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More Grand Prix will popularise motor racing: Hamilton

More Grand Prix (GP), investments and sponsors would make motor racing popular in India, as the exciting sport had caught up with the youth, British Formula One (F1)driver Lewis Hamilton said Tuesday.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2011 18:16 IST

More Grand Prix (GP), investments and sponsors would make motor racing popular in India, as the exciting sport had caught up with the youth, British Formula One (F1)driver Lewis Hamilton said Tuesday.

"India needs to invest a lot in building the infrastructure for making motor racing popular. Passion for the sport here is incredible. But you need more investors and sponsors to host a Grand Prix every year to make it as popular as cricket," Hamilton told reporters here.

The 2008 F1 world champion earlier dazzled about 10,000 frenzied fans by driving his 2008 award-winning McLaren Mercedes (MP4-23) at breakneck speeds on a 500-metre stretch of an expressway built by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) Ltd on the city's outskirts.

The overwhelming response of the boisterous spectators, including boys and girls to the promotional event, hosted by telecom major Vodafone, prompted Hamilton to repeat the feat on a hot and humid day with some breathtaking drills.

"I never thought the people out there are as enthusiastic about motor racing as elsewhere. The response is amazing. What is surprising is there is so much passion for motor race as for cricket. I am sure this sport will pick up steam and more will follow it after the first Indian Grand Prix next month," Hamilton said at the venue, about 20km from the city centre.

The first Indian F1 Grand Prix is slated to be held October 28-30 at Buddha International Circuit in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh, about 24km from New Delhi.

Though it was not a competitive race, Hamilton was cheered and lapped up by the boisterous crowd for accelerating within seconds of leaving the pit and racing to the other end in a jiffy.

Apart from swaying the red-and-white motor car zigzag and going in circles with the front wheel locked while rear tyres turned rapidly emitting thick smoke, Hamilton displayed some daring stunts, including back-up spin over (reversing, tucking around and straightening) with deafening screeching sound.

"After every race, we lose about 4kg weight due to stress, strain and exhaustion. A lot of planning and preparation goes before every international race. We have to be 100 percent fit at body and mental levels. Though it is exciting and a lot of fun later, we put lot of hard work for every race," said Hamilton.

On what message and advice he would give to the youth raring to join motor racing, Hamilton said they need to be patient, committed and fully devoted to practice, starting with go-kart and taking to sports cars.

"The sport is very demanding. Though it is nice to watch car racing from a distance or on television, its not that easy or simple when you sit behind the wheel in a track suit. Familiarity with racing car, tracks and conditions were as critical as fitness, mental stamina and love for the sport," the Mclaren team member said.

Making his fourth visit to India but first to Bangalore, Hamilton also treated a couple of Vodafone contest winners and select celebrities on the fast lane for hot laps, demonstrating his unique racing skills and expertise in handling sports cars with aplomb.

The atmosphere at the venue was electrifying as the unused stretch of road resembled a F1 track with grand stand, pit garage and the roar of the Mercedes car.
On his previous trips to India, Hamilton visited Chennai in 2010, Delhi in 2009 and Mumbai 2008.

"Though I have visited India over the last couple of years, the excitement has never been more than here. With the Indian GP in four weeks time, one can feel the growing passion for the adventurous sport. It is a different experience to drive on Indian public roads as fans get a taste of the F1 spectacle," Hamilton observed.

First Published: Oct 01, 2011 18:14 IST