India circuit information
|Lap length||5.125km (3.185 miles)|
|Distance||60 laps (307.5km/191.1 miles)|
|Lap record*||1’27.249 (Sebastian Vettel, 2011)|
|Fastest lap||1’24.178 (Sebastian Vettel, 2011)|
|Tyres||Hard and Soft|
*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix
F1 was warmly embraced by India on its first visit last year. The drivers raved about the track, which was deemed a cut above the usual modern circuits.
Heading into the year’s race the championship is much closer, though recent events have swung it in Vettel’s favour. The big question this weekend is whether Ferrari and Fernando Alonso can offer any resistance to Vettel’s march towards a third world championship.
Pirelli erred on the side of caution ahead of last year’s race, bringing the hard and soft tyres. It turned out the harder compound was capable of completing at least one race distance.
Nonetheless Pirelli will bring the same allocation this year, though both compounds are softer than they were last year.
“The surface isn’t abrasive at all,” said home driver Narain Karthikeyan. “Wear shouldn?óÔé¼Ôäót be an issue.”
Indian Grand Prix team-by-team preview
He dominated the first ever race at Buddh International Circuit last year, scoring his first ever perfect result by winning from pole position, setting fastest lap and leading all the way.
But for all the team’s recent success his championship lead is a slender six points, and he needs to keep making the most of the advantage he has to shore up his lead over Alonso.
Persistent reliability problems have dogged McLaren in recent races. What they need above all else is a clean weekend.
If they can do that, the combination of the MP4-27 and its two world champion drivers (enjoy that while it lasts) should allow them to reclaim the second place in the constructors’ championship they lost to Ferrari in Korea.
Alonso finally surrendered his hard-won advantage in the drivers’ championship to Vettel in Korea. Ferrari are puling out all the stops in their effort to take it back and tried out a raft of new components in a straight-line aerodynamic test last week.
But as ever with Ferrari, the crucial question will be whether these updates work as planned. Recall the strange sight of Massa’s front wing shuddering at speed during practice in India last year as the team struggled to get to grips with its latest upgrade.
After the last two races Rosberg has a simple objective for this one: survive the first lap without being hit.
The team haven’t scored in the last two races, coincidentally, the two since Hamilton announced he will be driving for them next year. But Buddh’s long straights should give the W03 the chance to play its strong card: the straight-line speed boost from its Double DRS.
For the second weekend in a row the Lotus drivers are at a track which neither of them have driven on before.
The Coanda exhaust introduced in Korea produced a gain in performance, though it came at the expense of straight-line speed, indicating the team still have some progress to make with this upgrade.
But Force India have come on strong in the second half of the season. Nico Hulkenberg grabbed attention with an excellent run to sixth in Korea.
The prospects of a home podium for the team are slim – the best they’ve managed thus far a pair of fourth places aided by retirements in Belgium and Singapore.
The second half of the lap at Buddh with its high-speed corners should suit the C31 fairly well. The long straights at the beginning of the lap less so.
The team are in with a slim chance of taking fifth in the constructors’ championship off Mercedes, but haven’t capitalised sufficiently on their rival’s recent misfortunes.
After a quiet start to the season the Toro Rosso drivers have been increasingly regular visitors to the points since the summer break, particularly Ricciardo.
Vergne did not run in the practice session here last year, so he’ll be starting from scratch with this track.
Williams believe they have found a solution to the balance problem that affected their car in recent races and led to a no-score in Korea.
Giedo van der Garde will have another chance to drive for the team during free practice.
Kovalainen admitted the team are now focussed not on their rivals ahead but those behind them: “The guys behind us are putting up a good fight and, while we have clear air between us on track, we need to make sure we keep that gap, and, where possible, take advantage of anything that happens ahead.”
Glock is another driver who’s enthusiastic about racing in India: “It’s a fantastic track,” he said. “As soon as we did our first practice runs at the Buddh International Circuit last year, I enjoyed it straight away.
“There are so many special sections to the track, especially turn three, which is a very extreme corner. You have to completely turn into the steering wheel, followed by a very long straight.”
2012 driver form
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2012 Indian Grand Prix
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Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images, Sahara Force India F1 Team, HRT