India is the buzzword in the Formula One circuit right now not just for being the newest venue in the racing calendar but also because of the Taj Mahal, butter chicken and its cricketers.
The leading drivers in the sport and the technical personnel are all excited to get a taste of country’s culture, food and its people.
If Mercedes’ driver Nico Rosberg has already planned a trip to the historic Taj Mahal in Agra, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi can’t wait to have his favourite butter chicken from its original place.
F1 great Michael Schumacher has heard about India as a “fascinating” country and is looking forward to experience the new culture.
Australian Mark Webber from the dominant Red Bull Racing team knows that India have some “fantastic cricketers” and desires to see his country taking on World Champion India some time in future.
With less than a week left for the F1 action to unfold in India, the leading drivers have started focussing on the country as an F1 destination.
Red Bull drivers - the youngest double champion Sebastian Vettel and Webber - are pursuing the remaining three races seriously despite having already sealed both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship.
They have started the preparation for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix through simulator.
“What I know so far is that the track is 5.14-km and is a combination of slow corners and high-speed straights which flow into each other. We’re expecting the track to have the second highest average speed of the season after Monza. That means that we’ll be completing a lap at an average speed of 235 km/h, so there should be plenty of good opportunities to overtake. I’m really looking forward to India. I always do when we drive on a new track,” Vettel said.
Mark Webber said the weather conditions would be challenging.
“We have completed some good simulator work, but in terms of the kerbs and other subtle final details, these will obviously come into place right at the end, so I’d say we have an 85 percent understanding of what the track is going to be like. It’s going to be pretty warm, which is going to be a challenge for the tyres.
“I’ve never been to India before. There are some amazing cricket players from India - it’s their number one sport and I’d love to watch Australia play cricket there someday. I’m looking forward to the weekend,” said Webber.
Team Sauber - local outfit Sahara Force India’s nearest competitor - driver Kamui Kobayashi can’t help himself from getting a bit greedy when it comes to food.
“It will be my first time in India and I’m very curious to discover a bit about the country. Everybody is telling us to be careful with the food. In a way I’m a bit worried about my stomach, but at the same time butter chicken curry is my favourite food and I would love to have it where it comes from,” he said.
Legendary Michael Schumacher, who came out of retirement to join Mercedes, said, “For the next race, we are heading to India for the first time. A country which a lot of people tell me is fascinating. I’m looking forward to experiencing this new culture and seeing the track for the first time.”
Schumacher’s teammate Nico Rosberg is too is excited to discover the Indian culture.
“This will be my first visit to India, and it will be very exciting for me to discover the new culture. I am planning to spend a few days in the country and looking forward to doing some sightseeing, particularly making a visit to the Taj Mahal.”
Kobayashi’s teammate Sergio Perez knows India as an emotional country.
“I think the first Indian Grand Prix will be a very exciting event. I have some Indian friends and they keep telling me how emotional everybody is there about it. In any case, it is my goal to make the most out of that race weekend and score points again.”
Former champion Lewis Hamilton from McLaren is confident India will embrace the motorsport despite cricket’s dominance.
“India’s a sport-mad nation - mostly, it’s about cricket, which is understandable because they’re a very successful cricketing country, but I really think the people of India are going to take Formula One to their hearts.
“The reception we’ve had in the last few years has been greater than I could ever have predicted and I think the whole country is ready for something new and something exciting,” the British driver said.