As racecars vroomed around the Formula 1 track over the past few days on the Buddh International Circuit in Noida, Mikhail Almeida, 18, purred with delight. It was the soundtrack of dreams for Almeida, an inveterate F1 lover, as he watched the cars racing in the build up to race day.
"It's a special sound; nothing in the world can prepare you for the sound from the actual track," said the Malad resident. The engineering student has an exam on Monday, but F1 trumps academics. He's already in Delhi with a ticket to catch the action live. "The college minds that I'm missing the exam, but I don't care," said Almeida, for whom this is the first experience of watching a race live.
Like Almeida, several Mumbaiites are part of the exodus from the city to Delhi for the weekend. The race is on Sunday, but many bought three-day passes (priced at a minimum of Rs3,500) for the practice run on Friday, the qualifiers on Saturday and the final on Sunday.
The first encounter was heady. "It's just awesome," said a clearly overwhelmed Shaleen Jethi, 21, another collegian from Mumbai. "I was not expecting much, especially after the Commonwealth Games chaos last year. But it's been grand so far. I can't wait for Sunday's race."
At the qualifiers on Saturday, there was a crash, which only added to the thrill for fans eager for the full F1 experience.
"I have no words for it," said Siddhant Badani, 20. "I'm not a die-hard fan, but it's been totally worth it till now; the thrill of the track, the cars rushing at 300kmph and watching world famous drivers." Badani's exams begin next week he has but managed to convince his parents to let him go to Delhi for the weekend.
For Metallica fans, crushed by the cancellation of the concert, F1 is some sort of reprieve. "There were last minute cancellations, so tickets were easily available," said Rouhaan Shahpurwala, 22, who flew to Delhi with a group of friends for Friday's Metallica show, which was cancelled. "But even then, this can't compensate for losing out on Metallica."