By A Seshan
Formula 1 is at the top of the pecking order of motor races. Cars race at speeds of up to 350 km/h (220 mph). The second edition of the Airtel Indian F-1 Grand Prix will commence on October 27 with practice and qualifying sessions on the first two days reaching the climax on the 28th instant when the drivers on the podium will be decided at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. Sahara Force India, the Indian team, has two foreign drivers — Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, while Narain Karthikeyan is a member of the Hispania Racing Team.
The booking of tickets seems to have proceeded well with seats available at a price of Rs 23,100 on the Main Grandstand that can accommodate 20,000 persons. Sponsors promise that from the Grandstand one can witness the whole grid, the line and the long straight besides not missing a single second of the action in pre-grid, grid and the pit lane.
On TV you can have a close view of the whole proceedings including the race against time in the pit stop. Pit is the area for servicing cars during the race like changing the tyres, refuelling, making adjustments to the car parts, etc. It is an interesting experience to see a number of people working on the car simultaneously, the whole process being finished in less than seven seconds! The current record is four seconds! You will feel as tense as the lollipop man waiting anxiously to lift the carbon-fibre stick, similar in shape to the children’s candy, held in front of the driver, as soon as the maintenance work is finished, so that the latter can join the race again.
At the end of the year the champion driver and the constructor of the year are decided on the basis of the total scores in the season. The sport is governed by a simple points system — 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6,4, 2 and 1 for the first ten places in the race. They are computed separately for the driver and the constructor at each championship to arrive at the final position. In the case of the latter the points earned by the two drivers of the team are added. Thus, as of now, Red Bull Racing-Renault leads the constructors with their members Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber holding scores of 215 and 152 points adding up to 367 points. It is followed by Ferrari (290) and McLaren-Mercedes (284).
There will be considerable excitement and tension at the forthcoming event because of the close neck-to-neck race of the top two drivers. Vettel, who is No 1, has a lead of only 6 points over Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) followed by Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus-Renault) with 167 points. There are only four races, including the Indian one, left. Given the points system, I have a strong feeling that Red Bull will be the winning constructor of the year. Raikkonen’s partner Felipe Massa in Lotus is at the ninth position among drivers with only 81 points. Going by his performance it is not likely that he will be able to earn substantial points for his team in the coming races. As for drivers’ championship it could be a toss-up between Vettel and Alonso. The last race in India was won by Vettel.
Sachin Tendulkar lowered the chequered flag when he crossed the finish line. Vettel and Red Bull were the champions in 2010 and 2011. Can they perform the hat trick in 2012 by winning in the remaining races?