Tag Archives: Indian GP

The return of Narain Karthikeyan!

That was a very pleasantly surprising news, when HRT announced the lineup with Pedro De La Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan for the year 2012. I am not going into the specifics of sponsorships especially when even the last year HRT ran with TATA as the main sponsor. A season aborted last year and making a historic appearance during the Indian GP, I remember his exact lines.

Driving in front of the home crowd cheering [me] on is going to be a surreal experience, a once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely fortunate.

That he could make it irrespective of the competition so hard speaks volume about the confidence in the way he can pull it off. I am not talking about the monetary part, I have had the opportunity to see him at close quarters and let me admit that he has this confidence of pulling it off when people almost have written him off.

I remember even the first season, it was a great debut going by what he has been through, and sponsorship issues which stopped him from racing with the erstwhile Minardi for a couple of races in 2004. It was always his optimistic outlook which saw him in good stead even when the critics wrote him off and that included some of the reporters who were reporting F1 for the first time.

His presence augurs well for F1 in India and most importantly the Indian GP. This will also boost the fortunes of the young drivers especially the likes of Armaan Ebrahim and Aditya Patel and others. Karun ofcourse will be a reserve driver.

In his Q&A on the sidelines of the HRT announcement Narain says F1 is a continued dream…

For me, Formula 1 is a continued dream, it is always ultra-competitive and competing at the pinnacle of the sport is what I love. So I am very happy to have the opportunity to continue living my dream and I have every intention to make the best out of it.

As for the sponsors they will be able to leverage the last year one off sponsorships to a more sustainable year long affair. I am happy to see an Indian on the track who is a cynosure of all eyes in the paddock. In one of my conversations with a F1 driver, he saw Narain as a natural & gifted driver and lets not forget what his team mate at Carlin Motorsports the present day Mc Laren driver Jenson Button had to say. He was in praise of him infact he had beaten Jenson in British F3.

Talking about Carlin Motorsports, I am reminded how close Trevor Carlin was to owning an F1 team and that would have changed Narain’s career in F1 and also the Indian connection would have had far reaching effects. Having said that, lets resign to the fact like what Narain said all’s well that ends well.

With India solidly a part of the F1 calendar we can only hope for the best to happen and wish it had happened a little earlier it would have been far better and more robust Narain with better experience and far better team to contend with.

Lets hope for some real stellar drive from the fastest Indian! This season gives another opportunity for the Indian F1 fan to root for another car apart from the Sahara Force India F1 team.

Now the most important thing which made me blog this post was this part of the Q & A:

Q: How would you define yourself as a driver?

NK: One thing’s for sure – I never give up. I’m here, against all odds and expectations, which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I have worked incredibly hard, I believe in my ability and know that I am as quick as anyone else out there.

Here’s wishing him all the best and salutation to his never say die attitude which  has got him back to where he rightfully belongs.

R Senthilkumar

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Welcome 2012! Will it be Red Bull’s run this time too?

(Thats Me with Daniel Ricciardio at RBR Speed Street in Delhi!)

I am keeping a promise that I made to myself and this is a beginning of writing about the F1 Teams and the drivers regularly. This year the F1 circus is going to be really huge and we can start imagining that there will be a real contest on the cards. Unless of course that the guys at McLaren and Ferrari don’t take themselves seriously.

The way the seats got filled so early is a good pointer, there are at least a couple of seats undecided as I write this, nevertheless its a heave of sigh for quite a young set of people and of course quite an old set of people – read Pedro La Rosa it is now a settled affair.

The most important point here would be that its is becoming a sort of champions round akin to what we have in our National Racing Championship. All the champions are there when you have Kimi also joining in, it will be fun to watch. I am only sad that Adrian has not been confirmed yet and would be forced to comment if they came together at a corner or if any of them were to be racing together at some point in a race. I wish Webber and Massa also had a chance to be champions so almost half of the grid would be champions.

Now lets see how they stack up, Red Bull  remains the same team, and we should only be looking at their style and they can be a great team in the making, I am talking long term. If one team which has the potential to be a threat to Ferrari fan base in the long run without being in the motorsports business, trust me it could be only Red Bull. Not because I was the official blogger, but you should know the branding that Red Bull is capable of and how they were on top in both the forms of racing today – the circuit and the forests, I mean the racing and the rallying they have been there. They are building a loyal fan base, if you have doubt check out their Facebook page with 25 million likes and almost a million people talking about it.

