The latest pictures coming out of the new Buddh International Circuit, home of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix that was to be held on the last weekend in October, shed an interesting light on the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The pictures, published on the F1Times website, show a facility that looks to be far from ready and perhaps gives rise to questions as to whether the reinstatement of the Bahrain race doesn’t have a measure of face-saving for Indian officials.
One could certainly question the motives of Vijay Mallya, part owner of the Force India F1 team and Indian representative on the World Motor Sports Council, who voted in favour of the date change for India and reinstatement of the Bahrain GP on the now-clear October dates.
With FIA president Jean Todt telling anyone who would listen that the decision to reinstate Bahrain was not commercially motivated, we are left curious as to what the motivation really was.
Why couldn’t the race be reinstated next year if everything is now super-happy in Bahrain?
What could possibly warrant the shuffling of a carefully arranged schedule? If it’s not commercial, could it be that India won’t be ready?
Watchers of Indian sport will doubtless be aware of the habit of delivering major infrastructure projects at the very last minute.
The Indian Commonwealth Games, held in 2010, saw officials receive harsh criticism for the lack of readiness and testing of the facilities prior to the Games’ opening. History tells us, everything went well in the end, but not without some serious tension along the way.
The athletics track was being repaired on the morning before competition was due to start.
The athletes' village was in such poor condition that there were threats of boycotts less than two weeks out from opening ceremony.
But, in inimitable Indian style, everything worked out okay.
Fast forward six months and we have a similar situation at the start of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Only a few weeks prior to England’s opening game, the venue was shifted from Kolkata to Nagpur—a trifling distance of 1100 km (690 miles)—because the Eden Gardens ground would not be ready in time.
Too bad for the fans who had pre-booked travel and accommodation.
Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which hosted the final, was facing fire safety issues only weeks out from the big day.
Again, everything was all right on the night.
The pictures coming out of the Buddh circuit show facilities in a remarkably similar condition to those that we saw before the Commonwealth Games and Cricket World Cup.
There is clearly a massive amount of work still to be done, but this is India and they’ve shown time and again that they can do it.
But the extra couple of months won’t hurt!