start as my slight favourite over the Red Bulls this weekend.
As for the rest of the field, we will see them experimenting with different settings and updates with an eye on next year’s cars. All except for Sauber and Force India, who are in a close fight for 6th place in the championship.
Also expect there to be a lot of focus with Force India as it will be their home Grand Prix.
It also will be a good weekend for Narain Kathekeyan as he races for the first time in his HRT in front of his own countrymen. With all this local interest, Formula 1 couldn’t have hoped for a better entry into the Indian market.