The first ever Indian Grand Prix contained all of the pomp and circumstance of a historic sporting moment and contained many key themes from the 2011 season – though, as a spectacle, it was rather subdued.
It started with a sombre minute of silence for the recent deaths of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli but the Indian crowd soon got revved up again for the inaugural racing at the Buddh International circuit.
…the circus funnelled into the first hairpin…
The first lap was eventful – as the circus funnelled into the first hairpin the two Williams drivers collided. This was the first incident in a race which saw 5 retirees, considering improvements to reliability and some careful racing (this is notable for the season).
The retirees included Felipe Massa who, yet again, collided with Lewis Hamilton. His race wasn’t ended when he turned his Ferrari across the nose of the British driver’s McLaren but the incident damaged both cars and resulted in the Brazilian receiving a drive-through penalty. He then fell victim to a high-curb on the inside of a corner, which snapped his suspension.
…set the fastest lap of the race…
Their on-going rivalry wasn’t the only theme of the season re-enacted in India. Sebastian Vettel started on pole, lead the entire race and just continued to improve – to the extent that he set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap. The German’s dominance has become a par for the course.
The pit-lane exit wasn’t ideal,
On the whole, the racing was a little lacklustre, the circuit was completed under a week ago and still showed some signs that it could be finessed. The pit-lane exit wasn’t ideal, the tarmac was still coated in construction dust and, as Massa found, the track could be very punishing.
The race result confirmed Mclaren’s second place in the constructor’s championship and has really tightened up the mid-table battle but will not go down as one of F1‘s greatest races. Narain Karthikeyan brought his car home in 17th at his first home grand prix and commentators – such as myself – frantically searched for a headline to detract from Vettel’s dominance.
…had its share of incidents…
There wasn’t one – the circuit looked impressive and the race had its share of incidents but was ultimately not dramatic enough to surpass the spectacle of the first race in India.
Image courtesy of F1