It’s that time of the year.

We’re 50 days away from arguably India’s most prestigious sporting event. The Buddh International Circuit at Sector 25, Noida will host the second ever Indian Grand Prix, exactly a year after the humungous success of the first.

It feels like only yesterday that most of us F1 enthusiasts made the painfully long trek from our respective cities, homes and from the Noida metro stations, into the packed buses, through the jampacked 1 hour drive to the venue, before watching, gape-mouthed and all, the sheer velocity of the machines that zipped by us at ear-shattering speed. For the record, as iffy as the choice of venue for this landmark race was, there was no unduly behavior reported over the long weekend- with the organizers clearly learning that more transport needs to be arranged for the adoring Indian crowds.

It was Vettel who easily stormed away with the race last year, but what really got the crowd going was the sight of that grand old man of Motorsports- the legend himself, Schumacher- banging his way across the curbs to finish 5th, his best performance of the 2011 season. There was nothing more one could ask for, except for maybe, a more closely fought race- a battle in competition, and not a foregone conclusion.

But we’re not to complain, not if it’s a glitch-free large scale event watched by the scrutinizing eyes of the rest of the civilized world. After the Commonwealth debacle, this was what the capital needed, and it was also what it deserved.

2012 has been a strange year for those who accustomed themselves to the themes of 2011. But for the world of F1, this has been the year we were waiting for. In all probability, The Indian GP could be the most crucial race of the packed calendar, with things already heating up heading into Italy.

There is no outright favorite this year, with a former World Champion holding off the younger, fitter Champions- and the rise of everyone’s favorite Scarlett car. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen- these are the three drivers that will be battling it out even after the European stretch, unless McLaren pulls off a miracle and gets one of their drivers back into play. If so, it could be Hamilton, who is only two good races away from contention too.

The best part is that Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Button are all World Champions. Schumacher, of course, not among contention, still remains a crowd puller to an event that will be seen so that it can be said, ‘I was there to watch his last Indian GP.’

As far as the circuit goes, one hopes nothing will be drastically changed from 2011- and the facilities can only improve. The mini-shuttles that take viewers around the circuit will have to be better managed, and lack of cellphone coverage only aggravates this chaos.

The booking of tickets is underway, with a whole range of information about the venue, parking, bookings and hospitality options available HERE

Inside, the seating arrangements will be one that viewers will now be familiar with:

  • If you are a spectator that gets an inexplicable kick out of death defying and high chances of mortality, then the Classic Stand North and the Star stand 1 East (between turns 3 and 4) is the place for you. Of course, you will see nothing but an extended blur- at the longest strait of this circuit which will definitely see top speeds of 315 km/hr. Value for money: 6500-8500? Maybe not. I’d rather watch a horse race past at Mahalakshmi Race course at acceptable eye-catching speeds. A better view of the cars dancing with death on this strait would be from the-  
  • Picnic STAND NORTH (sector 1- maximum view) or the STAR STAND 2 EAST (at a hairpin). Same price, better vantage point. Nevertheless, the unmistakable deafening noise of the engines whizzing by won’t be letting you take long, relieved breaths. More importantly, the cars remain in view for a longer period.
  • The other high-speed straits lie diagonally opposite to eachother- with star stand 3 and classic stand 1 on the EAST, and the mother of all areas: The GRANDSTAND and the Premium Stand NORTH on the WEST. While the Grandstand might see the who’s who of the Indian Glambrigade and bigwigs (thanks to the 35k price tag), the other stands mentioned here are a safer bet and let us in on an equal amount of action- ONLY if you’re not desperate to watch the green lights go off (in Steve Slater’s excited words)
  • Ironically, the South stands (Picnic and Natural) might see the maximum amount of overtaking and even action- due to the massive hairpin at between turns 10 and 11. The cheapest tickets in the house, maybe, but the Premium Stand South is the place to be if you’re a purist (12.5k looks expensive- but could be well worth it). The cars will be at their slowest (and hence, the driver skills and mechanical procedures at the highest), and there is a large scope for race-altering events to occur here. Also, consider wearing metallic Armor and dress up as a Knight- because shrapnel and Shreds are bound to fly. Avoiding the euphemisms, make sure your insurance procedures are upto date if you decide to sit here. If you’re lucky, you might even find Roman Grosjean or Maldanado sitting in your lap after they crash and burn once again. If you’re a cricket fan, you are allowed to rip the Brit Hamilton upinto shreds. You will not be judged.
  • The classic stands at the West (1 and 2) probably have the best view in the house- for they might be able to catch a glimpse of the race lights go off, and also watch the best moments over the qualifying weekend just when the cars approach the finish line at desperate speeds- racing against nothing but a clock.

So KEEP CALM and WATCH THE INDIAN GP– could well be the motto heading into an action packed October season, a month that could very well spell the beginning of a new era in the ever-evolving world of FormulaOne.

For the review of the sheer experience of the racing weekend in 2011, click HERE and HERE, and be sure you won’t miss out on it this time.

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