We are at Buddh International Circuit, reviewing arrangements for the second Indian Grand Prix, as we find a team of politicians roaming here and there. “This time we’re personally here to make sure everything goes smoothly,” the Congress worker explains. “You see, the race last year had a huge set of problems.” The “set of problems” probably refers to the innocent dog that trespassed the F1 track during a practice session last year, the power cut that interrupted a press conference, and the bat that made a guest appearance (though thankfully not while the race was on, saving a couple of lives in the process), among many others.
Yes, Indian politicians have got weary of reading satire about themselves on sites like NTMN, and to “prove”themselves, they’ve decided to make a trip to the F1 Circuit. “This year, after those big power grid failures, people are even more confident than ever of something like that happening. We shall see to it that this time not even a rat makes its way across the track,” chips in another. “We have to prove ourselves to the country, and involving ourselves in this million-dollar fuel farce is the best bet.”
Attendance issues: Our reporter puts this question: “Attendance was a major problem here last year. On the race day, it was just about 80%; that of the preceding qualifying session was only about half! What will you do about it, now that YOU’re here to solve problems? The tickets still cost anything between Rs 3000 to Rs 21000.”
“To encourage sales, we are thinking of offering free finger food to the people sitting in the stands,” replies one disgruntled official, who has seemingly taken the food issue to the hilt. “Hopefully that should boost sales of tickets.” Apparently, the organizers had refrained from doing this last year since they were worried about the littering that would accompany it. There were stalls near the stands, but no food was allowed in the stands. Permitting it this year would mean keeping a more watchful eye on the quality of food served (and the littering too, of course). And after Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi has expressed that he wants to try out the famous Indian butter chicken, there is more reason to be wary.
However, the Jaypee Group—the organizer—is displeased with the politicians investigating into every aspect of the event. “I think we can manage this by ourselves,” said Founder-Chairman Jaiprakash Gaur, “We know exactly what went wrong with last year’s events, and we have been working on corrective measures throughout the year. Some of the changes they are suggesting are ridiculous.”
The most “ridiculous” among these decisions is—upon the Congress’s insistence—having Robert Vadra give out the first-place trophy. Last year, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati had awarded the trophy to Sebastian Vettel.
In addition to this, an unidentified official reveals, “Earlier, we thought we’d have Robert wave the chequered flag as well, but there is a slight possibility that people might actually see this as favouritism going around. The next best alternative is having Shah Rukh Khan or Hrithik Roshan do it.”
However, after all has been said and done, the race track does look comparatively cleaner than had been the case last year. Many drivers had complained about the dusty conditions of the track during the inaugural race. Among them was David Coulthard, who had said that the track was covered with “a thick layer of dust which probably won’t disappear until the end of next year’s race”.
Public interest for the event is evident. When an Indian fan was asked about Narain Karthikeyan’s expected performance, he replied, “Well, looking at the statistics, Karthikeyan has consistently positioned himself at 24 in the event of 24 participating drivers, and at 21–22 as well, in the event of crash retires. He has no chances of getting any better here.”
Last seen, the politicians were swapping apps on their Apple iPhones and directing the food to go through stringent quality checks through their throats.