Indian Formula 1 Grand Prix: First Impressions of Buddh International Circuit

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IOctober 29, 2011

NOIDA, INDIA - OCTOBER 29:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Sauber F1 drives during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit on October 29, 2011 in Noida, India.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The first shots have been fired at the Buddh International Circuit, and the first impressions are good.

After three practice sessions and qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, we have finally had a look at how this brand new ground-breaking circuit will behave.

At first glance, it appears to be a typical Hermann Tilke effort: straights followed by slow corners, some sweeping fast and medium speed corners.

It looks fun to driver, and the drivers have been very positive, but it’s what happens during the race that counts.

Certainly, the track has yet to deliver any major surprises.

Red Bull, predictably, qualified fastest and secured the record-breaking 16th pole position for the year with Vettel securing his 13th moving him to equal second for most pole positions in a single season.

McLaren and Ferrari were very close behind.

The thing that sets this track apart from the Tilke norm is the changes in elevation.

It looks like it should be conducive for overtaking, with wide corner entries following long, fast straights.

The problem is that the track has only been finished for a few days and is insanely dusty and made worse by the fact that the run-off areas are even dirtier still.

The result—overtaking will be difficult.

The two DRS zones that have been will help tremendously, but going off line will be difficult for drivers as the the dusty track will make braking very difficult.

In all, there is a very real chance that we’ll have another race in which the start, pit strategy and how well the drivers have looked after their tyres will play more of a role than how well they race on the track—which used to be what this sport was about.

Perhaps fittingly, however, India has delivered something that I don’t recall ever seeing before at an F1 track—and not the dog on the track five minutes into the first practice session.

The incident in question occurred as the chequered flag final on the final qualifying session.

Felipe Massa was on his final flying lap and managed to hit an extra section of higher kerbing designed to stop drivers cutting corners on the inside of Turn 8.

The impact destroyed the front-right suspension of Massa’a car, delivering the Brazilian and his Ferrari into the barrier.

The logic of having a disincentive to kerb-hopping is obvious, but installing something so severe that it rips the wheel off a car is overkill and seriously needs to be addressed before Sunday’s race.

The Indian Grand Prix remains a mystery that will not be revealed until race day. Early indications are that it will be similar to the other Tilke tracks, however, the double DRS zones may just make a difference.

We’ll know in 24 hours.