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Heat on India over date change

8 August 2011

Indian motorsport chief Vicky Chandhok has added to the debate over the latest F1 calendar for 2012, claiming that moving his country's race to the early part of the schedule would be a mistake.

The race, which is scheduled to make its F1 debut later this season, has already been the subject of several calendar shifts, having been moved, briefly, to December 2011 to make way for the possible return of Bahrain following the political unrest that saw the season-opener postponed from its March slot. When Bahraini officials then decided to cancel their race altogether, India was reinstated to its original 30 October date, despite concerns that the new Buddh International circuit may not be ready.

The latest 2012 schedule, however, sees India moving from the end of the campaign to the start, where it would stage round four - following the 'flyaways' to Australia, Malaysia and China - in April.

This move has concerned Chandhok, the father of Team Lotus test driver Karun as well as president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, who claims that temperatures could prove to be uncomfortably high at that time of year. The revised schedule has already taken high temperatures into account by moving the inaugural USGP in Austin to the end of the 2012 programme, having initially be slated for a June date.

"I am not happy with April because it's going to be hot," Chandhok told Reuters at the weekend, "but, if we have to go in April, we will go. However, I really think that the ideal dates for India are when it's cooler, maybe March or you go to October, November, December."

Chandhok also played down repeated suggestions that construction at the Buddh International facility, at Greater Noida near Delhi, was running behind time and may not be completed in time for this year's race. Concerns have been heightened by a change of date for the official FIA inspection of the new circuit, but Chandhok insisted that this did not mean that India was in danger of following the path set by Korea last season, when the final touches were still be added to the circuit as the F1 weekend got underway.

"[The delay is for] purely administrative reasons," Chandhok claimed, confirming that the FIA had asked to reschedule Charlie Whiting's visit by a month, to 1 September, "Charlie, who has been here three or four times [already], asked us 'doesn't it make logical sense for me to combine it with Korea? He is visiting Korea at the end of this month [and], on his way back, he is flying over Delhi. So he will stop over at Delhi as it will make logical sense for the FIA. We said we are fine with it. It's purely procedural and a matter of convenience for the date of inspection. Nothing else."

Chandhok also said that he was confident that Buddh International would add a new dimension to the F1 calendar when it debuts later this season.

"I have been to every single racetrack in the world, and it's going to be one of the fastest," he noted, "[It has a] 1.2km straight and three corners that have now been redefined. They are following the new FIA guidelines to encourage overtaking, [and I think it's going to be phenomenal. There will be lot of scope of overtaking."


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