The Big Preview: Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit
23 October, 2013
If Japan’s Suzuka, scene of Sebastian Vettel’s strategically astute ninth win of the season, is regarded as one of the greatest of Formula 1’s classic circuits, this weekend sees the championship move to a track that has been widely praised as one the finest of more recent additions to the calendar – India’s Buddh International Circuit.
The location for round 16 of the 2013 F1 World Championship features good changes of elevation, two long, fast straights and a technically challenging middle sector that features the tricky multiple apex Turn 10. The circuit has quickly proved popular with the sport’s drivers, who appreciate it having the second highest average speed of the year after Monza, but also the skill required to hook up a good lap around its 5.125 km length.
Getting that perfect lap requires a car that treads a very fine line in balancing the speed needed to get the best from the long straights and good aerodynamic grip and balance for the middle sector.
Vettel’s victory in Japan, his fifth win in a row this year, has given him a 90-point advantage over Fernando Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship and with the Ferrari driver all but conceding defeat in the wake of the race at Suzuka, this weekend could see Vettel crowned Champion. The Red Bull driver needs fifth place or better here to become just the fourth driver in F1 history to win four titles and only the third to win four in a row – alongside Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
Meanwhile, in the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing have 445 points, compared with 297 for nearest rivals Ferrari, so the Milton Keynes-based team can this weekend also conceivably wrap up the manufacturers’ title.
Buddh International Circuit Data
- Length of lap: 5.125 km
- Lap record: 1:27.249 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2011)
- Start/finish line offset: 0.251 km
- Total number of race laps: 60
- Total race distance: 307.249 km
- Pitlane speed limits: 80 km/h throughout the weekend.
Changes to circuit since 2012
- Other than routine maintenance there have been no significant changes.
- There are two DRS zones at the Buddh International Circuit. The detection point of the first is 16 m before Turn Three and its activation point is 350 m after Turn Three. The second zone’s detection point is 10m after Turn 15, with the activation point 36m after Turn 16.
Indian Grand Prix Fast Facts
- This will be just the third running of the Indian Grand Prix. The race joined the F1 calendar in 2011.
- Sebastian Vettel has not only taken pole position and victory in the two Indian GPs staged so far, he has also led every lap of each race. Last year he also finished in P1 in every practice session. Red Bull Racing have locked-out the front row at both runnings of the grand prix, with Mark Webber second on the grid in 2011 and 2012.
- At this season’s most recent race, in Japan, Vettel recorded his fifth victory in a row this season. The last time a driver recorded five or more successive wins was in 2004, when Michael Schumacher won the opening five races of the season. The Ferrari driver then went on to win seven in a row between the European and Hungarian GPs that year, so Vettel will need to win here and in Abu Dhabi to match that feat.
- Depending on your view, the outright record for consecutive wins belongs to Alberto Ascari, who recorded nine in a row between the Belgian Grand Prix of 1952, the third of eight races that season, and the same event the following year, when it was fourth on a calendar of nine races. On the way to that tally, however, he did not compete in the 1953 Indianapolis 500, which formed part of that year’s F1 World Championship. To match Ascari’s tally, Vettel will need to win all the remaining rounds this season.
- Vettel’s 2011 pole position gave Red Bull a record 16th in a single season. It was the 28th of Vettel’s career. Since then he has been on pole a further 14 times.
- Apart from Vettel, the only other driver to feature on both Indian GP podiums is Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver was third in the inaugural race, and second last year.
- Jaime Alguersuari scored the last points of his F1 career to date in the first grand prix here. Over a 46-race career, beginning at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, the Spanish driver racked up 31 points in total driving for Toro Rosso. The final four points of that tally came with eighth place at the Buddh International Circuit in 2011.
- This will be the first Indian GP without an Indian driver involved. Narain Karthikeyan raced in 2011 and 2012 for HRT, while Karun Chandhok participated in free practice for Team Lotus (now Caterham) in 2011.
- To cope with the demands of the Buddh International Circuit, F1 tyre supplier Pirelli is this weekend bringing its Soft and Medium tyre compounds. This is a change from the previous two years, when the company brought its Soft and Hard configurations. Soft and Medium tyres have been used this season in China, Germany and Hungary.
- Despite being built on relatively flat land, the track has had plenty of undulations built in, with more than four million tonnes of earth moved during the construction of the circuit. The track rises 14 metres between Turns One and Three alone.
Indian Grand Prix Statistics by Reuters
- Four different teams have won the 15 races so far this year (Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes).
- Triple Champion Vettel has taken nine wins in 2013. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg have won two races each. Lotus’s Raikkonen and Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton have each won one. Vettel has won the last five races.
