By Mridubha Kumar and Shoumeshwar Sen
People were in for a pleasant surprise as the two Indian drivers in Formula One, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, joined managing director and CEO of Jaypee Sports International Ltd. Sameer Gaur for the tickets launch in Greater Noida on Saturday.
The first two tickets were given to Karthikeyan and Chandhok, the only drivers to have represented India in the sport.
The organisers, who have so far been tight-lipped about the progress at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), finally intimated the media about the 1,20,000-capacity venue. A media visit is also being planned towards the end of September. With the homologation of the track slated for September 1, Gaur spoke on the outlook of the circuit which has the largest grandstand in the F1 calendar.
“Buddh International Circuit is more than speed and power, it is also about opportunities and development,” Gaur said.
Tickets will be sold in two phases, first via online booking that is already underway through bookmyshow.com. A second phase will see tickets sold in retail outlets in metropolitan cities and the box offices at the track. Parking tickets can also be bought separately.
“BIC bus service will also be available during the race weekend and the circuit will also have metro connectivity," he added.
Designed by famous German architect and racetrack designer Herman Tilke, the 5.14 km circuit is being touted as one of the fastest motor circuits in the world. It has 16 corners, high-speed straights and dramatic changes in elevation to provide enough opportunities for overtaking.
While Lotus driver Chandhok did not confirm whether he will be on the grid at the race, he is confident the race will be a real treat for the fans.
“It's a dream for any Indian driver to race in his first home Grand Prix. From April till now, we have been visiting and monitoring the progress at the circuit. The Indian GP is going to be a great challenge for the drivers. The circuit designers have taken the drivers' inputs on board and built a track which will be extremely challenging,” Chandhok said.
Meanwhile Hispania Racing’s Karthikeyan, who is all set to drive in front of his home fans on October 30, also expects a big bonanza for the fans. “The designers have taken some of the best corners from different circuits around the world for BIC. There will be a lot of overtaking opportunities. It is going to be a great race, for sure,” he said.
The process of booking tickets online is extremely easy and user-friendly with the prices ranging from Rs 2500 (Natural Stand) to Rs 35000 (Main Grand Stand). The prices are cheaper compared to most venues on the F1 calendar, to ensure a packed audience for India’s maiden race.
Gaur also revealed that a deal with Mercedes to develop a young driver academy is in the pipe-line to ensure the utilisation of this world class racing arena. With the plans underway, Chandhok and Karthikeyan feel it will now be easier for Indian talent to break into the higher echelons of motor-racing. “It will be a big push for young drivers. The experience of a Grand Prix will really benefit India,” said Karthikeyan.
Chandhok shared Karthikeyan’s sentiments. “Young drivers will have it easier than us.” But the 27-year-old feels more help is needed to make F1 a popular sport in India. “Manufacturers and sponsors must come forward to help make F1 big in India,” he added.