"The Indian Grand Prix circuit is something of a revelation"
After a successful leap into the unknown, Formula 1 returns to the Buddh International Circuit this weekend for the second edition of the Indian Grand Prix.
The circuit immediately established itself as a favourite among the drivers when it made its debut on the calendar last year, drawing comparisons with Belgium's popular Spa-Francorchamps.
Inaugural winner Sebastian Vettel returns to India looking to record a fourth successive victory as the F1 season heads towards its conclusion.
With two long straights, both of which are DRS zones, and a wide range of corner types, including a quadruple-apex right-hander at Turn 10, Buddh poses a number of intriguing challenges.
The 1.2km back straight, where a speed of 200mph can be achieved, provides the best chance for overtaking, though clever driving means opportunities could also open up into Turn Five and Turn 16.
One issue with the circuit last year was that it was said to be dusty and organisers have looked to combat this by bringing in mechanised dusters to clean the track.
Located in Greater Noida, the Buddh International Circuit is around 40km away from the Indian capital city of New Delhi.
Buddh track facts
Race distance: 60 laps (307.249km)
First grand prix held: 2011
Circuit length: 5.125km
2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull
2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel
Lap record: Sebastian Vettel 1min 27.249secs (2011)
It is situated in the Jaypee Sports City complex, which also houses one of the largest golf courses in Asia, while a state-of-the-art 40,000 capacity cricket stadium is scheduled for completion next year, with capacity eventually increasing to 100,000.
The Buddh International Circuit itself can hold around 150,000 spectators and despite the fact that a ticket costs the equivalent of a month's wage for India's poorer citizens, the inaugural Grand Prix was well attended and it is expected to be the same again this weekend.
What the drivers say...
Force India's Paul Di Resta: "It's obviously our home grand prix and a special weekend. It's one of those new-style Hermann Tilke circuits so there's a good mixture of corners, plenty of run-off and a few areas where overtaking is possible. We found last year that the grip built up quite quickly and the track was exciting to drive with some satisfying corners."
"India has succeeded where many of Formula 1's new generation of circuits have failed, in blending a state-of-the-art modern facility with a properly challenging race track.
"This year's grand prix is only the second at the Buddh International Circuit but already the drivers are unanimous that it is one of the best venues on the calendar, combining overtaking places with a series of demanding, fast corners.
"This serendipity could not have happened at a better place because everyone in F1 recognises the importance of this event in the world's second largest country and a rapidly emerging economic power house."
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel: "I loved the track layout last year, but not just because I won the race. With an average speed of 235km/h, the course is the second quickest of the year after Monza. It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers."
Mercedes' Michael Schumacher: "The Formula 1 debut of India last year was certainly a success. There were a surprising amount of fans during the weekend, and the track itself really is cool. We drivers were given a very enthusiastic reception, and it will be interesting to see if this enthusiasm has remained as strong."
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton: "I love India - the people, the colour, the noise, the spectacle, the chaos: it's an intense and vibrant country, with some of the most enthusiastic and friendliest people we meet all year. The circuit, too, is something of a revelation. It has more in common with a great track like Spa than it does with any number of the more modern places we visit."
HRT's Narain Karthikeyan: "Obviously this is the most anticipated race on the calendar for me and there is already a great buzz around the event. The layout of the Buddh International Circuit is a great mix which makes it challenging for the tyres as there are very few conventional straight-forward corners."
2011 Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel became the inaugural winner of the Indian Grand Prix as he led from start to finish. It was a straightforward victory for the German, with McLaren's Jenson Button climbing up from fourth to second before fending off the challenge of Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber.
Indian Grand Prix 2012, day two
- Saturday, 27 October: Practice 3: 06:30 BST; Qualifying: 09:30 BST; Qualifying highlights: 13:00-14:15 BST, BBC One
Indian Grand Prix 2012, day three
- Sunday, 28 October: Race: 09:30 GMT; Race highlights: 17:30-19:00 GMT, BBC One