Just check out this article which underlined how Red Bull has now really become the content and media in a way that they are doing a great job of most importantly selling the energy drink. I have been associated with the brand up close, and some of the branding association and the branding on ground is pretty close to the energy drink literally. Take the case of the Red Bull Racing Cans, the students get to make cars out of Red Bull cans and get to do a race like event with trials, qualifying and the race. For the first time when I watched, I didnt know they had a final with all the cars on the grid! In a way as one participant pointed out you had to control the remote very well and aerodynamics can wait, still it was fun to see the cars going all over and you know how they get stuck in a corner and et all. And there are appeals to the Marshals and Chief stewards after the results are announced.

Then the best one happened when I was with Team Red Bull Racing at Khardung La, running an F1 car at 18,380 feet above MSL to be precise is not everyone’s idea of owning an F1 team. Here’s how they make themselves heard and they are loud about that when they do it.

To top it all they had their Kart Fight this season in India. Its a nice way to be there, and I know for sure what they are capable of, setting the trend as they did a few weeks before the Inaugural GP blazing the road at the India Gate.

Once Yohann Setna in a conversation long ago had said, ‘You wont be surprised if you can see Red Bull on anything that moves, motorsports in particular, and most important they have only one product!’

If you can add up all these, they are slowly building up the momentum to be the franchise that everyone would want to associate with. And you can easily do it with so much of action on the ground and off the ground, at the races, rallies and even in the Himalayas!

On the other hand they have a formidable Young Drivers Program, and that’s getting really into the mode. Daniel Ricciardio who will drive for STR is a Red Bull prodigy in their terminology. You get to be the best under Red Bull.

Now back to the teams, Mc Laren and Ferrari  have so much at stake atleast start pretneding to be guys, and make a match, while 2011 was boring except a couple of races, we need to see some down to the last race happening this year in 2012. Would be interesting to see someone fail me in that aspect.

Button will continue in his form and Lewis will try a resurrection from the bad times he has had on track and his personal life. Fernando and Massa will be watched eagerly by all the F1 fans and that eventually means Ferrari fans at large.

Then there is Mercedes, with Schumi and Nico they are trying hard and probably they were the ones who tried hard last year. Lotus Renault, we can call them with full honours with the other Renault becoming Caterham, will love to see them challenge the guys on top. Will wait to see  how Kimi a part owner too, will play his part and make it happen, we are for sure in for some real fast entertainment. The Iceman is back as an owner/driver at Lotus Renault.

Down the order we have, Force India – Sahara Force India to be honest, only wondering if the Kingfisher’s problem should not rub off on to the team, its been an excellent progress to date for the team. Though I would have loved this team to have an Indian driver in Narain or Karun, I am sceptical of Mallya approving my idea. On that front, I think the erstwhile Lotus Renault did make us look bad when they didnt put Karun in for Indian race giving Mallya a big boost for his idea of Indian drivers not being upto the mark.

Then there is Williams, where are the glorious days Mr. SFW? But I have the highest regards for such an independent team on the grid, lets hope they get some pace and make themselves heard.

Sauber, our Amul’s Brand car if I may call it and then HRT, STR and Marussia to complete the list.

Personally sad to see Sir Richard Branson leave, he is my entrepreneurial hero away from the tech world.

Will write about the teams and the drivers in details in the posts to come.

Till then signing off!

R Senthilkumar

(Indian F1 fan)

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Sporting Moments – F1 Indian Inaugural GP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Indian Grand Prix had so much in stake for itself. The advertisement or the bad PR of Common Wealth has not been erased from the memory of the public. As the preparations were going on at a racy speed came the Supreme Court order that they move  25% of the ticket sales to a separate bank account till they decided if the sporting event needed a tax cut.

Cut to the party after the successful hosting of the Indian Grand Prix which was attended by the most venerated person Sachin Tendulkar, in a country where Cricket is a religion and God decided to witness the race, it was only fitting that he waived the chequered flag.

One of the most interesting takeaways of this whole exercise is that it has been able to showcase India as a wonderful tourist destination. !ncredible India was bang on as one driver after another went gaga about the Taj, the roads, the food, the pretty Indian women and ofcourse the rickshaw or the tuk-tuk.  Sebastian Vettel has vowed to learn the most important words in Hindi so that he would be able to impress a few charming godess as he put it the next time he is in Delhi.

