Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times
October 18, 2011
First Published: 23:52 IST(18/10/2011)
Last Updated: 16:46 IST(19/10/2011)
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Like an Indian wedding, the promoters (Jaypee Group) insist there is logic to this chaos. With just nine days left, the Buddh International Circuit is far from complete as far as the cosmetics go, but the bit in the middle that matters is certainly world-class.
As far as track safety is concerned, the circuit has already got the international federation's (FIA) approval and Red Bull Racing's show car touched a high of 304 kph to illustrate a bump-free smooth ride. However, their driver Neel Jani was wary of speeding on some of the corners as they were coated with dust that had blown over from the final bits of construction that are going on around the track. That, anyway, is not necessarily a cause for concern since the track will be thoroughly washed before the actual race.
F1 track unveiled
Other than the last bit of spit and polish, there is no doubt that what these Jaypee guys have managed is truly an outstanding feat. The Indian GP will be held at a facility that is likely to become a source of great pride for this country in the years to come. That they managed this without any support from the central govt and pushed on through despite being denied concessionary provisions that are given without much ado for events of such stature, makes it all the more laudable.
What's even more commendable is that a private company has taken upon itself to repair India's image as a sporting destination in the wake of the scandalous Commonwealth Games. The Gaurs, Jaypee Group owners, are vehement that they are building a sporting infrastructure that will significantly contribute to this nation's athletic wealth. They say that it's an emotional decision. The 875-acre complex is part of a larger 2500-acre sports city.
Apart from the obvious model of land value appreciation with a high-value property like F1, there does not seem to be too much short-term economic logic to what the Gaurs are up to. Repeated questions on the business model yielded vague answers minus concrete figures. It is tough to imagine a real estate giant spending $400m (Rs 1700 cr) without having calculated long-term returns, but as of now, nobody is talking.
Whatever the logic, the moot point is that a breath-taking facility has come up literally in the middle of nowhere. Such has been the attention to detail that corners three, four and 11 were rebuilt in sync with new FIA recommendations to encourage overtaking. The Indian pioneer in F1 Narain Karthikeyan feels the track is a wonderful mix of great features from circuits across the world. "Overt aggression won't work. It's a challenging circuit that will reward a smooth style. The fact that turn three is a blind corner uphill will also separate the men from the boys," he says. The one main thing that catches the casual eye and even earns the appreciation of Karthikeyan is the expansive nature of the place. As compared to the latest entrant to F1 -- South Korea - the Jaypee facility is "way ahead".
While the Jaypee Group stays clueless in handling basics like media interactions, they certainly have stuck true to their core competence - if they can think it, they can construct it.