Formula 1 – Bangalore’s First Brush with Formula 1, the Numero Uno of World Motorsports
It was a bright and sunny morning on the 26th of October, 2011, and a perfect day for Lewis Hamilton to make a demonstration of his 2008 Formula 1 Driver’s World Championship winning MP4-23. While he made the demonstration, the Mercedes V8 engine of his car screamed to be heard amidst the roars of the jam packed crowd that had assembled to witness the Vodafone Mercedes McLaren road show, the first of the many more Formula1 visits the country is to experience in the coming days. Welcome to Airtel Indian Formula 1 Grand Prix!
“When I arrived here, I thought there’d be a few people in the grandstand but I’ve never seen such a response before. The crowd in Bangalore is more hardcore than the one at the British Grand Prix races, we have crazy crowds but I don’t think they’re nearly as passionate as the people out here”, said Lewis Hamilton in his interview to the leading newspaper ‘The Times of India’.
Well he had his reasons to make such a statement; the organizers Vodafone too would never in their wildest of dreams have expected such a huge fan turnout. Not to mention the fact that the demonstration happened on a work day when most of Bangaloreans were supposed to be in their respective places of work, study, etc. That there were no accidents and untoward incidents can simply be credited to it being just another ‘good and lucky day’.
Amongst the people who had a tough time that day, during the start and through the demonstration, were the cops. They were in a total fix! The organizers had given them a figure of approximately 4000 people, while the crowd that swelled up that day was more than 20,000. Everything that we know as ‘security’ was thrown to the winds. It finally seemed that the crowds had their way and had to mind themselves to discipline, for the show to start. Lewis Hamilton had to finally drive the car in a very cautious manner, forget his ‘aggression’ he displays on F1 tracks, and the victim of his latest aggressive ways being poor old Felipe Massa of Ferrari, at the recently concluded Singapore F1 Grand Prix. The crowds were all over the place, including the track on which this F1 mean machine was supposed to zip by.
The cops have now demanded an explanation from the organizers for such a crowd turnout. Little do they know of the magnetism, a driver like Lewis Hamilton possesses; what F1, what Lewis, what Mercedes, how should the shaken cops know? They have heard of only cricket and Sachin Tendulkar!
Well the crowds who turned up got what they wanted, though a little less. They didn’t get to see the car speed beyond the 2nd gear, Lewis was extra cautious to cause any blunder, which has lately become common place on F1 tracks, the very reason for why he is currently standing at 5th in the race for the F1 Drivers Championship. Thanks to his team mate Jenson Button, the F1 Drivers Championship fight continues into the next race. Vettel and Red Bull didn’t get to celebrate Vettel being crowned Champion a second time the last weekend, but celebrate they will in the coming weeks. Vettel is unshakeable with his current lead of 124 points to his closest rival Jenson Button, who is second with 185 points.
Lewis Hamilton has definitely gone bonkers over the crowd turnout and is really excited about coming back to India the following month for the Formula 1 Airtel Grand Prix of India, scheduled on days 28, 29, and 30. ‘Huge thank you to all the fans who came out to see me. The atmosphere was unbelievable, I cant wait to come back and race here next month’, he tweeted, and also, ‘Just on the way to the airport after an incredible day in India. I drove my 2008 MP4-23 through the streets of Bangalore!!!’. Lewis loves eating 'Chicken Tikka masala' too, a mouth-watering Indian spicy delicacy, which seems is his only Indian connection as of now.
The condition of sports in India can be assessed in Lewis Hamilton’s own words, “One thing I can see is that people in India love sports. The problem is that there isn’t enough infrastructure in place, unlike in Europe. With the Indian GP coming through though, there will be a lot sponsors coming in and that can help build a good base for youngsters. Youngsters in India should continue having a dream and not let anyone or anything take that away from them”. What Lewis does not know is that India is a country where one minister had previously declared Formula 1 is no sport! Anyway for the encouraging words Lewis spoke, are sponsors listening? The crowds demonstrated to you what the potential for sports is in this country. Pace up!
Mr. Ashok Keny, Managing Director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) on part of which the event happened was all thrilled about the ride he had with Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes SL 63 AMG in a ‘hot lap’, and has plans to construct a racing track just off the NICE road. This should sound as music to all the racing enthusiasts who are participating in illegal drag racing on the NICE roads and killing themselves, for want of proper racing infrastructure.
So, what did the crowds who assembled, bearing the hot sun get to enjoy? They heard the scream of the F1 engine, live, a first for many, perhaps, for the most of them assembled. Lewis showed them the speed of the F1 car, zipping to at least 150 km/hr within the designated track which was not more than 300 meters. The crowds roared and screamed their hearts out. With security going for a toss, Lewis was in giving high-five distance from the crowds; imagine what this is in F1 safety standards, when an F1 machine is on the track?
Well, it was not racing, but just a demo, and people got what they wanted. A zipping and spinning F1 car, together with a world wide phenomenon and heart throb, Lewis Hamilton.
Amidst all the smoke that emanated from the donuts Lewis Hamilton made of his car and the cheering crowds that went frenzy with excitement, the stage has been set for the events to follow in preparation for the very first Formula 1 Airtel Grand Prix of India.