Formula 1 prepares to make history this weekend as it heads into the previously uncharted territory of India for the country's first ever grand prix. With India's growing economic importance the race makes commercial sense for the manufacturers and sponsors, but pre-race fever - helped by having Indian drivers and an Indian team owner - means tens of thousands of fans are expected to descend upon the Buddh International Circuit. And the hope is that the race, unlike so many new venues, will prove a lasting success with the local population.
The race will also provide an interesting test for teams and their drivers. Already thousands of simulator miles have been done, and the expectation is that the Buddh circuit will be one of the fastest on the calendar.
There is no substitute for real, practical experience, however, as teams try to find the best set-ups, gear ratios and strategies, opening up the possibility for one or two surprise results if teams can gamble and get it right early on.
The one man who doesn't need to roll the dice is Sebastian Vettel. The German proved in Korea that clinching his second world title has done nothing to diminish his focus or appetite. Vettel has a keen appreciation of the sport and its history, and there will certainly be an appeal in entering the record books as the first winner of the Indian Grand Prix.
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