NEW DELHI (AP) - Formula One drivers anticipate plenty of overtaking in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix after having their first view of the Buddh International Circuit on Thursday.
While some drivers had concerns about the amount of dust and dirt on the surface before Friday’s first practice session, they were pleased with the overtaking opportunities and undulating design.
The track was designed by Hermann Tilke, who is responsible for most of the recent tracks added to the F1 calendar. It features wide entrances to corners, which will allow drivers to choose alternative racing lines, aiding overtaking.
“It is a new sort of philosophy with this overtaking, with getting the circuits very wide at the entry,” Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher said. “It offers a good tactical perspective for overtaking, for having a good show and hopefully make the Indian fans enjoy Formula One after this weekend.”
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said the Buddh circuit was similar to some of Tilke’s other tracks, with a long straight followed by a twisty middle section, but welcomed the use of a more flowing final sector.
“This one looks very interesting, especially the last sector,” Alonso said. “The last sector looks very different, it looks very quick. Reality is very different to the simulator, so we will see tomorrow.”
McLaren driver Jenson Button compared the circuit to Spa Francorchamps in Belgium and Suzuka in Japan _ high praise as they are often cited as the two tracks most relished by F1 drivers.
He was especially enthusiastic about the blind entry to the Turn 3 hairpin, which is at the crest of a hill, similar to the famous Eau Rouge turn at Spa.
“It looks really good, it is going to take a few laps, may be a couple of hours for the circuit to actually clean up driving about,” Button said. “But the layout; they have done a really good job. It has a good design, the entry to corners looks good for overtaking.”
Drivers were likely to be cautious in Friday’s first practice because of the lack of rubber on the dusty surface, with consequent low tire grip levels.
“It was still very dusty, I should say,” Force India driver Adrian Sutil said after his track inspection. “Still very dirty, so we will have to see how it will be tomorrow morning.”
With both the drivers and constructors’ championships already decided in the favor of Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team, the final three races of the season have less at stake. Alonso said this could result in drivers being “more aggressive” and “take a risk in qualifying.”
Vettel has played down his quest to equal the records for most race wins in a season _ he must win all three to equal Schumacher’s 13. He’s also within a shot of the most pole positions _ he needs two more to equal Nigel Mansell’s 14.
“People say ‘what is the motivation’ but we are racing for the Grand Prix of India and it’s the first time we are racing here,” Vettel said.
F1 officials have confirmed there will be two DRS zones on the circuit rather than the standard one. The DRS _ or Drag Reduction System _ zones allow drivers to open the rear wings on their cars to catch up to the cars they are pursuing.