In October 2010, the 3.192 mile Buddh International Circuit hosted the Indian Grand Prix one of the latest addition to the Formula One World Championship as the sport's supremo attempts to make the sport truly global.
The circuit forms part of the 2,500 acre Jaypee Greens Sports City, which will eventually include a 100,000 seat cricket stadium, 18-hole golf course, 25,000 seat hockey stadium and a sports academy.
Estimated to have cost around £135m ($216) to build, the circuit was officially inaugurated on 18th Oct 2011. It covers an area of 875 acres and while seating capacity should eventually increase to 200,000.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, just one week before the race, local hero Narain Karthikeyan, who was to drive an HRT in the maiden Grand Prix, described the track as "one of the best in the world".
"I have raced on all the major F1 tracks across the globe," said the 34-year-old, "and I rate this track as one of the best in the world".
The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, the man behind so many of the recent additions to the F1 calendar, including those in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Turkey, and South Korea.
The original design was forwarded to the teams in order to gather feedback on how the circuit could be altered to improve overtaking and this has resulted in various changes. A planned hairpin was removed, and Turn 3 was widened to allow drivers to take different lines throughout the corner.
Formula One has become increasingly popular in India in recent years, thanks in part to Vijay Mallya's purchase of the Spyker F1 team and talents such as Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, and it is widely believed that hosting a round of the world championship will boost global awareness of the country. It is also hoped the race will provide a significant fillip to the Indian economy in terms of promoting businesses in various direct and indirect ways including tourism.
Originally known as the Jaypee Group Circuit or the Jaypee International Race Circuit after its owners, the circuit was officially named the Buddh International Circuit in April 2011. According to Sameer Gaur, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Jaypee, the name is derived from the word Buddha, and represents peace and calm. The name is also a reference to the Gautam Budh Nagar district in which the circuit is located, itself named after the Gautam Buddha. The Buddh International circuit logo consists of a 'B' which also resembles a heart.
In order to build the circuit, the land of some three hundred farmers was purchased by the state government. However, in August 2011 - three months before the inaugural race - the farmers expressed dissatisfaction with the project and threatened to dismantle the circuit "with force if necessary", demanding more money and stating that they felt the land should have been zoned for industrial estates to generate more employment in the area.
Inaugural winner Sebastian Vettel praised the track saying; “there is a lot of elevation change around the lap which adds to the fun, from as much as 8% downhill and up to 10% uphill; it’s like a roller coaster. It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers.”
The pit lane is one of the longest in Formula 1 at over 600 metres with a notable influence on pit stop strategy as a result.
With speeds of around 198 mph attained, the longest straight on the track leads into Turn 4; a corner which is quite wide to assist with overtaking. It’s also the heaviest braking point on the circuit – with cars going from 198 - 55 mph in 140 metres – creating aspect which should assist passing.
A fast right to left chicane, Turns 8 - 9 require a quick change of direction from the car.
The never-ending turn 10 - 11 combo is similar to Turkey’s Turn 8; long and fast, with energy building and compounding in the tyres. Turn 10 is uphill and heads straight into Turn 11, which combined to form one of the most exciting parts of the circuit. This section is overlooked by a grandstand with a capacity of 13,000. Through this long corner, understeer is the enemy and car setup is focused on countering that.
Turns 13 - 14 form another section requiring good change of direction. Here the car needs to be stiff to ensure receptive response.
Turn 16 is another wider section of track which promotes overtaking opportunities.