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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Formula 1 in India !!!!

Weary after their long flights from different parts of the world, most of the 24 drivers are still getting used to F1's newest destination. But for at least one of them, a long-cherished dream is on the verge of coming true. 

"I didn't ever think that I would get a chance to race in India. That cherished dream of driving in front of my home crowd is finally going to come true. The track looks magnificent with plenty of overtaking opportunities and run-off areas to provide enough safety," Narain Karthikeyan said here on Thursday. 

This might be India's first foray into F1 but the nation itself is no stranger to the world's most technologically advanced sport, which seems to have taken most in the paddock by surprise. India, after all, was supposed to be only a cricket-crazy nation. 

Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn told TOI: "India, for us, is a fascinating new country. People comment on what F1 coming to India will do for the economy, but if we don't come here how can we help in the development? F1 can, in a small way, help in the development of the nation. What amazes me really is the knowledge people have about F1. Talking to fans and the media one is astonished at the following F1 has in this country. India as a nation is rapidly progressing in the area of technology and that's why they are lapping up Formula One." 

Brawn's views were echoed by McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton , who was making his fifth visit to the country in the last two years. "Coming to India, people would think that cricket is the No. 1 sport but that's not the case. F1 has a huge fan base as I witnessed in Bangalore a couple of weeks back where as many as 40,000 people turned up," Hamilton said. 

'Dirty' track welcomes drivers 

The facilities might be fantastic but the track itself is quite dirty and could be an area of concern for drivers going out first at 10 am for the practice session on Friday. "The track is quite good and the organisers have done a super job getting this place ready in such a short period of time. But like any new track there is some dirt and dust on the track. I hope they can clean it today and tomorrow morning and let's wait and see how the circuit turns out," Williams driver Rubens Barrichello said. 

The Brazilian veteran, with 323 race starts under his belt and 18 years experience, didn't waste time in engaging in some friendly banter with countrymate Felipe Massa of Ferrari . "I have got this F1 game at hope and already notched up over 100 laps on it at home," said Barrichello. 

Massa was quick to chip in: "He is racing seven hours a day at home." Barrichello retorted by saying that Massa himself was hooked on to the game for more than five hours every day, adding, "We meet each other on these games quite often and he (Massa ) was the one who introduced me to it. My wife is more p**** d off at him and not me!" 

On coming to India for the first time in a career stretching close to a decade, Barrichello said, "Obviously, I have never had the chance of coming to India. So it's great that through my job and sport I am getting the opportunity to explore a new country." 

For Michael Schumacher, though, it was a whole new challenge in his 20th year in F1. "I have just seen the safety car run through the paces here. There were some elevation changes, some blind spots and it will be quite a challenge for us with high and low speed corners," Schumacher felt.


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