Greater Noida - The Formula One Indian Grand Prix might have seen a steep fall in spectator turnout, but it had all the makings of a Bollywood masala flick, and that thrilled the 65,000 fans who did not mind commuting almost three to four hours to watch the show.
There was drama, high octane action, romance and plenty of star power.
The circuit might have been far from any inhabitable area, but the organisers did everything in their power to make it comfortable for the fans driving in.
Like last year there was a shuttle service which was provided from the car park to all ticket holders, making it a bit easier for them to reach the circuit.
Vodafone, who are one of the sponsors of the McLaren team, paid off the day’s toll tax so that the traffic could flow smoothly on the DND flyway.
A random survey showed that a lot of youngsters, who were there at the inaugural race last year, were there this time, too. At least five out of ten youngsters IANS talked to in the Main Grand Stand, said they were coming a second time for the race.
It was seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s last race in India and it had all the emotions packed in it. Alas, the great man failed to complete the race and there was no farewell befitting his stature.
Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh came as a guest of the Ferrari team and was seen with Bollywood actor Geeta Basra, said to be his girlfriend.
Among others spotted were Bollywood actors Neha Dhupia, Gul Panag, Dino Morea, Sonali Bendre with her husband Goldie Behl, Mandira Bedi and Bengali actress Locket Chatterjee.
Olympians too turned out in numbers. Sushil Kumar (silver medallist in London), Vijay Kumar (silver medallist), Gagan Narang (bronze medallist), Deepika Kumari and Vijender Singh were all there. Narang also had the honour of waving the chequered flag with Hrithik Roshan excusing himself at the last moment.
F1 management and Jaypee Group, promoters of the Indian GP, remained unfazed about the 30,000-dip in the number of spectators for the second year of the race at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) after a massive 95,000 packed the circuit for the inaugural race last year.
The BIC capacity stands at over a 100,000. A top Jaypee official told IANS that only 3,000 complimentary passes were distributed.
Those who came got to see history being written as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel recorded his fourth consecutive victory. The German driver, currently the championship leader, became the first person since the legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna in 1989 to have led every lap for three races in a row.
It was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, however, who took the cake as the crowd favourite. During the drivers’ parade before the race, the crowds went bonkers to get a glimpse of the two-time former World Champion.
When the Spaniard, who started in third position, overtook Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber on the back straight for second place, the crowd went into a frenzy, clapping and cheering for him and waving the Ferrari flag.
Last year the Circuit courted controversy. This time around it was devoid of any such incidents and was managed very well. That sends out a clear message that the Indian GP is here to stay.