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State of unease hangs over impressive circuit

Posted: 2011-10-28 10:03:19

Anyone arriving at the Buddh International Circuit on Thursday was given the distinct impression that he was underdressed if he was not accompanied by a JCB or at the very least wielding a dustpan and brush.

Whatever the assurances of the officials, it was difficult to dispel the notion that India's inaugural grand prix on Sunday should really have been sponsored by lastminute.com. Certainly all the hype of recent weeks began to feel a little premature.

It did not help that everyone came to the track bearing lurid tales of their adventures the previous evening, mostly involving traffic mayhem, sights of appalling poverty or the stench from open drains; India, at its worst, is best illustrated by Hieronymus Bosch.

At the circuit itself, however, beneath the layers of work-dust, behind the final and slipshod painting and landscaping, it was clear that something truly impressive had been achieved.

The drivers, though they had mostly only walked the track, were impressed by its quality, the appeal of its elevations and by the facilities provided and these, remember, are spoiled creatures from the most glamorous and show-offy of all sports.

Some of their rooms had an unfinished look while the constant power cuts and the bats flying around fed into an incipient sense of unease as the teams poured in during the morning. A surreal stairway led, for no good reason, to the roof of the main stand.

As the day went on, however, most people were registering a hesitant satisfaction. Yes, there were teething problems, fewer on the track itself and more in the team garages, with concerns over the power supply that needed to be resolved as the teams were finally due to get on to the track in their cars in first practice on Friday morning. But on the circuit, at least, there was nothing that seemed more serious than crude finishing touches

"The track is fantastic," said Ross Brawn, the Mercedes team principal. "You don't really know until cars start running around what the track [surface] is like. But the [look of the] track is fantastic. It has got an exciting combination of corners and straights. It has a very long straight and some very important corners, some combinations that will be quite tricky.

"The facilities are good. Clearly it has just been finished but we understand that and we are not criticising. We know that next year there will be another step forward with the facilities because it has been a massive challenge for everybody to get it finished, so we are very tolerant and understanding of the situation."