Paddock Postcard from New Delhi 28 Oct 2012
After such a warm welcome for last years inaugural race, the paddock couldnt wait to return to the bustle and buzz of New Delhi. As well as soaking up the atmosphere, there were plenty of pre-race activities to keep everybody busy.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, in his role as a UNICEF ambassador, visited a school in Turgapur to take part in the charitys Handwashing Day campaign, aimed at encouraging people to wash their hands using soap in a country where over a 1000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by a lack of drinking water and basic sanitation.
Its very important to explain the importance of this procedure, which is so straightforward for us, but often impossible in a country where many families dont have a bathroom in the home and sometime they dont even have a home at all, said Alonso. It is even more important to put out this information through schools, because children are a very important part of our society and the solution is not complicated, nor does it cost much.
Its very gratifying to be able to support initiatives that concern the health of children, but Id be even happier if this was something available to everyone by right. As with all sports, Formula One wants to get close to the culture of the countries we visit, building up relationships and giving an impetus to solving problems like this one.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn also went back to the classroom, launching the F1 in Schools™ Technology Challenge in her home country of India.
Introducing F1 in Schools into India is a logical step with India joining the F1 world championship, said Kaltenborn. I am a great supporter of Formula One initiatives which embrace the future generations and promote a greater understanding of the industry, the employment opportunities in motorsport and the role it plays in engineering advancement. F1 in Schools will, I am sure, prove to be very popular with Indian students as an exciting, fun and innovative education-led activity and I look forward to meeting the first Indian F1 in Schools National Champions next year.
Red Bulls Mark Webber, meanwhile, swapped his race suit for whites as he joined Indian cricketing superstar Gautam Gambhir for an impromptu game of Indias favourite sport at the Noida International University.
I managed to bowl a few quick deliveries at Gautam - which he unsurprisingly smashed away for four, said the Australian. It was good to talk about the different disciplines as well - I'm a huge cricket fan so I really enjoyed it.
It was a great experience, not only playing cricket but also to get to know Mark as a person added Gautam. It was interesting talking about how he goes about his business in Formula One which I feel is the toughest sport in the world. I got to know a lot about how he prepares himself for such a big event, it is always a great pleasure knowing about Formula One and I had a fantastic time.
Mercedes Nico Rosberg also tried his hand at something new, attending a speed painting session with artist Rabin Bar. Rosberg modelled for the artist and later signed the completed work.
Down at HRT, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan participated in the annual Pirelli tyre-fitting challenge. De la Rosa and Karthikeyan both had to fit a P Zero tyre from scratch: mounting the tyre on the rim, inflating it to the right pressure and balancing it to the correct weight.
The whole process takes around two and a half minutes in the hands of a Pirelli fitter, but De la Rosas winning time was two minutes and 47 seconds: 22 seconds faster than his team mate. As his prize, De la Rosa won a 50 percent scale P Zero wind tunnel tyre used by Pirelli and the teams for aerodynamic development at the beginning of the season. The consolation prize for Karthikeyan was a set of Pirelli espresso cups.
I think fitting the tyres is a lot harder than driving on them! said De la Rosa. The whole process is a delicate balance between precision and strength; there is a definite art to it. As well as being a lot of fun, this challenge really shows how complex and important all the work that goes on behind the scenes in Formula One is, which most people do not get to see.
Its becoming pretty commonplace this season to sport new helmets at different events and Lewis Hamilton has been wearing a distinctive Indian design at the New Delhi round. The new-look lid incorporates some wise words in Hindi: believe in yourself enough, and anything is possible. The Briton has also been showing off a couple of new tattoos, including one of Michelangelos La Pieta, this weekend.
The Buddh International Circuit paddock has been busy throughout the meeting. Bollywood stars Ajay Devgan and Sonakshi Sinha rubbed shoulders with world champion drivers steward Alan Jones, while the chequered flag will be waved by Gagan Narang, the Commonwealth Games winner who took the bronze for India in the recent London Olympics in the 10m air rifle category. And the legendary Carlos Santana will play the F1Rocks™ concert on Sunday evening.
Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone celebrated his 82nd birthday on Sunday and was toasted by paddock friends before the on-track action got underway. Drivers and team principals turned out for the festivities, including McLarens Lewis Hamilton and Martin Whitmarsh, Red Bulls Christian Horner, Mercedes Ross Brawn and Ferraris Stefano Domenicali.
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