- Vettel has 35 career wins, Alonso 32, Hamilton 22, Raikkonen 20 and McLaren’s Jenson Button 15.
- Ferrari have won 221 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 43.
- Red Bull can win both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in India.
- Vettel has a 90-point lead with 100 points still available to be won. If Alonso wins the race on Sunday, Vettel need only finish fifth to clinch his fourth successive title.
- Alonso must finish in the top two to have any chance of keeping the championship alive to Abu Dhabi.
- If Alonso finishes third and Vettel fails to score, the German’s lead would be cut to 75 points with 75 still to be won. However, Vettel would take the Championship on race wins since Alonso cannot match his tally even if he wins the last three.
- If Alonso retires from the race, Vettel will instantly win the title regardless of whether he finishes or not.
- At 26, Vettel will be the youngest quadruple champion.
- Only three other drivers have won four titles: Germany’s Michael Schumacher (seven), Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio (five) and Frenchman Alain Prost (four). Schumacher and Fangio are the only ones to have won four in a row.
- In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull have 445 points to Ferrari’s 297 with a maximum of 172 still to be won.
- Mercedes have been on pole eight times in 15 races. Vettel has taken six, and team mate Mark Webber one.
- Vettel has 42 poles to his credit and is third in the all-time list (Schumacher had 68 and Ayrton Senna 65). Hamilton has 31 and Alonso 22.
- Alonso has not been on the front row in the last 24 races, with his last appearance being his pole position in Germany in July 2012. He has not been on pole in a dry qualifying since 2010.
- Caterham and Marussia have yet to score a point after three seasons in F1.
- Mexican Esteban Gutierrez’s seventh place in Japan made him the first and so far only rookie to score points this season.
- Vettel is the only entrant to have started on pole in India and the only to have won there (2011, 2012). He has also led every lap in India and last year was fastest in every practice session.
- Red Bull have swept the front row in qualifying in both previous races.
- Alonso was on the podium in India in 2012 and 2011, the only driver other than Vettel to do that.
- Force India are the first and only Indian-owned team but have never had an Indian driver. There are no Indian drivers in this year’s race.
- Sauber principal Monisha Kaltenborn was born in the Indian city of Dehradun and lived in the country until she was eight.
- Pirelli are expecting two stops to be the norm. After bringing Hard and Soft compounds for the past two years, they have switched to Medium and Soft as a more aggressive choice.
- Vettel’s win in Japan was his fifth in a row. The last driver to do that was Schumacher in 2004. The Ferrari driver went on to win seven in a row that year.
- The record of nine wins in a row was set by Italian Alberto Ascari in 1952/53.
- McLaren have still not been on the podium this year. The last time they went through a season without finishing in the top three was in 1980.
Indian Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies
- Dr Gerd Ennser has successfully combined his formal education in law with his passion for motor racing. While still active as a racing driver he began helping out with the management of his local motor sport club and since 2006 has been a permanent steward at every round of Germany’s DTM championship. Since 2010 he has also been a Formula 1 steward. Dr Ennser, who has worked as a judge, a prosecutor and in the legal department of an automotive-industry company, has also acted as a member of the steering committee of German motor sport body, the DMSB, since spring 2010, where he is responsible for automobile sport. In addition, Dr Ennser is a board member of the South Bavaria Section of ADAC, Germany’s biggest auto club.
- Englishman Steve Stringwell brings a wealth of experience to the F1 stewarding panel. He began marshalling in 1967 before spending 15 years rallying. Since 1986 he has held a series of posts within the UK’s Motor Sports Association, first as a steward, then chairman of the MSA’s national court and latterly as chairman of the MSA’s Judicial Advisory Panel. Stringwell serves as permanent chairman steward for the Porsche Supercup, World Series by Renault 3.5 and BTCC. He has been chairman of support race stewards at the British Grand Prix since 2005 and was appointed steward to his first F1 race last year when he officiated in Australia. At home in Yorkshire he is a Justice of the Peace and magistrate in the city of Leeds.
- Denmark’s Tom Kristensen is the most successful driver in the history of the Le Mans 24-Hour race. He has won the classic endurance event nine times, racing for Porsche, Audi and Bentley. Kristensen, 46, has a broad racing CV, having competed in single-seaters, touring cars and a range of sportscars. He has also tested in F1. A popular and respected figure, he is this year again contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving for Audi Sport Team Joest. Along with team-mates Loïc Duval and Allan McNish, Kristensen has already helped Audi retain the WEC manufacturers’ title. He and his team-mates currently lead the drivers’ title race, with two rounds of the championship remaining.
Subbed by AJN.