For the first time ever, Indian motor sport fans witnessed the other side of a F1 race on Sunday. A galaxy of national and international celebrities dotted the paddock area and pit lane adding to the glamour quotient associated with the event.
Expectedly, star cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh caught the maximum attention at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC). Tendulkar, accompanied by wife Anjali, was the cynosure as he met F1 top boss Bernie Ecclestone, Indian driver Karun Chandhok and, above all, the legendary Michael Schumacher of Mercedes GP Petronas.Ganguly was spotted with wife Dona and daughter Sana.
They all joined the drivers of all the teams in a minute's silence for Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli, who died recently in accidents in separate races.
Later, Tendulkar waved the Chequered Flag.
Movie stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Gulshan Grover, Imran Khan, Deepika Padukone, Preity Zinta and Venkatesh kept the shutterbugs busy with their presence.
The biggest surprise for the thousands was the lovable British actor Rowan ‘Mr. Bean' Atkinson. A big F1 fan, Atkinson was seen talking to McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony Hamilton.
Industrialists Subroto Roy and Vijay Mallya, who co-own Sahara Force India, and Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin, preferred to stick around their teams.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah roamed around the paddock zone searching for an opportunity to visit a team's pit. Singers Leslie Lewis, Daler Mehndi, Lucky Ali and KK made the nearly packed house tap their feet to the tune of ‘Hum main raftar' — the theme song of the BIC — before weaving a patriotic atmosphere for the home fans with the National Anthem.
However, other than the main race, the biggest attraction of the day was the grid parade of the drivers in vintage cars. Thousands of fingers kept clicking the cameras and spectators tirelessly waved at their favourite drivers as the ‘royal' convoy of cars went around the track to herald the historic sporting event in the country.