Indian charm masks venue's shortcomings

Bar the odd rat, this has been a good week down at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida. The arrival of Diwali has ensured a national mood of celebration as Formula One takes the first step in attempting to challenge cricket as India's most popular sport. That, of course, is rather more than an uphill battle, but the signs look good nonetheless for a successful weekend.

There have been teething problems. The rat that appeared in Lotus's garage caused an upset, as did the team's decision not to give third driver Karun Chandhok a race ride and instead limit him to just an hour and a half's running this morning. A lack of clear signage outside the circuit, meanwhile, caused some confusion while media centre staff battled an immediate power cut.

But elsewhere visitors have been charmed by the venue, which boasts buildings that look like remnants from the Sixties despite being brand spanking new. You might not want to look too closely at certain aspects of the architectural finish, but there is excitement everywhere as the local staff and hoteliers do their best to be welcoming.

The drivers have been caught up in the optimistic atmosphere. "It reminds me very much of my country 20 or 30 years ago," Ferrari's Felipe Massa suggested. "Brazil has grown a lot since then, and so now, I believe, with events such as this, will India."

There has also been general approval for the track. "The track is an eye-opener," said Narain Karthikeyan, the other Indian hero who will be racing as Tonio Liuzzi's temporary replacement in the back-of-the-grid Spanish HRT team. "It's an interesting place and 90 per cent of the people in the paddock seem to love it. They've taken a lot of the best corners from many tracks. There are a lot of medium-speed corners, and a long straight. It's come out really well."

Fernando Alonso agrees. "It's challenging, and I really like the elevation changes and the wide entries to the corners and the chance they present for passing," he said.

Red Bull racers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, have all expressed similar sentiments after trying the track in their factory-based simulators. But the final proof will come when they start here for real today.

There is, however, an underlying tension within a paddock torn apart by the recent deaths, on successive weekends, of Briton Dan Wheldon in IndyCar and Italian Marco Simoncelli in MotoGP. Their sports might be disparate, but there is an international brotherhood of speed and both were much loved and respected by the Formula One fraternity.

The tragedies have focused attention once again on safety aspects (even though both accidents were not the sort that can be legislated for), and there is talk of a minute's silence on the grid before Sunday's race in their honour. That is testament to the depth of emotion in the paddock as Formula One seeks to conquer another new continent.

"The accidents were a reminder that motor racing is a dangerous sport and Formula One is the fastest form of it," said the seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher. "Safety has hugely improved since I started in 1991, and both of these accidents are something I would call fate, and fate is something we are all faced with. I am touched by what happened to both drivers, but unfortunately we have to say that is life."

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice