Indian GP this weekend

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India has unveiled the new $400 million Buddh International Circuit, promising to dispel the disappointing memories of last year’s Commonwealth Games, which had unfinished venues and massive budget overruns and the smell of corruption.

The Commonwealth Games were meant to showcase India’s status as an emerging global power, but instead, “The Commonwealth Games forced us to bow our heads in shame,” said Manoj Gaur, chairman of the F1 circuit promoters, the Jaypee group.

Buddh International Circuit Buddh International Circuit

In case you missed it, following the “lead” of Singapore, the fans will also be treated to other entertainment at the new F1 circuit, including the first-ever performances in the country by US heavy metal outfit Metallica and pop sensation Lady Gaga.  (Glad I’m not going!)

Manoj Gaur said tickets for the race were close to being sold out, except a few corporate boxes which range between 3.5 million rupees (THB 2.1 million) and 10 million rupees (THB 6.5 million).

Threats by some local groups of farmers to disrupt the race if their demands for better compensation in exchange for their acquired land were not met have been dismissed.  “We have worked here with complete co-operation from local people.  We are more than hopeful of hosting a peaceful race.  It will be 100 percent successful,” said Gaur.

The track has 16 largely medium speed corners where F1 cars will lap at an average speed of 210 km/h.  The back straight will let F1 cars reach 320 km/h making it one of the fastest tracks in the world.  The expected F1 car lap time is 1 minute 27 seconds.  A grandstand with a capacity of 13,000 will overlook the turn 10 and turn 11 giving the F1 fans an opportunity to be a part of the action.

For the future of F1 in India, let us hope it is a success.  The owners of the two year old circuit built for the Korean GP are already making noises that they need the annual fee reduced, as they are losing too much money.  However, I doubt if Bernie will be answering the phone.

I will be watching from my usual perch at Jameson’s Irish Pub, Soi AR, next to Nova Park for the Grand Prix.  We will be gazing at the huge screen, with BBC coverage and no breaks for adverts.  Now, important – with the time differential between here and India, the race on Sunday starts at 4.30 p.m. Thai time.  Qualifying on the Saturday is 3.30 p.m.  Join us for lunch and a couple of jars before the red lights go out, and stay for the post-race discussions and try the weekend specials.