29 September 2011
Indian GP still facing race against time
Sources continue to suggest that the inaugural Indian Grand Prix could face a race against time akin to that seen in Korea last season.
Despite hopes and assurances that there would be no repeat of the debacle surrounding last year's Korean Grand Prix when the F1 circus ships up in India for this season's newest race, the readiness of the new Buddh International Circuit continues to be called into question.
Although official sources, from the FIA through to circuit officials and promoters, insist that all will be ready on time, and images of the venue suggest that it will look the part, there are rumours that all is not as it may appear, with doubts surrounding the completion of the track and associated facilities.
“Regarding India, there are two versions,” French journalist Jean-Louis Moncet wrote in his column for Auto Plus magazine, “There are members of some big teams who were sent out there who say that nothing is really ready [but], on the other hand, the specialists at Tecpro assure me that the track itself is ready, [although] as they haven't visited any buildings or seen the infrastructure, they could not comment [on that].”
Team Lotus reserve Karun Chandhok, who has made repeated visits to the venue is confident that 'the track will be ready in time', although his view could be slightly biased given his father's role in the national motorsport authority.
With protests over the purchase of land, alleged religious infringements and an ongoing row over taxes that the Indian authorities want to collect from the teams and drivers when they compete at the end of next month, the event has been continually dogged by issues, and the organisation of McLaren and Vodafone's recent media day does not bode well, even if it was undertaken by a different operation to that of the circuit.
According to reports in the Deccan Herald newspaper, there was insufficient security or safety measures to deal with the estimated 20,000-strong crowd that turned out to see Lewis Hamilton complete a series of demonstration runs in Bangalore, with stories of barriers giving way and allowing spectators to crowd on the very edges of the road - and even one fan attempting to shake Hamilton's hand after he had emerged from the cockpit.
The media, too, was far from impressed with their facilities and, coming so soon after the farce that threatened to engulf last year's Commonwealth Games, did not engender confidence in those with doubts over the country's inaugural grand prix.
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