PREVIEW TO THE INDIAN GP
(All images courtesy of Renault Sport F1)
The FIA Formula One World Championship enters its final furlong this weekend with the penultimate double header of the season. First in the back to back weekends will be the Indian Grand Prix, held at the Buddh International Circuit in the Greater Noida suburb on the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi.
The event made its first world championship appearance last year to great acclaim. The 5.125km track was designed by Hermann Tilke and features a multitude of different corners, cambered turns, long straights, gradient changes and challenging conditions to test drivers and engineers alike.
The Renault-powered Red Bull Racing of Sebastian Vettel won the inaugural race last year.
Indian Grand Prix facts and figures
The Buddh circuit features three long straights; the pit straight, the long run between turns three and four and the shorter spurt from there down to turn five. The power sensitivity is therefore slightly higher than average, with approximately 65% of a Qualifying lap spent at full throttle. The longest straight is 1.2km, with the engine running at wide open throttle for 14s as the car negotiates the dips and crests that characterise this circuit.
As per usual, seventh gear selection will be governed by the longest straight, as well as the compromise between qualifying and race DRS usage. With the start-finish and main straight running opposite directions, any change in wind direction will at least be partially offset by the corresponding benefit along the other straight. Turns one and four are both possible overtaking opportunities.
The second part of the track is much twistier, shifting the emphasis from outright power to engine drivability. Turns 10 and 11, a radial turn with a profile similar to the Spoon Curve in Japan, is one of the most challenging. The drivers ‘play’ with the pedal over a relatively prolonged period as they attempt to find the limit of the car. This sustained period of lateral G will also test the engine’s oil and fuel systems to their limits.
The dust kicked up from the sandy fields around the circuit creates a very hazy atmosphere and small particles may be ingested into the engine. The robust air filter based on desert rallying will help preclude any blockages, but the filters will be thoroughly checked between sessions and replaced where necessary to avoid any power loss.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
I have good memories of India from last year. It is a great track that challenges every element of the car and driver. The first half of the circuit is a little like Korea with long straights and a lot of time spent at full throttle. You need the engine to be strong at the top end in this part. Then after turn 5 the track becomes a lot twistier. There are some different speed corners, which go off camber at times, and this is where you need the engine to be very smooth so you can get the right lines. We know that this will play to the strengths of the Renault engines so let’s see how we go this weekend.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
The Buddh International Circuit is an interesting circuit, with a variety of corners and speeds throughout the lap. Like Korea, the first part of the circuit is mainly long straights linked by low speed corners, so we work to deliver good top end power and acceleration but also rear stability under braking. Additionally, the circuit is very slippery with the dust, and any additional grip will be reflected in the lap time.
There are several long, radial turns, such as the turn 10 and 11 complex, where delivering sustained torque in the medium rev range is required. Balancing out the need for high top end power with the requirements for good medium and low speed driveability adds to the challenge, but with one year of running at the track we now have a lot of data available to fully optimise the engine for the circuit before arriving.
This year, with the championship in a crucial stage, getting all elements of the package on point will be crucial, so any extra advantage will be rewarded. No pressure...!