Drivers praise India’s ‘Spa-like’ Buddh circuit

2012 Indian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton praised India’s F1 circuit as “a revelation” as F1 prepares for its second Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.

“Most modern tracks have a very similar feel,” said Hamilton, “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.”

Jenson Button compared the home of the Indian Grand Prix to another much-praised track, Suzuka:

“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 [Circuit of the Americas] 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.”

Sebastian Vettel, who won the inaugural race at the circuit last year, also lavished praise on the track: “With an average speed of 235kph (146mph), 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% downhill and up to 10% uphill; it’s like a roller coaster. It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers.”

*NB. The fastest lap of the track last year was Vettel’s pole position time of 1’24.178, an average of 219kph (136mph). That was the seventh-fastest pole position time of 2011, behind Monza, Silverstone, Spa, Suzuka, Melbourne and Istanbul.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on “Drivers praise India’s ‘Spa-like’ Buddh circuit”

  1. Hm, seems the drivers like it. Now lets hope the Indian public turns up as well and best would be if we could have a bit of a race for the lead this time around, I would hate to get into a Vettelull race.

    Being second fastest and 7th fastest is quite a big difference, not sure where Vettel got his numbers from, but it probably shows how it feels fast driving it, I guess that is a positive as well.

    1. I liked to see last year’s grand stands.

    2. Now lets hope the Indian public turns up as well

      Just curious, and maybe Keith has input on this: if a venue like the Indian F1 circuit massively undersells seating, come race day, will they bus in a bunch of lower-caste people from the countryside (or round-up all the locals who fit a certain demographic) and give away the tix to get them into the stands and make it look good (read, “full”) for the TV audience?

      Or are the organizers barred by contractual obligation to FOM from ever giving away tix to fill grandstands, b/c doing so would 1) **** off the people who actually paid full-price for their seats; and 2) lower the overall value of the seats and (rightly or wrongly) suggest that the tickets were over-priced from the start?

      1. @joepa, I think it won’t be required to do anything of the sort for the Indian GP… the stands will be full with more than decent crowd… the event has been built up and marketed vey well in India and while not many Indians may be true motorsport or F1 fans, they will go for the interest and buzz generated… I happen to be an employee of the title sponsor of the race and this year the marketing is even more than last year, much much more intense….
        As I have been following F1 since the last decade, it was a no brainer for me to attend the first race last year… I was in East stand on Saturday and lucked into Paddock Club pass for Sunday… and was very happy to see the filled up grand stand opposite, although yes, I do feel the grand stand tickets are slightly overpriced, but there is definitely a class of people who can afford those (and the organisers did offer a discount for race day at the last moment)… but neways, I feel these are the people who can afford to initially generate an active interest in motorsport…
        also, India has firmly moved on over things like low-caste people and such…

        1. Thanks for the thoughtful, considered reply.

          Leaving aside Indian GP then and speaking more generally, would promoters ever give away tickets at last instance to try to fill otherwise empty stands, or are they prevented contractually from doing so?

          1. @joepa I don’t think so. U can’t give off tickets to rural ppl. Gotta maintain ‘class of the crowd’. And India has moved on from the caste, etc. we have no discrimination here in atleast 75pc of India.

          2. Thanks for the follow-up. Sorry regarding the lower-caste comment – I was thinking of Nepalese caste system…

          3. @joepa can’t blame you. Unfortunately, The western media especially BBC focus only on the negative aspects of our country. We send an orbiter to the moon that finds traces of water, yet BBC ignores it. They focus only on corruption and poverty which are present in every nation. @nomadindian

  2. get your numbers right, seb!

    1. @magon4 He (or perhaps a PR person who wrote that bit) seems to still be going off Red Bull’s simulator time from last year.

    2. I have nothing against the Buddh circuit, it’s great to see F1 racing in India and I think the track is one of the best Tilkedromes. But it’s a disgrace that the race previews are mostly made of senseless PR stuff and that the interesting facts that occasionally appear there are incorrect.

      1. Buddh was dust bowl last year and drivers were just afraid to go off the racing line maybe because they just compleled the track a week before the race and its dirty.Hope its bit clearner this time around so we can see drivers taking different lines and lot of overtake..track is challenging to drive but last year race was pretty boring

  3. I’m not surprised that the drivers love it. It’s a genuinely lovely circuit, and if last year’s crowds are anything to go by, extremely popular!

  4. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the lay out when we first saw it, and it is fun to drive on the Codies F1 series, even if the straight between turns 3 and 4 does go on forever. I do have high hopes for the Circuit of the Americas as it has a similar fel to the Buddh Circuit, again goign by the Codies games and circuit diagrams.

    That said I’d still rather have 1 Spa than 10 Buddh’s! ;)

    1. I do have high hopes for the Circuit of the Americas

      Mario Andretti likes it. I believe the word he used was “phenomenal” after driving it at the circuit opening.

      1. Glad to hear it, if it’s got his seal of approval it has to be good.

  5. Personally I’m not a fan of this circuit. Turns 5 to 9 are pretty good, but the rest of the track doesn’t do anything for me.

