Indian Grand Prix Preview

By on Thursday, October 27, 2011

F1 drivers with young Indians - New Delhi, India

(By Ali Unal)

Being 69th circuit on which at least one Formula 1 race was held, Buddh International will host the inaugural Indian Grand Prix this weekend. Designed by Hermann Tilke but tweaked by circuit officials to promote overtaking, circuit has 16 corners and has a tremendous 14m elevation change between Turn 1 and Turn 3. Buddh is expected to be the second fastest track on the calendar after Monza with two high long stretches. Now this is interesting: Red Bull fact sheet shows an average speed of 235km/h for this circuit, but other teams’ figure are less than that. One and first thing to keep in mind before the weekend begins, I assume.

There seems to be two or more overtaking spots, with two of them being the slow corners and hard braking zones after long straights, Turn 1 and Turn 4. Lotus Renault Gp fact sheet, however, points out Turn 3 and Turn 16 as possible overtaking zones as well. The first sector mostly consists of two long sectors, accompanied by three slow corners, hence engine power and traction will be of premium importance for that sector. The second sector has flowing corners, direction changes, a bit like Mangy Cours and a very long corner, a bit like Turn 8 in Turkey. Here downforce and strong front end will be needed by drivers. Especially for Turn 10 and Turn 11, there will a high risk of understeering just like turn 12 and Turn 13 in Shanghai circuit before the back straight. Third sector is very short, having just four turns. Lotus Renault says, “Turns 13-14 require good change of direction from the car. Here, the car needs to be stiff to ensure a receptive response.”

Sebastian Vettel - Thursday, Buddh circuit

As we have two long straights, brakes will have enough of an opportunity to be cooled. Apart form high braking zones at Turn 1, Turn 4 and Turn5, brakes will not be severely tested throughout the lap. As for the tyres, teams and the tyre supplier will go to an unknown. For that, they brought soft and hard tyres, a choice which we haven’t seen since Silverstone. I remember Pirelli saying that hard tyres came out too hard so they won’t be used in this season. Apparantly their visit to India to take surface moulding a month ago didn’t go well, so they decided to go for a conservative approach, a stark contrast to what they did in Korea. What is more, they also changed the way they allocated tyre compounds. Instead of giving 6 sets of prime and 5 sets of options tyres, they brought 6 sets of option (that is being Soft compound) and 5 sets of prime tyres (being Hard compound), so teams will have extra set of option tyres on Friday to learn track better. I wonder they use it to test 2012 aero parts tho.

As suggested earlier, FIA has announced there will be two DRS zones. The detection zone for the first zone will be at the exit of turn 15, with chasing drivers then able to pass down the pit straight. The second zone’s detection point will be on entry to turn 3, with activation between turns 3 and 4. Therefore, if a driver is passed in the first zone, if he can keep it together, he will have a chance to reclaim the place back. I hope it won’t turn out to be dog fight for each lap, everyone passing one another.

Now that both championship has decided, top teams will go out and test 2012 solutions. With Top 5 in WCC standings nothing but certain, a real race is going to be between the midfielders, such as Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India as the 6th place is up for grasp. Toro Rosso has managed to leap forward with a big upgrade on their exhausts, so they will be very competitive in India, while Sauber seemed to go backwards in Korea and will face a tough race by Toro Rosso and Force India, who is currently holding that very important 6th place. Lotus seemed to be alone in its fight for 10th spot but team decided that there might be a risk losing it, so they sticked to their original line-up instead giving Karun a seat and reaping Indian sows, that resulted a very frustrated Indian and a very busy BBC pre-race show crew, I’d imagine. At least, Lotus gave Karun FP1 drive, so he can deal with it.

There are lot of tweets going on about track’s condition, power outages and windows-less toilets and commentary boxes. Martin Brundle took a picture of his booth and said he won’t be able to do his job properly from this place. There are some concerns that power might not be adequate come race day as there was power outages during Thursday press conference. Track seems to be very entertaining and promising, so anything other then racing will not be the main topic of this weekend.

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