iconimg Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times
Greater Noida, October 30, 2011
They came expecting the worst. They left dazzled. Not only did India offer Formula One a racing circuit rivalling the best in the world, it did so with typical Indian warmth. Good tracks these F1 fellows are used to but friendly, open people proved to be India's greatest ambassadors.

World champion and winner of the first Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel's take on the country after his race was a touch philosophical but insightful: "If you keep your eyes and ears open I think you are able to learn a lot (from) the way people handle things here. It is a big country, a lot of people… but they get along and are happy… even though people don't have a lot here, in a way they are much richer than a lot of people back in Europe. It is a great race, great event."

Second-placed Jenson Button has been effusive in his praise for the facility ever since he got here. But on Sunday he went the distance: "In the years to come, we are going to think of it (the circuit) as one of the greats. It is a very special circuit."

F1 is the technical pinnacle of motorsports. The fastest machines on the planet can only run in high-tech arenas built to exacting standards. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/311011/31_10_pg1a.jpg

There are jumbo-loads of communication equipment and track-monitoring systems that need to be laid out. Instant emergency response is mandatory.

Drivers have to be confident of the safety features if they have to floor their foot. They did that with great regularity on Sunday as the 95,000-strong crowd screamed on.

"The response here has been incredible. I am amazed and impressed," said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

"I see it (the event) getting bigger."

Its people are anyway going to be India's greatest asset as far as F1 is concerned. There is already a significant fan following to bring in the crowds. Then, most major brands associated with F1 are looking to exploit the burgeoning Indian market.

Problems arose aplenty over the first two days but the best bit was that the same glitch did not surface again.

By pulling off one of the most demanding and sophisticated sporting spectacles, the Jaypee Group has illustrated the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of our private sector.

Of course, the moment the crowds poured out of the track and onto the roads controlled by our public authorities, the usual chaos surfaced. Huge traffic jams were the norm.