Ready for second lap

SP

As checks of black and white fluttered over grey tarmac, and the waft of flaming rubber gave way to the sweet aroma of premium champagne, the inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix smoke-plumed to a halt. A halt to the proceedings on the 5.14-kilometre stretch of the Buddh International Circuit, that is. For faster than Sebastian Vettel could say 'Namaste' in the post-race press conference, the men responsible for putting together the inaugural F1 weekend at Greater Noida in extraordinary circumstances huddled together in the race control tower, already preparing for their next challenge — Season Two.

If meeting the October 2011 deadline was the grandiose task at hand for the architects of the first Indian F1 race, then sandpapering the many edges in time for October 2012 has been primary cause for the sale of sleeping pills in and around the circuit in the last 12 months. Lending cosmetic touches to the track and building the paraphernalia around the venue proved to be as daunting an ask, if not more.

"Constructing any sporting venue is a hard job. But motorsports, in terms of technicalities, lifts the bar to another level," says Farhan Vohra, GM race operations. "Yes we put together a fine job and yes the race was a success, just ask the drivers. But yes, due to the time crunch, there were several areas that we could not pay enough attention to." And to the trained eye, like Fernando Alonso's, there were many.

"The circuit has a little bit of everything. Long straights and very wide entries for the hairpins, which allowed us to try some overtaking manoeuvres and put on a good show on Sunday. But, it was a very narrow line of average grip and outside that line there was a lot of dust and low grip," said Alonso, minutes after taking the last podium spot in the race. "The starting point is already very high, on a scale of zero to ten it's nine. But the ten will hopefully be reached very soon."

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