Just days until Formula 1 returns to the track and to India, for the second time. Are the teams, drivers, tire manufacturers, etc. excited? Judge for yourself:
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2011 Qualifying – 13th, 2011 Race – DNF
“India is enjoyable because it’s so different and the track is one of my favourites. It’s still a new track but it has a good combination of medium and high-speed corners, chicanes and good changes in direction. Coming to the final few races, making the most of our cars potential is going to be important, so hopefully we can score points here and put ourselves in a strong position for the final three races.”
Bruno Senna, Williams
2011 Qualifying – 14th, 2011 Race – 12th
“I’m looking forward to this weekend because India has a different atmosphere to many other Grands Prix and it’s always a unique place to visit. As a new track the surface is very smooth and the layout is fast and flows well with some high speed corners which will suit our car. We should therefore be looking to improve on our performance in Korea.”
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
“On the back of a disappointing result in Korea the team have worked extremely hard to address the balance inconsistencies that affected both cars. We believe that we have found a solution and look forward to testing and optimising around the updated car. The weather forecast in Delhi is good with predicted dry running throughout the weekend in reasonably high track temperatures and, as ever, the aim is to keep both the Pirelli hard and soft tyres within their optimal working window throughout the weekend.”
Remi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
“The first part of the track is mainly composed of straights, including an awesome 1.12km straight, the longest on the calendar. Unusually this straight dips in the middle. The second part of the track is a lot more intricate, with all the corners linking together, so driveability will be very important. The challenge will be getting the right balance between the responsiveness needed for the off-camber turns, such as the chicane at turns 13 and 14, and longer corners such as the radial turn 10, which need a steady application of power. At the start of the weekend dirt on the racing line and pollution within the atmosphere can have a detrimental effect on air filter performance, so this will need careful monitoring during P1 and P2.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
“There was an amazing atmosphere and an extremely warm welcome at the Indian Grand Prix for us last year, so we’re all looking forward to going back. This year we know a little more about the track so we’ve made a less conservative choice, with the hard and the soft tyres striking exactly the right balance between performance and durability. The circuit layout is one of the toughest that our tyres will face throughout the second half of the season and it’s also the last time that we will see the hard and soft combination this year, which was previously used in Barcelona, Britain and Japan – which gives you some idea about the demands of this circuit. The Buddh circuit has been specifically designed to encourage overtaking, which is also one of the objectives behind the design philosophy of our tyres, so we should be set for an action-packed race at a crucial point in the championship.”
Jaime Alguersuari, Pirelli test driver
“I think that the layout of the Buddh circuit is one of the best in Formula One, and it also happens to be one of the toughest on the tyres. I’ve got good memories of the track personally too: last year I finished eighth after a good qualifying as well. You get this interesting combination of low, medium and high-speed corners, as well as long straights. A lot of the corners are quite unusual: for example we have a chicane right at the end of the lap that we take in fifth gear, which doesn’t happen very often! What puts the biggest stress on the tyres in India is the fact that many of the corners are very long, so there is a sustained lateral load with some fast changes of direction as well. You need all the grip you can get and there is a risk of graining as well if you do not manage the tyres properly. The hard and the soft tyres are a very good choice here – the hard will be perfect to race on – and I think that a one-stop strategy could be possible if you look after the tyres in the correct way.”
Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 4th 2011 Race – 2nd
“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 Three and Four 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.”
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 5th, 2011 Race – 7th
“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 Four, 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, McLaren team principal
“Our two weekends in Japan and Korea weren’t particularly prosperous. But while fortune certainly didn’t smile on Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 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 One calendar – the circuit is well regarded by all the drivers, there is a natural fanbase eager and ready for Formula One and there is terrific market potential within the entire continent. I am a big believer in the value of the Indian Grand Prix.”
