• Paper Round - Indian Grand Prix

'An exercise in tedium and elitism'

ESPN Staff
October 30, 2012 « Di Montezemolo 'ready to give it 120%' | HRT gives Ma Qing Hua another outing »
Fans press up to the fence to catch a better view of the race © Sutton Images

The local media has given the second Indian Grand Prix a cautious thumbs up but flagged concerns that the poor levels of spectator comfort could turn off more fans in the coming years.

While expecting a drop in numbers from the 95,000 estimated to have turned out to watch the inaugural race in 2011, there was slight disappointment that the fall-off was as high as it was, with only 65,000 thought to be inside the Buddh International Circuit this year.

"Last year there were loud grumblings abvout the over-priced and bad, in fact stale, food that was sold to spectators," wrote the Times of India. "The organisers seems to have paid little attention to this shortcoming. Many in the grandstands were seen throwing away this food."

An editorial in the same paper was far more scathing of the whole venture. "Another year and another exercise in tedium and elitism later, India's annual brush with F1 racing is, thankfully, over. Much like F1 cars themselves, it had something of a blinkTake the money factor. Even with ticket prices slashed by some 40% from 2011, the cheapest ticket was Rs 2000 (£25). This is far too expensive even for our urban population. When you price a sport out of the reach of the common man, how can you expect it to have any sort of broad-based support?

"And then there is the fact that while most international sports are about national pride, F1 is a corporate event. Sure, there is a Team Force India, but it has no Indian drivers. There is no one Indians - used to identifying with and cheering on their sporting heroes, whether it's the cricket team or individuals like Saina Nehwal - can identify with. And in a sport already so disconnected from popular Indian sentiment, that is a death-blow."

The Hindustan Times reported massive traffic jams blighted the day with some people stuck in queues for hours after the race. "Police had barricaded some roads for VIP movement, making the problem worse."

The same paper flagged a different problem - noise - with 300 spectators seeking medical attention on race day. "The sound levels were very high, maybe that is what was causing the discomfort," said Dr Dilpreet Brar, who was in charge of the medical facility and seemed unaware of what an F1 race involved. He also said a number of people sought help after dust triggered asthmatic reactions.

Even with a different approach to matters, the Economic Times of India still focused on the negatives, with the opening line being: "Formula One returned to Greater Noida for the second year at an event marked with lesser attendance and celebrity clamour than in the inaugural Grand Prix, and yet one that showcased top-notch motor sporting action for fans." The report added that the attendance figure was "including complimentary passes" and that "the presence of celebrity cricketers and film stars were markedly less this year".

Empty seats in the grandstand as the attendance fell by almost 30% from 2011 © Sutton Images