India Prepares for Formula One Debut

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India's Buddh International Circuit for Formula One racing, under construction in July.

Rohan Sangari, a student at Delhi University and an avid motor-racing fan, said he forwent his monthly gym membership and purchased a ticket to the F1 instead. “[I] wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the world,” said Mr. Sangari, who bought his ticket the day sales opened.
Others are traveling from further afield to the Grand Prix, which will take place at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida to the east of Delhi. It's not Monaco, but that hasn't stopped Mumbai-based accountant Animesh Gupta from applying for a week's leave so he can watch the race first hand.
“Attending the tournament would be witnessing history in the making,” said Mr. Gupta, who has built up a collection of more than 150 F1 souvenirs such as signed shirts, baseball caps, flags and key chains over the years. Last year he went to the Singapore Grand Prix, but now he'll get the chance to see one on home soil, albeit a fair trek from his hometown.
Companies have been quick to capitalize on the growing interest in India to promote their brands and garner support for their teams. Red Bull, for instance, has showcased its RB3 F1 racing car in Delhi throughout September, from DLF Promenade to, more ominously, Fortis Hospital.
Anish Arora, marketing specialist at Red Bull India, said that when the car was taken to Noida's Amity University, over 4,000 students gathered to catch a look. “It was quite a challenge for the security to refrain students from touching the car. They just couldn't stop” he laughed.
Dipender Bedi, a law student at Amity University, said that the “entire university came to life” when the sports car was unveiled, adding that many students bunked lectures to merely gaze at the car. (Ironic that a university “comes to life” when all the students are dodging lectures.)
Mr. Bedi further noted that the university Facebook page, which is usually “dull”, was buzzing with over 2,500 likes and 400 shares after pictures of the car were posted the following day.
“This was a dream come true for all of us” he said.
With Red Bull racing across the student community, close competitor Mercedes-Benz isn't tucking in behind. A senior official at company, noting that India has “tremendous scope” for motor sports, said Mercedes-Benz will launch India's first motor racing academy next year, with an aim to train and encourage young talent.
Talks of setting up the academy on the Buddh International Circuit are in advanced stages with Jaypee Sports International already on board as a partner, the official added.
The Indian Grand Prix starts with qualifying on Oct. 28 and ends with the race proper on Sunday, Oct. 30. The event will also include performances by international artists including Lady Gaga and Metallica.



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