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Missing zeal or calm before storm?

By Roshan Thyagarajan, Bangalore, Oct 22, 2012, DHNS: 0:54 IST

With only days remaining, the buzz around Indian GP is missing

Jaypee Sports International and some in the motor sport fraternity claim the interest levels ahead of the second edition of the Indian Grand Prix in Greater Noida, remain as encouraging as during the inaugural year.

They, however, appear to be in a minority, at the moment at least.
Riding on the euphoric wave, the opening edition of the Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit attracted huge crowds, which nearly filled the facility that has a capacity to seat a little over 1 lakh people.

Given that the Formula One circus was never really expected to make its way into India after a few early attempts had gone in vain, everyone was blindsided when JPSI announced that the race would be held on October 30. There was also a novelty factor to it for the simple reason that one of the richest and the most glamorous of events in the history of sport was landing in India.

A year has passed and things have simmered down a bit. Tickets are being bought but at a relatively slow pace; companies are not flocking in by the numbers to strike a deal with the event while the interest the celebrities showed last year is conspicuous by its absence.

It’s not just the spectators who have lost that urge, even if only marginally, a couple of Indian drivers too seem to be missing that zeal towards their home Grand Prix.

Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, who have worn national colours on their sleeves in F1 for many years, were both part of the opening edition of the GP and were so thrilled at their dream of F1 in India coming true that they would overcome by emotion everytime someone congratulated them at the paddock.

HRT’s Karthikeyen put on his best performance in 2011 at the BIC as he finished 17th while Chandhok, much to his dismay, watched from the pit garage as a reserve driver for Lotus. Calmer from having expended all their energy in realising and accepting the presence of F1 in India last year itself, the two drivers looked ahead without getting overtly emotional.

“Yes and no,” said Kart-hikeyan when asked if it was still hard for him to digest Formula One in India. “Of course, it is still surprising when you look back but it has sunk in. It is still something that gives us a great of pride and joy. Now though the focus is on performance. Last year, there were so many factors to look at. This time I will only be paying attention to clocking some fast times.”

“The intensity has obviously come down but that’s normal for the second year at any track,” he noted. Chandhok, who joined JRM Racing in the inaugural edition of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) after failing to rope in a sponsor for the 2012 season, said he was disappointed to not be part of the crew as he will be taking part in the final race of the WEC in Shanghai on the same day.

“It will be a lot calmer now. People can put behind that novelty factor and get on with the race. It is still something that is special and will always remain for some of us,” the former HRT driver said.

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