It opened vistas for a lot of event management people albeit only for the month still it did give rise to hope for better days in the near future. The people who had sold their land in the meanwhile had made a killing and are living a luxurious life thanks to this F1 venture of Jaypee.

The success had its effect and it was not without reason. It was a show case par excellence in terms of private party holding an event of this magnitude. For all of us having to tend to disagree with what government working can be like this event with such mass gathering of over 1 lakh plus apart from the volunteers and the men working around the clock to ensure a great event was like raising hope over something’s that we normally don’t take for granted.

It also underlined that the public private partnerships, thought the government was  not directly involved, can work wonders for the sports. With the unveiling of the track we have already seen Mercedes open a training academy that’s the first here and third after Germany and China. So it would only spur the motorsports fraternity to test waters and make it a global hub.

It was also nice to see two support races in MRF Championship and JK Tyre Asia Series where all the future racers gave a shot to their dreams not withstanding the machinery they had was not that great, but the spirit was there for all to see. The next year the machine will be all the more bigger and better.

It has also opened up the newly christened iSeries on the lines of the IPL, which has already got enough of media attention and has lined up more almost all the franchise as I write this, the reason is very clear – the series has two of its races at Buddh International Circuit.

Also be rest assured that there will be a lot of Karting races happening and you can actually scout for some new venues which will come up in the days to come since that is the basic breeding ground for kids to enter racing early in their life. Force India already ran a One in a Billion in 7 cities and now Red Bull is doing a Kart Fight in 4 cities.

On a large level the economic benefits of this is yet to be realized to its full potential, while the racing weekend can rake in a lot of tourist and makes for a good tourist festival, the motorsports as an industry will only thrive with so many brand getting into the sponsorship arena.

Take the case of Amul, which partnered Sauber for a one off race sponsorship, gives ample scope for the brands to think global starting with such associations. The other brands like Vodafone and Renault already having tasted the success of being a part of F1 circus will increase their spend to better it the next time. But if you ask me the one brand which walked laughing all the way to the branding bank was Airtel. It made a kill with a branding by being the presenting  sponsor – Airtel Indian grand Prix and the rest was history. And I like it when you have two of the most competitive brands in Airtel and Vodafone vying for your  mindspace.

So the race has already got cracking with the calendar for next year. With such economic benefits the brands will only be ready not to miss the ship this time.

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Red Bull Speed Street all set to go!!!

The sound of an F1 car is sound of music to an F1 fan. And if it happens to be his favorite team Red Bull the fan will be already on wings literally! Get ready to enjoy the roar of an F1 engine and get set to witness the spectacle of speed on one of the iconic and famous streets in India, the Rajpath.

The inaugural Indian GP will be a great tribute to the Indian motorsports fraternity and is a reflection of India’s preparedness to make itself heard on the world stage. This will no doubt usher in an era of development in various sectors which are directly or indirectly associated with the sport. The already popular sport will rope in more fans than ever before. Probably the right time with half of our country’s population under 30!

So as we prepare to hear lot of engines revving & roaring, see smoking tyres, and burnt rubber, its Delhi’s turn to entertain the F1 fans. Red Bull Speed Street is an event by RedBull, organized under the aegis of FICCI and the Ministry of Tourism – !ncredible India. The background setting is the classical and historic India Gate and stretching all the way on Rajpath. Just the thought of the car speeding is enough to raise the adrenaline!

The car will be driven by the current HRT F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is a part of Red Bull driver Development Programme, and he is all set to entertain Delhiites with his machine!

As I write this the Red Bull Racing team had already landed in New Delhi and had a taste of Indian Architecture and a bit of history when they visited Red Fort today afternoon – a little time off awaiting the arrival of the some critical equipment! The Team was in its elements, thoroughly enjoying every moment at the Fort and had great fun, a trait which they have mastered it so well that it is becoming a habit to work effortlessly and win handsomely race after race!

Some pictures of Team Red Bull at the Red Fort!

 

Meet our Driver X in RedBull driver suit, who accompanied RBR Team around the Red Fort and he did get a lot of people to pose with him and click photographs. Already he has created a lot of buzz with his visits to colleges, malls, multiplex and have people stare at him like you see in the picture and some policemen asking him if he was going to do a stunt! Catch him in your camera and send us your pics!

