F1: Hamilton ready for 2011 Indian Grand Prix

PUBLISHED: 19:55 22 October 2011 | UPDATED: 13:55 23 October 2011

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton thrills F1 enthusiasts in Bangalore, India [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton thrills F1 enthusiasts in Bangalore, India [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

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FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton is looking to follow his Korean Grand Prix podium with another in the inaugural 2011 Indian GP next weekend.

"You can’t believe how many people are aware of Formula 1 and how many are looking forward to the race next week."

Lewis Hamilton looking ahead to the Indian Grand Prix

As the F1 circus heads to the sub continent for the first time and a new grand prix circuit at Greater Noida, Hamilton hopes to be challenging at the front again.

The 26-year-old from Hertfordshire was runner-up behind Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel in Korea on Sunday after bagging pole position in qualifying.

When asked whether Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be competitive at the Buddh International Circuit, Hamilton said: “It’s too early to say, but I think we’re set to be competitive at all of the final three races.

“We were quick at Singapore, Japan and Korea – and I think the pattern at the front has sort of settled down now as we reach the end of the season.

“I think we have a car that can be quick anywhere, so I’d like to think we’d be in the hunt again next weekend.”

Following his split from girlfriend, X Factor USA judge Nicole Scherzinger, Hamilton will be hoping to steal the headlines in India for his motor racing ability.

Stevenage-born Hamilton, 26, has already experienced the passion for F1 racing in India.

The McLaren driver thrilled an estimated 40,000 Formula 1 fans last month when he drove his MP4-23 – the F1 car in which he won the 2008 FIA Drivers’ World Championship – through the streets near Bangalore.

The event, created by phone giant Vodafone, transformed a local street into a mini Formula 1 circuit, complete with grand stand and pit garage; giving Indian F1 enthusiasts a taste of what they can expect ahead of the country’s inaugural grand prix 35 miles south of Delhi on Sunday, October 30.

The British driver said he was “overwhelmed” by the number of people who attended on the day and how passionate F1 fans are in India.

On his most recent Vodafone promotional trip to the country, Lewis said: “The last time was just crazy – just after Singapore, we did a demo run in Bangalore and were expecting 5,000 people to turn up.

“On the day, there were around 40,000 fans – it was just incredible.”

FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship

1 Sebastian Vettel 349 points

2 Jenson Button 222

3 Fernando Alonso 212

4 Mark Webber 209

5 Lewis Hamilton 196

6 Felipe Massa 98

7 Nico Rosberg 67

8 Michael Schumacher 60

Looking ahead to the Asian nation’s first grand prix, Hamilton said: “You can’t believe how many people are aware of Formula 1 and how many are looking forward to the race next week.

“There’s already a great deal of knowledge about the sport – I think it’s going to be a big deal.

“India’s a sport-mad nation – mostly, it’s about cricket, which is understandable because they’re a very successful cricketing country, but I really think the people of India are going to take Formula 1 to their hearts.

“The reception we’ve had in the last few years has been greater than I could ever have predicted and I think the whole country is ready for something new and something exciting.”


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