The new Buddh International Circuit, hosting the Indian Grand Prix for only the second time, proved popular with drivers last season on its inaugural event. It is the second fastest race track on the calendar after Monza, with an average lap speed of 131mph.
But it’s a tricky one on strategy. Last year the harder tyre was too slow relative to the softer one so the strategies were quite skewed. This year the teams will hope to play it like they did in Japan, favouring two stints on the hard tyre, but there is a possibility that one stop might turn out to be the way to go. As the teams have so little data to work with from last year and with different tyres this year, the free practice sessions will be vital in finding the best way to attack the race.
Another awkward thing here is that the temperatures drop as the race goes on and that can affect the tyres and the performance.
The track has some similarities with other new tracks designed by Herman Tilke, but it also has some distinctive features, not least quite a bit of elevation change; the track rises 14 metres from Turn 1 to Turn 3, which contributes to increasing the fuel weight penalty, in other words the weight of every 10kg of fuel you carry slows you down by more than at some other tracks.
Buddh is a combination of slow and medium speed corners and some long straights, which leads to a high average speed. The first sector of the lap is stop-start, with two straights intercut with hairpins, while the middle sector is a flowing section featuring some faster corners, including the banked Turn 10/11.
During practice and qualifying the adjustable DRS wing can be used for approximately 62% of the lap, roughly similar to Spa. The difference between qualifying lap time and race lap time will be quite pronounced as a result. In the race it will help overtaking on the straight. With 20 metre track width, overtaking is not a problem at Buddh.
Last year’s Grand Prix was a two stop race for most drivers, with race winner Sebastian Vettel stopping on laps 19 and 47, spending as little time as possible on the hard tyre. This year the gaps between the two tyre compounds are smaller and the strategies will change accordingly.
When you have read up on the race, why not see if you can find the best way to do the race using our Race STRATEGY CALCULATORRace Strategy Calculator?
Buddh International – 5.125 kilometres. Race distance – 60 laps = 307.249 kilometres. 16 corners in total. Average speed 131mph. A new circuit hosting a Grand Prix for the second time
Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 323km/h (with DRS open) 310km/h without
Full throttle – 70% of the lap time. Total fuel needed for race distance – 161.6 kilos (high). Fuel consumption – 2.65 kg per lap (ave)
Brake wear – average.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 16 seconds
Total time needed for a pit stop: 21 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (ave/high)
The Indian Grand Prix is the 17th round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship. Sebastian Vettel has won the last three races for Red Bull to take the lead of the drivers’ world championship and is the favourite for this race.
Fernando Alonso, who had led the points race since June, has slipped to second place, but Ferrari look set to bring updates to this race to try to get back into the game.
There has only been one race held at Buddh International to date, won by Vettel with Jenson Button second and Alonso third.
The forecast for the weekend is stable with temperatures likely to be high; somewhere in the low 30˚Cs and track temperatures up in the 40˚Cs.
Pirelli tyre choice for India: Soft (yellow markings) and Hard (silver markings). This combination was seen in Spain, Silverstone and Japan.
The circuit provides a similar level of tyre challenge to Silverstone, with 80% of the tyre energy of Suzuka. The high temperatures are likely to lead to tyre blistering, particularly on the shoulder of the tyre and camber angles will have to be conservative to cope with heat build up the long straights.
The high temperatures should suit the soft tyre, which has problems sometimes with graining if the weather is cool.
Pirelli believe that the soft tyre will be around 0.7sec faster than the hard. However at Silverstone and Suzuka the hard was the preferred race tyre for the second and third stints, which may well happen again in Buddh.
The surface of the track is not like many other venues, not particularly abrasive and as it is rarely used it is usually quite dusty at the start of the weekend and stays fairly dusty. That said, the track does improve quite a bit over the weekend, so tyre data from Friday practice will not necessarily translate to performance on Sunday.
The front-left tyre is usually a limiting factor in the race, due to the layout of the corners, while wheels spinning under acceleration out of the many low speed corners will also take quite a bit out of the rear tyres.
The pit lane at Buddh is long at 600 metres, but last year the fastest stops were in the 20-21 second range, so it’s not as bad from a strategic point of view as might be imagined; a pit stop is not too expensive.
The likelihood is that this race will feature two stops, with the front runners starting on the soft tyres from qualifying, pitting around lap 15 and then again around lap 38, both for new hard tyres. We are likely to see some variations on that from cars starting outside the top ten, particularly the Saubers (if they don’t qualify well) and any fast car which has qualified out of position.
Chance of a Safety Car
As this is only the second race on the track and there was no safety car last year, the probability is yet to be established. A Safety Car at Buddh would help drivers attempting to make one less stop.
Recent start performance
Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.
As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows:
[Note- This table is intended as an indicator of trends. Where drivers have had first lap incidents which dropped them to the back of the field, they are not included above, but are detailed in the notes marked * below. This affects other drivers’ gains, but the sample still shows prevailing trends of places won and lost at the start. Belgian GP start is not included as it eliminated many cars, skewing the sample.]
+33 Massa ***** *******
+27 Senna* ***** ********
+22 Alonso********, Perez***
+11 Schumacher* ******
+9 De la Rosa ****
+6 Kobayashi**** *********
+5 Hamilton, Petrov***** *******
+2 Vettel, Di Resta *****
-4 Webber********, Grosjean** **** ***** ********
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco
***** Di Resta eliminated lap 1 at Silverstone, Petrov did not start
***** Massa, Senna and Grosjean involved in first lap collisions dropping them to the back
****** Schumacher forced to pit lap 1 in Hungary (lost six places)
*******Massa (puncture) and Petrov (broken nose) pitted for repairs on lap 1 in Singapore after making contact.
******** Alonso, Rosberg, Webber, Senna and Grosjean either retired or dropped to the back following first-lap accidents in Japan
********* Button eliminated, Kobayashi pitted for repairs, on lap 1 after collision in Korea
Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and there have been some amazing performances; we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds this year.
The table below shows the fastest single stop by teams in the recent Korean Grand Prix, expressed as the total time in the pit lane. Results from the previous race are shown in brackets.
1. McLaren 19.447secs (1)
2. Red Bull 19.616secs (2)
3. Ferrari 19.930secs (3)
4. Mercedes 20.087secs (5)
5. Toro Rosso 20.151secs (11)
6. Lotus 20.211secs (4)
7. Force India 20.218secs (8)
8. Marussia 20.494secs (6)
9. Sauber 20.767secs (7)
10. Williams 21.137secs (9)
11. Caterham 21.489secs (10)
12. HRT 22.749secs (12)
Now you have read up on the race, why not see if you can find the best way to do the race using our Race STRATEGY CALCULATORRace Strategy Calculator?
* We’ve got two great competitions coming up shortly. One for 2 VIP Paddock Club passes for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the other for a JA on F1 hosted factory tour of Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton’s new team (and Nico Rosberg’s and Michael Schumacher’s current team!)
Keep your eyes pealed for details!