So here are the updates, the Red Bull Speed Street is getting hotter with the car having been brought to Delhi and being assembled tomorrow at ITC Maurya Sheraton, Chanakyapuri in the morning and will be on for a practice. Saturday will be really a great day to watch out and don’t forget to bring your friends along!

Also be informed about the Travel / Traffic advisory from Delhi Police for the successful staging of the event. Be there to make it happen. You can also see the same here.

Join us on twitter and FB and update your timeline with this hastag #RBSpeedStreet

Lets get #RBSpeedStreet trending for Saturday! What say?

Follow me on Twitter @rsenthilkumar and get live updates to the event leading to the Rajpath Red Bull Speed Street!

And these updates will continue to the race weekend of our inaugural Indian GP during the last week of October!

R Senthilkumar (Indian F1 fan)

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Of Bahrain, Kubica and HRT…

The cancellation of Bahrain as it comes under circumstances beyond control of organizers makes a for a commentary on the political machinations under which sports are run. Given that Bahrain is one of the most waited circuit since its inception in 2004 has always been a wonderful advertising for the sports in this part of the continent.

There was no other alternative than the cancellation at his hour. We were already given the idea with all the reports and tweets emanating from there after the last test. While the teams were returning they were driving past militia and tanks and camouflaged men. Not a sight to behold on whatever the nationality we may belong to.

It is indeed a great loss and this will only make the other circuits in the Asian region work harder to make it up for the loss of an Asian venue if I may say so.

As I write this we have the first GP coming up at Noida near New Delhi and the f1.com site in its calendar has an * attached which says subject to approval. So the other Asian circuits or rather the F1 circus travels to are China, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore and ofcourse Abu Dhabi. So here we have the fate closing in to make 19 races from 20 as scheduled. It could be that the Bahrain can be back which is remote at this point in time or we may have one more race in some place but it has to be really worked out.

As regards testing Jerez or Barcelona will host the next testing. So there is one more testing which will not be on any of the real race circuits. We can see the best on the day at Australian GP in a totally different dimension that would be real surprise for all the teams.

We can also factor in weather this time around like last year which can play and make or break a race for the current champion and the future champion.

Talking of champions this year is getting sexier with so many champions on the grid. Micheal, Alonso, Lewis, Vettel, Button, that’s an impressive list by any standards and this will be really be great action from the word go. The sheer idea of imagining this is a nice experience I bet.

There is only one seat left to be announced that’s from Hispania, the team mate of Narain Karthikeyan, and hopefully the grid will complete the next week.

Robert Kubica needs a special mention an unfortunate accident at an inopportune moment, just the timing of it was harsh and unexpected in a fashion which shook the whole fraternity, I was filled with tears and had only this question why only Kubica, having seen the Canadian crash was too much on him. Pray he gets back and wish to see him behind the wheel at the earliest opportunity. I am more optimist than ever after seeing one of my superb sweet driver Massa get back in the way only F1 drivers could have done or can do. Kubica has given Nick his life line and hopefully he will enjoy every bit of it.

So will catch up as we watch the next best champion raring to go and also some testing in between.

Will write about the testing and the grid in the next post till then sitting happily fingers crossed.

PS: Here in India people wont listen to you other than Cricket till the final on 2nd April so its a kinda real tough to get them listen in :)

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Indian GP will be mirage…

According to a report in the Times of India, today the Government of India has rejected the request for transfer of remittance fee to Formula One Management for the conduct of the race by JKSP, saying “F1 is not purely sports. It is entertainment and this venture by JKSP is a commercial initiative,”

Now that leaves us far behind in terms of appreciating the value that F1 has been able to do commercially otherwise. Lets forget the politics and the insane things about the sport, but what I am not able to understand is the idea that the so called enlightened men in the sports ministry have.

As if they have been doing yeomen service to other sports without politics involved they have taken a moral stand. I quote “The proposed F1 race does not satisfy conditions which focus on human endeavour for excelling in competition with others, keeping in view the whole sports movement from Olympics downwards.”

Now that leaves us with a big question mark. We don’t yet know what will happen to an F1 dream that India will always have. This puts a larger question in terms of doing business in India. Even if it was a commercial venture and that someone is willing to do it what right has the Government got to stop something which is private if they want to call it that.

Add to this “The basic premise of the ministry is that F1 is not needed in India and the money can be spent on development of disciplines which have a wider base in the country.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over this. Lets see how they build up other games.

PS: JKSP still thinks it can pull off a coup with the Sports ministry, here is their version.

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