McLaren previews the Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit 21 October, 2013 The Buddh International Circuit is one of seven racetracks on this year’s Formula 1 calendar to have been designed by Hermann Tilke. It’s located in the province of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, near to the country’s second largest city, New Delhi. The circuit cost US$ 215 m to build and was finished in October 2011. The track provides a significant technical challenge to the teams. A high top speed is vital along the undulating back straight, but there’s also the need for good traction out of the circuit’s four second-gear corners and high-speed stability through Turn 10, a banked double-apex right-hander that has a minimum speed of 250 km/h. The circuit’s varying topography adds to its driving challenge. More than four million cubic tonnes of earth were moved during the construction phase, with the result that the track rises 14 metres between Turns One and Three alone. Several corners have blind entries as a result. As with many of Tilke’s new circuits, the asphalt at the Buddh International Circuit is very smooth. Tyre degradation is minimal as a result, which is why most drivers were able to complete last year’s 60-lap race with only one pitstop. It’s also hard for the drivers to generate tyre temperature over one lap in qualifying, which is why Pirelli is taking softer-than-average rubber compounds to India. For the fourth time this year, the combination of Medium and Soft tyres will be made available. Jenson Button finished second in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011 (see below) and he set fastest lap in last year’s race. Both he and his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Sergio Perez will be aiming for points in next Sunday’s race. Jenson Button: “This is such a great racetrack – it’s fast, flowing and challenging. It’s pretty technical too, which is quite unusual for a fast circuit, but the flow from one corner to the next means that positioning the car is quite critical if you don’t want to fall out of the rhythm and lose time. Track positioning is also important because several areas of the circuit are extremely wide, and narrow down from corner-entry to exit. The long back straight will once again make it important to balance the car’s gearing and downforce for maximum speed with DRS. That straight, and the braking zone into Turn Four, are probably the most straightforward places on the circuit upon which to overtake. In fact, the rest of the circuit is quite fast, with only a single racing line, so trying to get past during the rest of the lap is pretty tricky. The last few races have shown that, realistically, we’ll once again be fighting for the minor points. Still, I enjoyed my races in Korea and particularly Japan – where it was both satisfying and unusual to be armed with fresh tyres and able to pick off cars on older rubber, as opposed to the other way round – so I’ll be looking to take the fight to some of the faster cars once again next weekend.” Sergio Perez: “I love travelling to India – it’s such a rich and vibrant country, and always an eye-opening place for any visitor. “The Indian Grand Prix has been an interesting and exciting event for the past two years – I really think it’s starting to make its mark on the country. It’s well attended, and the crowds seem interested, enthusiastic and passionate – that’s always great to see. After two tricky races in Korea and Japan, in which I had good pace but just seemed to suffer a whole range of misfortune, I’ll be hoping for a smoother ride in the next flyaway double-header. It’s been frustrating to see decent results slip away from me, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to turn things around quickly. With the race skipping a year for 2014, I hope we can help make this year’s event particularly memorable. We know we don’t have the machinery to fight the top four teams, but there’s always fierce competition around the fringes of the top 10; scrapping for points might not be what Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is all about, but it’s nonetheless satisfying to nail the set-up and the strategy and drive a perfect race. That’ll be my aim again this weekend.” Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “There is little rest for our personnel as we quickly turn ourselves around from a fortnight in the Far East and prepare for this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix. While we didn’t possess the machinery to enable us to fight the top four teams at either of the last two events, I think we can be pleased from an operational standpoint – despite issues that affected both drivers in Japan and Korea – most notably a broken front wing and two punctures – we were strategically efficient, and were able to deliver some consistent finishes for both Jenson and Checo. Equally, I must also single-out praise for both drivers: it’s been a difficult season, but they have each remained calm, measured and dedicated – they have been a motivational force for the entire organisation, and I am very proud of the way they’ve responded. The Indian Grand Prix has quickly developed into an important Formula 1 event – it’s popular and well attended, and the next few years will be critical if the sport is to establish a foothold in such a vast territory. It’s been pleasing to see the enthusiasm that Indian fans have for our sport – and our love for their country is reciprocated – and I would love to see the race grow in significance over the coming years.” A #mclaren50 moment: Indian Grand Prix, 30 October 2011: The inaugural Indian Grand Prix is a race of mixed fortunes for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Jenson Button extracts the maximum from his MP4-26 to finish second to Sebastian Vettel, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton is demoted to the lower echelons of the top 10 after a collision with Felipe Massa. Lewis’s weekend gets off to an unfortunate start on Friday when the race stewards penalise him for a yellow flag infringement during practice. They dock him three grid positions, which results in him lining up in fifth place – one place behind Jenson. At the start, Jenson makes a blinding getaway from the outside of the second row. He out-brakes the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso into Turn one and then turns his attention to second-placed Mark Webber, whom he successfully overtakes into Turn Four. With second place already in the bag on the opening lap, Jenson sets after race leader Vettel and comes home 8.4s adrift of the Red Bull driver. Hamilton, meanwhile, battles his way towards the front and it’s while trying to pass Massa that his race comes unstuck. The pair make contact at Turn Five, ruining both of their races. Massa is deemed to be at fault and is issued with a drive-through penalty by the stewards. However, the damage to Lewis’s race is irreversible; he has to pit for a new front wing and demonstrates great tenacity to climb back to seventh place by the chequered flag. Subbed by AJN.