After the strategic battle at Suzuka, F1 heads to India for round 16 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Sebastian Vettel needs to finish in top five to take his fourth consecutive world championship while rival Fernando Alonso will at least have to win the race or finish in second to have any chance of taking the fight to Abu Dhabi.
The 5.125km Buddh International Circuit made its way to the Formula 1 calendar in 2011 and became an instant hit among the drivers. The drivers regard it as one of the best modern circuits and appreciate the challenging nature of the track.
“I have really enjoyed our two visits to India so far. It's such a vibrant country and the support that we've received from the fans there has been fantastic." - Lewis Hamilton.
“It is not an easy track, because of a few complicated rhythm-breakers that are in there. The most difficult part is the uphill entry to Turn 3, because seeing the apex is practically impossible. So to drive a perfect lap around the Buddh circuit, you need a good driving instinct." - Sebastian Vettel.
Apart from long straights and slow chicanes, now a usual feature of Hermann Tilke designed circuits, BIC also boasts some fast flowing and banked corners like turn 10 and 11. Elevation changes add to the challenge of the circuit.
The first sector is mostly stop and go with two long straights(the pit straight and the back straight between turn 3 and 4) followed by hairpins. The second sector is fast flowing with a collection of left-right corners. One can clearly see the difference between two cars in terms of grip in this sector. The banked double-apex turn 10 and 11 is the highlight of the sector and the track while the final sector is all about maintaining the rhythm.
The biggest demerit of the circuit, which won't be on the calendar next year is that it has failed to provide a good enough spectacle for fans in terms of number and quality of overtaking manoeuvres. And that comes despite the fact that some corners are made deliberately wide to aid overtaking.
Ask anyone who has the best chance of winning this week's Indian Grand Prix and you'll get only get one answer - Sebastian Vettel. The German driver has led every single lap in its two year history and is likely to maintain that record considering his form since the summer break. Vettel has won each and every race since the one month August break and only a miracle or a mechanical failure can stop him on a track where he excels at.
Nevertheless, his teammate Mark Webber alongside Mercedes and Lotus duo would love to spoil German's double party. Lotus has done exceedingly well recently with podiums at last three Grands Prix while Mercedes would be looking to overtake Ferrari in the constructors standing. Fernando Alonso has finished on the podiums at each of the two Indian GPs and would be looking for another decent result in New Delhi, whether or not that is not enough for the title fight to extend by one week until Abu Dhabi.
Force India would be looking to maintain their 100% points record in their home Grand Prix despite their poor form post mid-season tyre change while Sauber would like to continue their successful run in recent races as they chase sixth place in the constructors standings.
2012 edition of the Indian Grand Prix was fairly straightforward with most drivers completing the race on a single stop strategy. This year Pirelli have gone a little more aggressive with their tyre choice and are bringing the yellow marked soft tyres and white marked medium tyres. The tyre choice will ensure a two stop strategy for most drivers unless the Safety Car has to be deployed. However, the chances of a Safety Car at the Buddh International Circuit are quite low given the size of run off areas at the 5.125 km circuit.
The total time spent during a pit stop in India including the pit lane time is somewhere around 20 seconds.
We'll be covering the Indian Grand Prix from the very paddock of the Buddh International Circuit. So keep a track of our website and our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ page for exclusive F1 news, images and updates straight from the paddock.