Red Bull Racing is to kick start the F1 festivities in India a little earlier than expected after confirming that it would be putting on a demonstration in Delhi fully four weeks before the country's debut on the world championship calendar.
Red Bull-backed machines, including one of its F1 show cars, will take to the Rajpath - the ceremonial boulevard that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan through Vijay Chowk and India Gate to National Stadium - on 1 October, with the race weekend to follow at the end of the month. Red Bull reserve, and current HRT driver, Daniel Ricciardo will be behind the wheel of the F1 car as part of the Red Bull Speed Street event, having flown in from this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix. Ironically, Red Bull and the Australian were responsible for the only Indian member of the 2011 F1 grid, Narain Karthikeyan, losing his ride with HRT in June, although the veteran will be back in action, both in Singapore and then for his home race.
According to the local hindubusinessline.com
website, the main event will be accompanied by motorcycle stunts and other entertainment, while the culmination of a seven-city Red Bull promotion - Red Bull Racing Can - will crown India's fastest drinks container, positioned on a remote controlled chasis of a mini-race car. The winners will then go on to represent their country at the world finals at RBR headquarters in Milton Keynes.
“We're speaking to some dignitaries, and we expect to have representatives from the government including ministers, Bollywood and sports flagging off the event at India Gate," a representative of the Confederation of Indian Industry told the report, "The event should start at 2pm, go on 'til 4.30pm and is more like a curtain raiser for the Indian Grand Prix.”
Red Bull could arrive in India with one half of its season-long ambitions safely locked away, depending on the result in Singapore, even if championship leader Sebastian Vettel refuses to believe that his goal can be attained this weekend.
"There is still some way to go, but we are in a very strong position, which we deserve because we've been working hard and made few mistakes," the German commented in the build-up to the Marina Bay event, "As long as we come out of the next race with a bigger lead then we start with, then we have done a good job, so let's see.
"We've had some good races there in the past, especially last year when we finished second, just behind Fernando Alonso. I love the track as it's very challenging - there are a lot of corners, it's very long, it's hot and it's a night race, so there are a lot of special things about Singapore. The car seems to be very competitive there, so I hope we can go back there this year and win – it would be very special."
Team-mate Mark Webber is among those drivers who still have a mathematical chance of overhauling Vettel, even if they secretly concede that the title race is over. Instead, the Australian will be looking to open his victory account for 2011 on the streets - and under the lights - of Singapore.
"In the championship, [there are] four of us – me, Fernando, Jenson [Button] and Lewis [Hamilton] – separated by just 14 points and none of us is going to give an inch,” Webber, the only member of F1's top five not to have won a race in 2011, insisted, "I finished third at Marina Bay last year, but the track hasn't been that kind to me in the past. I enjoy driving there, so I hope to nail it this year in much the same way that I nailed Valencia earlier this season."
Vettel, with 284 points, is way ahead of his nearest rival Alonso, with the Ferrari man sitting on 172, while RBR is 126 points clear of McLaren-Mercedes in the constructors' championship with six races to go. The last few of months of the season, however, still have the potential to reshape both quests, with little or no time to return to base in order to repair or develop the cars between now and the Brazilian finale in mid-November.