The Buddh International Circuit received a resounding thumbs-up from the teams and the drivers after last year’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix. It proved to be a technically challenging racetrack that contained several overtaking places.
One of the circuit’s key features is its undulating back straight, along which the cars are flat-out for 15s. There are also some fast chicanes around the lap and the 180-degree, double-apex Turn 10/11 has a minimum speed of 130mph/210km/h. Through this banked right-hander the drivers pull up to 4g for four seconds. There are plenty of elevation changes too, after four million cubic tonnes of earth were moved during the construction of the circuit. The track rises 14 metres between Turns 1 and 3 alone and there are several blind corner entries that require pin-point accuracy from the drivers.
As in Korea two weeks ago, car set-up at the Buddh International Circuit will be a delicate balance between straight-line speed and cornering grip. There was a huge amount of evolution in the track surface over the course of last year’s race weekend and, given that the asphalt hasn’t been used much in the intervening 12 months, the engineers expect similar improvements this year.
Both McLaren drivers finished in points-scoring positions at this race last year, Jenson Button coming home second and Lewis Hamilton seventh. Both men are aiming for the podium next Sunday.
“Through no fault of my own, my weekend in Korea was a wasted opportunity - but it’s already far behind me, and I’m really looking forward to these next two back-to-back races. The Indian Grand Prix went well for me last year - I had an absolutely straightforward drive, running second from start to finish. It’s a circuit I like: it has a good feel to it, and you can tell it’s quite different from the normal places we visit. There are a couple of unusual factors: firstly, the approaches to Turns 3 and 4 are incredibly wide - almost like a motorway - in order to stimulate different lines into the corner and encourage overtaking. I hear that’s an element that’ll be carried over to the new track at Austin, too. Secondly, the combination of Turns 10 and 11 is also pretty special - it’s a huge, bowl-shaped double-apex right-hander, a bit like Spoon at Suzuka. It’s unusual for a new circuit to have such fast corners, and it’s really enjoyable when you get the car hooked up through there - the lateral g feels great. I think we can have a good weekend there - I’m already looking forward to it.”
“I love India - the people, the colour, the noise, the spectacle, the chaos: it’s an intense and vibrant country, with some of the most enthusiastic and friendliest people we meet all year. The circuit, too, is something of a revelation. Most modern tracks have a very similar feel; you find that the same driving style and rhythm suits them all. But the Buddh International Circuit is different: it has more in common with a great track like Spa than it does with any number of the more modern places we visit. And that’s because it’s got an incredible flow - basically, from Turn 4, a wide-apex right-hander that sweeps downhill, the track is just a series of fast, rolling curves which really allow you to put the car absolutely on the limit. I didn’t have a particularly tidy weekend there last year: but I feel I’ve been driving better than ever recently - even if the results haven’t quite shown it - so I’m headed to India determined for another good result. I think we’ll have a car that’s a match for the circuit and I can’t wait to get out there and start practicing on Friday.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal
“Our two weekends in Japan and Korea weren’t particularly prosperous. But while fortune certainly didn’t smile on McLaren during those two races, it’s proof if it were needed that no team or driver is immune from tides of good or bad luck. Of course, luck flows both way, and I’m positive that, after two disappointing races, this next double-header will be a more profitable affair for Jenson, Lewis and the whole team. I think the Indian Grand Prix has the potential to become a classic event on the Formula 1 calendar - the circuit is well regarded by all the drivers, there is a natural fanbase eager and ready for Formula 1 and there is terrific market potential within the entire continent. I am a big believer in the value of the Indian Grand Prix.”