A change of backdrop, from the windy waterfront along Marine Drive to the concrete and glass sentinels at Bandra Kurla Complex, is unlikely to lessen the buzz around Lewis Hamilton’s drive in his MP4-27 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car on Sunday evening. Mumbai’s corporate hotspot, as BKC is now known, will be overflowing with F1 addicts and followers as the Briton hits the road for three laps along both sides of a designated 1.5km stretch.
Far away from the meticulous, yet maddening world of Formula One racing where team work is paramount, Hamilton may find relative calm amidst the commotion at a motorsport promotion. The Monza GP winner is here to entertain FI fans with his skill handling the MP4-27 on tarmac, offering a glimpse of the upgraded version of last year’s car MP4-26. The Briton’s razor-sharp performance at the Italian GP has put him and McLaren upbeat about Singapore GP next weekend.
The BKC ride on Sunday marks Hamilton’s second visit to Mumbai (karting in 2008) before an audience tuned in to F1 due to the Indian GP, especially the younger lot enjoying Formula One’s weekend high on television. The Briton can expect questions from the motorsport fans about the much-debated move from an established, successful setup like McLaren to Mercedes and the situation which drove him to think along those lines.
Hamilton’s drive at BKC, as part of the Speedfest, is just one big step in the effort by Vodafone to make F1 accessible to Indian followers. Sunday’s street racing at night is expected to set the pace for roadshows on a bigger scale in India, featuring high-profile names from other teams. The McLaren Mercedes ace (142 points) is presently placed second on the FIA F1 Drivers World Championship list, behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (179).