    1. Agreed, still far too many awkward Tilke corners.

    2. I like most of it a lot, except 3 and 4 (onto and off of the huge straight). The straight is boring and those >90 degree corners are too samey feeling (turn 16 is also the same).

  6. I seem to recall drivers raving about Yas Marina upon their first visit … that said, they didn’t get excited about the idea of racing there a second time. And looking at the back half of the circuit in India, you can at least understand why the drivers might like it.

    1. I remember Raikkonen being highly uncomplimentary about Yas Marina (and deservedly so).

      1. Webber has never been a fan of Valencia. It’s easy to see why, driving round a glorified car park cannot be fun.

        1. At Cesars palace in, the track was the car park

      2. Well at the drivers parade at Yas last year Hamilton raved about Yas Marina. So I guess it takes all sorts…

        1. Webber, Hamilton, Yas Marina (Abu Dhabi), Valencia (Spain), huh?

          This is about Buddh (India), what’s the link (apart from F1 or Tilke in general?)

          1. Well, it’s the question whether driver’s praise actually means anything, or is it just PR talk.

          2. Exactly what @maroonjack said.

          3. Gotcha, thanks for the clarification. A fair point but I think we also need to consider these guys are ambassadors for F1.
            I think it’s to be expected that they speak positively about the theater in which they play.
            Would you watch a show where the participants are rubbishing the venue?

  7. I will wait to see what Webber and Raikkonen have to say. Other drivers follow the PR line. But if these two also say they like it, then we do have a good circuit.

    1. No need to wait for Webber” (of course Kimi hasn’t driven it yet):

      “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.”

    2. Whether a circuit is good or not depends on what you think, not what certain drivers think.

  8. I hear that’s an element that’ll be carried over to the new [Circuit of the Americas] track at Austin, too.

    That is painfully scripted and PR ish…but I do like this track, especially the last sector!

  9. Something worth remembering about this circuit is that it was the 1st circuit where Tilke asked for driver & team input on its design.

    The turns 6/7/8/9 section was designed using feedback from Karun Chandhok, The track was opened up & the entry to several corners based off driver input, The banking at turn 10 was altered after drivers tested it on team simulators & the camber at 12/13 was changed off the same feedback.

    The upcoming circuit of the Americas was designed in a similar way, By getting feedback from teams/drivers & from the circuit owners.

    Something else that should not be overlooked is that Jean Toft & Charlie Whiting have relaxed some of the FIA circuit design regulations. For his newer designs Tilke will have a lot more freedom because of this so in theory at least he shoudl be able to design more interesting/exciting circuits.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      22nd October 2012, 14:56

      I heard they were going to put a hairpin where turn 6 or 7 was.

      1. Don’t think it was going to be a hairpin but the original design did have turn 5 as a tighter corner to encourage overtaking.

        When asked Karun Chandhok suggested from 5-9 should be a faster, more technical section & he helped come up with that section.

        Believe the turns 12/13 chicane was also originally tighter & off camber through the 1st apex but after the driver feedback ended up been opened up to make it a more technical/flowing section.

  10. Love the photo.

  11. It is a fun little track with a number of tricky enough corners. Seems cosy!

  12. I’m delighted the drivers like this new circuit. But I can’t recall last year’s race as being particulalrly spectacular. Can anyone remind me how the F1Fanatic fans rated the race?
    And so Keith, it would be a real bit of fun to compare the driver’s opinions of a track to the fans rating of races there. Can you imagine the drivers really enthusing about a track that returns really poor race ratings? I can certainly imagine the opposite – a track generally loathed by the drivers producing great races from the fans’ point of view.

    1. Well Monaco hasn’t produced espescially great races in recent years, but the drivers love it…

    2. I can’t recall last year’s race as being particulalrly spectacular. Can anyone remind me how the F1Fanatic fans rated the race?

      It’s a bit hard to judge, because it came right after Vettel waltzed away with the championship, and it was his first Grand Chelem. It was really a race to see who came second, since first was a foregone conclusion.

  13. I agree, it’s a spectacular layout. I actually have a particular love for the turn 5/6/7 combo, immensely technical set of corners; and then turns 8-14 are thrilling.

  14. In a Formula 1 car, the track is a great drive. It’s not PR crap.

  15. I think Seb’s average speed numbers are not consistent with the kind of speeds clocked at last year’s race, primarily because of two factors.

    1. Dusty track, due to the fact that construction had just finished and there were no dusting machines. Many lawns have been developed in and around the track, which should decrease the dusty nature. Also dusting machines have been put into service.

    2. The more important factor was the very very conservative tyre choice from Pirelli last year. I remember a comment from the Pirelli man, Paul Hembery after last years race, saying that the hard tyre could have lasted for three races. Thus the softer tyres of 2012 should mean a considerable drop in lap times.

    Though I will agree Seb’s average speed of 235kph will be very tough to get, as it means a lap time of about 9 secs faster than last year’s fastest lap in the race. But even so, I think average speeds will rise to above 225kph.

  16. Reducing the dust off the track should encourage overtaking. Maybe a reappraisal of the DRS system as well.

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