By Shrikant Shankar
On the eve of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, New Delhi is buzzing with excitement. McLaren drivers - Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button - who attended an event to welcome on board 5 lucky winners of the McLaren-Vodafone contest, were thrilled to be part of the inaugural Indian GP.
The 2009 Driver’s World Champion, Jenson Button, said: “The track resembles Spa (Belgium) and Suzuka (Japan). It is a quite a quick circuit and there are some interesting corners, so, quite excited to be part of it.”
The 2008 Driver’s World Champion, Lewis Hamilton meanwhile was in a jovial mood. He quipped: “I have done many simulators runs of this track but the best experience was the tuk-tuk ride on the track, maybe one should have a tuk-tuk race. The media should probably race and then we get to criticize them.”
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes took this opportunity to give five Indians an opportunity of a lifetime. They organized an event ‘Vodafone Race to Fame’, through which ‘ABC Consultants’ got an opportunity to have their company logo on the McLaren car for the race. Shiv Agrawal, CEO ABC Consultants, was given the honour from Marten Pieters, CEO, Vodafone India.
There were four lucky winners from events ‘Vodafone Race to Fame’ and ‘Vodafone Drive into the Big League’. Imran Sidi, Suhail Ahmed, Naveen Kumar and Shray Tiwari, the lucky ones, will spend the weekend with the McLaren team.
The McLaren drivers seemed optimistic despite Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel winning the Drivers’ Championship. The team also bagged the Constructors’ title with four races left.
“It is very important to finish well. We have seen how Red Bull ended strongly over the last two years and they have won two consecutive World titles. We are really trying hard to make sure we end on a high,” said Button.
When questioned about their healthy rivalry amongst themselves, Hamilton shot-back, “You always want to beat your team mate, but outside the car, we are friends. On the track we are fierce competitors. We are good actors. This is the land of Bollywood, so we can perhaps learn some acting”.
“This is my fifth time in India, so I can be mistaken for an Indian as well. I just loved the experience when I came to Bangalore, so I’m hoping to have a great time here at the track and in Delhi”, Hamilton signed off.
Come Friday, India will be ready to usher in a landmark event which is expected to attract Bollywood celebrities, industrialists and sportspersons from across all fields alike. It’s time to welcome India into the F1 bandwagon!