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“India is a brand new place for me. Like with Korea, I’ve never been to the country before which means I’ve never seen the circuit properly. I’m not like other drivers, so I haven’t driven the simulator to learn it, but all in all it’s not that much of a tricky situation. I like to go to different places and the challenge of driving a new circuit is always interesting. So far I’ve learnt tracks after a few laps in FP1 on Fridays. I didn’t have any problems learning the Yeongam circuit that way, and I don’t expect to have any issues here either. As for India, I have never visited the country before… I have certainly enjoyed Indian restaurants in almost every country I’ve been to though!
“We know this circuit is likely to be very dusty at the start of the weekend so that will make things interesting for the first practice sessions. We’ll have some new things on the car and it will be our second time with the new exhaust system so hopefully we can make more gains with our pace. India should also be pretty hot which should suit us. I’m looking forward to it.”
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“I was at the circuit with the team last year in my role as third driver and it was fascinating to see Formula One come to a new venue like India. The track is very impressive, in the middle of what will be a massive facility. The layout looks very interesting, with some slow corners and high speed sections as well. I’m sure it will be a great track to drive and I’m looking forward to unlocking its secrets so it can go into my portfolio!”
James Allison, Lotus technical director
“(Korea) was a solid debut for the Coanda (exhaust) system and we will see both Kimi and Romain using it in India. We were reasonably pleased with how it performed on its first outing. We knew that our first implementation would be a little power hungry, but we hoped for – and were delighted to register on the track – a good downforce boost. Our initial design was already a step forward relative to the previous system, but we expect more from this package as we modify the exhaust to recover much of the lost power. Romain used a new front wing in Korea which has proved to be a mild step forward and will be available to both drivers in India.
“Last year India was the track with the most important racing line in the world, with any deviation from that line punished pretty severely as the surface was very dirty. This year the circuit organisers have invested in impressive track cleaning equipment the likes of which we see in Bahrain, so matters should be somewhat different. We’ve learnt that it’s a pretty challenging circuit and a good test for both the car and driver with a bunch of nice corners. It’s a typical modern Formula One track and an interesting place to go racing.”
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 2nd, 2011 Race – 4th
“It’s a challenging venue and I really enjoy the track, it’s a nice circuit to drive. There was a massive crowd there last year and it was a good atmosphere. The track is similar to Korea with mainly long straights in sector 1 followed by a very busy sector 2 and 3, so we need to get the balance right between downforce and top speed. It should be reasonably straightforward weather-wise and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 1st, 2011 Race – 1st
“I loved the track layout last year, but not just because I won the race. With an average speed of 235km/h, the course is the second quickest of the year after Monza. There is a lot of elevation change around the lap which adds to the fun, from as much as 8 percent downhill and up to 10 percent uphill; it’s like a roller coaster! It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers.”
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 11th, 2011 Race – 5th
“The Formula One debut of India last year was certainly a success. There were a surprising amount of fans during the weekend, and the track itself really is cool. We drivers were given a very enthusiastic reception, and it will be interesting to see if this enthusiasm has remained as strong. After two races which have not been totally satisfying, we naturally wish for a more positive trend to come, and I can say that everybody in the team has put in a lot of effort to achieve it. Let’s see what we can make out of it.”
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 7th, 2011 Race – 6th
“The Buddh International Circuit is very challenging with an interesting combination of slow speed corners and long fast straights. The track also has one of the highest average speeds in Formula One and is good for overtaking. Last year I was really impressed by the passion and friendliness of the Indian people so I’m looking forward to visiting again and having some more interesting experiences. I hope that I will have a bit more luck than recently next weekend, and I will have the chance to achieve a good result.”
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“Next week will see Formula One’s second visit to India following the inaugural Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in October 2011. This year, our team is very pleased to be partnering with Airtel, title sponsors of the race, and we look forward to sharing our Indian Grand Prix experience with them. It’s always a pleasure to welcome new fans to our sport, and Formula One certainly seemed to capture the imagination of those who came to the circuit last year. The facilities are very impressive, and the track proved a good challenge for the drivers.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“After a successful inaugural race last year, we are all excited to return to the Buddh International Circuit for the second edition of the Indian Grand Prix. We received a warm welcome from a very enthusiastic public last year and it was impressive to see the prestige Formula One enjoyed with the people on its first visit to India. Following two long straights, and one shorter one, the circuit offers a challenging flow of corners from turns 5 to 15, especially the long right-hander at turns 10 and 11. This puts high loads through the front-left tyre, while the expected temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius will also make for additional challenges.”
Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a
“Just like Korea this will be a new circuit for me and all I know of it is from the work I did on the simulator last year. From what I know it’s an interesting circuit with a lot of medium and fast corners where we will have two DRS zones. It will be interesting to see how the asphalt has evolved from one year to another because last year it was brand new and quite dirty. I must admit that, overall, it’s a circuit that I like the look of. We hope to have solved the reliability issues which we suffered in Korea and complete another good race here.”
Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2011 Qualifying – 24th, 2011 Race – 17th
“Obviously this is the most anticipated race on the calendar for me and there is already a great buzz around the event. The layout of the Buddh International Circuit is a great mix which makes it challenging for the tyres as there are very few conventional straight-forward corners but since the surface isn’t abrasive at all, wear shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve got great memories from last year’s Grand Prix as I had a great weekend; the car was good and we were quick. I hope this year things go even better and I can dedicate it to the fans who are showing me so much support. I can’t wait to get out on track!”
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
“Personally I’ve never been to the Buddh International Circuit but I’m eager to see it because I’ve heard great things about it, being a very complete track. We’re looking forward to it because of Narain, who will have all the fans backing him throughout the weekend. It’s a very special Grand Prix for him and we hope to put in a good performance and for him to complete a good race like last year. Pedro has never driven there and will have to adapt first but he’ll definitely lean on Narain’s experience from last year. Our target is to have good reliability and finish the race with both cars and improve the performance from Korea to reach the level we were at in Japan.”
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – 17th, 2011 Race – DNF
“I am keen to see what the circuit will be like when we arrive there for the second time. Last year everything was new and the surface was very dusty. The track lay out as such should probably mean our performance will be average, which means we should be able to score points there. It is a bit similar to the Korean circuit, which might have something to do with the fact the same designer did it at about the same time. Unfortunately I haven’t seen much of the country yet. What I really love is Indian butter chicken – an Indian classic dish and one of my all-time favourites. Perhaps this year I can manage to go and visit the city of New Delhi, but it is quite far away from the track and, as it is so big, it is not easy to get your bearings there.”
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – 20th, 2011 Race – 10th
“I cannot believe we have only four races left, so the season will now end quite soon. To make up 20 points to finish fifth in the constructors’ world championship means we have quite a job to do. The race in India should be a bit better for us than in Korea, and our car will be quicker there. I like the fluent sections of the track. Outside the circuit I haven’t seen anything of the country yet and I know that, unfortunately, I won’t have time for a trip this year either.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal
“For me the second Formula One Grand Prix of India certainly will be a very special race. Going to my home country, not for private but for business reasons, and for the team to race in front of my fellow countrymen is exciting. This is the emotional part of it. Looking at it in a more sporting way, it is clear we want to score a lot of points, be it in India or at any of the remaining four races. Technically the track in Greater Noida should not be a problem for the C31, but it isn’t our favourite either. We have to stay focussed and maximise our potential there.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“The race track in Greater Noida has similar characteristics to the one in South Korea. It has a first sector with long straights and slow-speed corners, then there is the mainly high-speed second sector, and a short third sector with some low-speed corners. Maybe the main difference is that the track in India has some slopes while the track in Korea is flat, and in India there are some bumps as well. The temperatures are expected to be higher, but also the tyres are harder – the compounds will be hard and soft, and I expect the hard one to be a challenge on this type of track. An interesting aspect compared to most of the other races this year is the fact there will be two DRS sections with two detection zones, which should normally help overtaking. We are fairly confident our car will perform well on this track.”