India vrooms into F1

Greater Noida circuit all set to burn rubber

Blinking not allowed! That’s the unwritten code at the Buddh International Circuit, the 5.14 km long F1 track. Because you might just miss the over 250 kmph racing demon by the time you open your eyes. What you can’t miss from the Grand Stand is the ear splitting sound, just like a monster about to be unleashed, and the smell of rubber burning on the asphalt.

“The Grand Stand is the brainchild of my father (Jaiprakash Gaur, founder of the Jaypee group). It’s something that stands out. Its tricolour represents the colours of our flag and its wave roof is the largest roof without any support in India,” said Sameer Gaur, managing director and chief executive of Jaypee Sports International, the group’s sporting arm.

Before the formal inauguration on October 28, the company took media on an exclusive tour of the circuit on Tuesday.There is so much speculation going around. We thought it is best that media should get a first-hand F1 experience before the formal launch,” Sameer Gaur said.

Neel Jani, a Swiss racer of Indian origin, enthralled 700 media personnel as he tested Red Bull’s F1 car, scorching the track with stunts like the burnout, where the car makes a 360- degree rotation at high speed.

As a spectator on the stands one has to be a little patient. Once the cars are flagged off, they just vroom off and can be seen only after they have done a lap and reappear before the stands. But giant screens tell you the full story unfolding out of sight. Nevertheless, that moment when the cars race past the stands is so breathtaking that the impact lingers till the cars are back for their next lap.

The best view is reserved for the Platinum lobbies, which are corporate boxes of which there are 55, with a price range of Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1 crore, each box having 30 seats. The company has already sold 50 of these.

Of the 75,000 normal non-box tickets costing between Rs 2,500 and Rs 35,000, Sameer said, about 65,000 had already been sold. The company invested $200 million and three years to set up the track and allied structures. Over 5,000 workers toiled on the 2,500-acre expanse to complete it. Jaypee Sports International paid another $200 million as licence fee.

But why F1, especially in a land where only cricket is worshipped? Sameer’s response: his group has always been known for taking on difficult targets. “It was but natural to take up a project like this. If you see our group’s unique selling point, it is speed. We take speed, just the way we take everything, in a very positive way,” he said. The company expects a full house of 100,000 spectators each of the three- day event from October 28. It expects at least 3,000 foreigners, mostly from Singapore and the UK to watch the event.

The company intends to breakeven in three or four years. Among other plans of using the track includes leasing it out for more such racing events.

So much glam also calls for a high celebrity quotient. Singer Lady Gaga has been roped in to perform at one of the party nights during the event, though the day has not yet been finalised. Sameer said his “good friend” actor Arjun Rampal had been ‘requested’ to adjudicate the line- up of celebrities turning up at the show, including Shah Rukh Khan and Abhishek Bachchan. And don’t be surprised if you see Sachin Tendulkar flagging of the inaugural race, but Sameer did not confirm that.

“The mehendi ceremony is over today, there are still a few days to the wedding. On the wedding day everything will be perfect,” said Jaiprakash Gaur when asked about the remaining work on the tracks.

“India has arrived in the 21st century to be a force to reckon with and we would like to take this opportunity to be a resounding success,” said Manoj Gaur, chairman of the Jaypee group, Jaypee Sports International.





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