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  • Writer's pictureSundeep Bhatia

Why the Indian Grand Prix means So Much

I associate India with my love of Formula one.At the tender age of nine my cousin from Delhi came to study in the UK and introduced me to a world of petrol,burning rubber and roaring engines which I have loved ever since.That was the era of Lauda and Hunt. In 1978 the same Indian cousin took me to see my first Grand Prix at Brand Hatch in Kent in the days before the part of the lap you could not see was relayed on large TV screens. In late October 1997 I went to India to get married and the only thought on my mind was would Damon Hill win the F1 Championship. Unfortunately I could not watch the race live because I had a more pressing engagement(quite literally!). However I managed to catch the rerun three days later as a newly married (not so young) man. It was a surreal experience watching Murray Walker’s classic commentary in a house in Delhi. Scroll forward to 2008 and I happened to be in Delhi for the deciding race of the season to see Lewis Hamilton take the Championship in the most nail biting manner! Perhaps you can therefore understand my excitement as to events in Delhi at the end of the month. I have been travelling to Delhi to see relatives since the age of four. During that time India has changed out of all recognition. In 1970 my parents would take suitcases full of electrical gifts and trendy clothes for relatives. The only cars available were Hindustan Ambassadors(Retooled 1940s Morris Oxfords) and ancient old Fiats. Tv was black and white and only broadcast a couple of hours a day. As I grew I would take tapes of chart music for my relatives which were highly prized. Now my wife and I travel to Delhi with empty suitcases.Everything is available in India(if you have the money). Everywhere you look there are lavish shopping malls with branches of Next,Debenhams and Marks and Spencer rubbing shoulders with Boss and Armani Emporiums. Bentley,Porsche and BMW showrooms abound. Jaguar and Range Rover are owned by Indian Companies. Bangalore is the second Silicon Valley . India’s economy is growing at near double digit rates whilst the Economies of Europe flounder. India will be a Superpower shortly and it’s arrival on the World stage is sealed by Pope Ecclestone bestowing a Grand Prix on its burgeoning shoulders. I have one hint for the drivers and commentators though.Whatever you do do not drive yourselves to the circuit !

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