Wednesday 13 December 2017

Poverty, dogs and dust as Formula One embraces India

MOTORSPORT

David Coulthard

We expected India to be colourful and it has not disappointed. From the bats in the media centre to the white-knuckle tuk-tuk rides in town, a real sense of fun has accompanied proceedings this week, despite the vague whiff of chaos and trepidation.

This must be the first race we've had in Formula One where teams have flown out spare crew members and kept them locked up in hotels, drinking bottled water, just in case the first lot come down with 'Delhi Belly.'

The poverty, as many have pointed out, is eye-watering, but I'm not buying the theory that bringing Formula One here is a disgusting waste of money. With luck, this race will be a source of jobs and opportunities for locals. I also feel very strongly that Formula One can be used as an opportunity to promote safer driving.

Believe me, driving in India is no joke. With more than 130,000 road deaths annually, it has the worst record in the world and it's not hard to see why. Let's just say that the approach to choosing a lane is entirely random, the horn is used more than the brakes and the only thing drivers use a mirror for is to comb their hair.

Who's hot?

McLaren are looking good out there. Lewis Hamilton was quickest in morning practice only to pick up a three-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags. Harsh but fair, I'm afraid.

Who's not?

The commentary boxes have not gone down well. They don't have any windows, so we'll be relying entirely on the race feed. I might as well be in Shepherd's Bush.

The circuit

Tricky but rewarding. I think the Buddh circuit will be a challenging track for the drivers; the blind crests are interesting and elevation changes are always fun. I don't think the blind crests will overly worry the drivers. Most of Monaco is blind, but you always know exactly what is coming around the corner. Mind you, if a dog is just around the corner -- as we saw yesterday -- that will not be funny.

Weather

Dusty. The challenge for the drivers will be to get to grips, literally, with a track that is covered in a thick layer of dust which probably won't disappear until next year's race.

Prediction

Difficult to say as this is the first ever race here. But McLaren and Red Bull are the form teams.

Indian Grand Prix,

Live, BBC 1, tomorrow 9.30

Irish Independent

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