Up, up and away

It is two thirty in the morning and we just had lunch. GP+ is out. The newsletter is finished. I am in the lounge (no airline mentioned) in Delhi. I have had a couple of glasses of wine and that has done wonders for the blood sugar level. I have dealt with all the normal abuse on the blog and I am waiting to get on the plane so that I can have some sleep, as it has been a while since I did any serious zzz-pushing. Still, I had a great time in India. A really great time. I absolutely loved the place. The bureaucratic stuff was a pain – particularly for a journalist – but it was worth the effort.

And for those who still have doubts, listen to the words of SebVet on the subject:

“I think some things are very difficult to imagine for us,” he said. “If you look where we come from, I think it’s hard to imagine things if you haven’t seen them. The really surprising bit for us… where sometimes you measure happiness in our lives, in our world, with what you have achieved, what you have etc. For the people here, it doesn’t really matter, they’re happy with what they have, even if you compare they have so little, but they are happy and friendly, helpful, respectful. Obviously I haven’t spent a lot of time here, so I can’t judge as well as people from India, but it was very inspiring when I had a bit of time to spend in the country.

“I went to see the Taj Mahal which is obviously a tourist-y thing to do, but driving there by car, and not falling asleep because the roads were pretty… it was a good adventure. It opens your eyes, as long as you allow yourself to look at certain things, so I think it was an inspiration and something that you should never forget.”

Asked again about India, he said: “You obviously only know from what people tell you. To be honest I didn’t expect anything really. I heard a lot of good things, I heard a lot of bad things. I prefer to come here myself and take a look, so I took a little bit of time to have a look outside the circuit. Basically what I saw is very inspiring, it’s very different. I think you will find the same if you go there. Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine for us, which is why I think you really have to come here, but it’s a country that I think is very interesting to travel around, because I think there are a lot of things you can learn. Some things you have to get used to, because they are so different, but it’s not a drama, it’s a different culture, the people are different.

“But as I said, they are very helpful, very friendly and happy, so that’s a good thing.”


When I get back to Paris, I will start spilling a few beans about the forthcoming F1 Commission. There is some really interesting stuff on the agenda.

32 thoughts on “Up, up and away

  1. Hi Joe,

    It was really nice to hear about Seb’s experience in India and what he had to say about India and Jenson’s as well.

    When the F1 pack descended on India early last week, I saw many negative tweets and comments coming from several folks. It was extremely painful to hear so much criticism about my country, but I kept quiet. Why? Because I knew that at first they would dislike India, then come to accept or like it and by the end of the race on Sunday, every one would have fallen in love with this country. And that’s exactly what happened. Because India grows on you.

    The biggest misconception however is about the F1 fan following here. Yes, only 95,000 turned up today. People forget how vast India is, life does not revolve around New Delhi. But next year the race will be packed to the rafters. New nation circuits like Bahrain, China, Turkey, Korea all lack the one thing that Indian F1 fans have: passion. That’s why F1 will keep coming back to India.

    That and Bernie’s money making mission, of course!

  2. I have to say I was disappointed in the circuit. Once again Mr Tilke seems to have delivered against all odds a circuit at which it’s almost impossible to overtake. On paper the wide corner entries, late apexes and long straights should have guaranteed plenty of overtaking, but what little I saw was way down the field, and with all due respect, I’m just not interested in who comes 9th or 10th. At least there was one major change of position up front – Alonso on Webber. Done in the pits.
    Can someone please explain to me how Tilke still has a job?

  3. If the lounge in Delhi is anything like the one(s) in Chennai it’s probably better to not mention them!

    I do like the fact that you’ve picked up on the strange inspirational energy about India though – as a country it can frustrate, it can have jaw dropping chaos, but it’s also got a reaffirming energy about it – where people’s genuine will to do their best tends to come through loud and clear.

    It was fantastic to see what looked like pretty full grandstands this weekend – I like to think this is a case of F1 doing the right thing in terms of driving an economy forward and capturing local zeitgeist in a way it’s singularly failed to do so often recently.

  4. If that first sentence was intended to generate laughter it certainly did from me.

    Its been refreshing this weekend to see a new flyaway race where the locals actually seem interested and turned up in decent numbers.

    Fingers crossed it will continue in the next few years, others have managed to give the appearance of local interest in the first year only for it to fade rapidly, but India feels like it might just work in the long term.

  5. Joe, thanks for your splendid efforts with GP+: again a super read! I have a question for you: during the live commentary Martin Brundle said that Red Bull never recovered a front wing that they lost in Monza and that there has been rumour in the GP world that it ended up in Maranello [hence their new front wing]. Do you have any insight on this? If it is true, it would make a mockery of all the Ferrari whinging over the McLaren photocopy job … maybe the F1 commission would be interested, though I suspect it is beyond their remit!

  6. Thank you, Joe. I thoroughly enjoyed your coverage of the Indian GP. Besides the race itself, I was really looking forward to your posts!

  7. It is good to Know you had a good time Joe.Seb Vettel words Highlight how Mature this guy is for his age .Now wonder he is a world champion .he is destined for greater things.India is a country of paradox you have people who are generous no matter how little they have and then you have people are so corruption people you just cant Imagine how bad these people are .It was a shame to see one of these people presenting trophy to Vettel I did not like the these pictures.Just google “Mayawati” I need not say more.

  8. I have to admit the whole track facility looked awesome on TV. It really looked like they spent the money on that facility.

  9. India is a fabulous place, once you get used to the natural order and your place in that as an outsider. Every single person smiles, no matter what their own circumstances.
    Bloggers – please support the reputable charities who work there, for example the Naandi Foundation. See http://www.Naandi.org

    Get to Rajasthan and Jaipur next year Joe, 4 hrs away by car.

    Incredible India is absolutely correct.

  10. It was hugely exciting to have Formula 1 in India. But all said and done there wasn’t much excitement in the race itself.
    Except for Button’s early move and Massa and Hamilton doing their usual tango nothing much happened.
    It would have been interesting if Webber was in 2nd place. Would the Red Bull team have asked Vettel to let him pass?

  11. Hi Joe, very happy you had a good time in India, and that the race weekend went well! This is particularly sweet for me, it makes my 16 years of work on this project worthwhile,especially as most people thought it might never happen!

    Take care

  12. Another side to Seb in addition to the statistics-hunting, finger-pointing, “That’s what I’m talking about!”, fastest lap-setting, winning machine…
    Nice to see the humanity and the lack of self-indulgent naval-gazing we get from some of the other drivers (okay maybe just one or two).

  13. I’m with you because India is an extraordinary country where the traveler can witness the full flowering of the human spirit. But let’s not romanticize poverty: it’s a poverty of opportunity and justice, not just material things. Some people are not, many of them not – certainly not the girl with the deformed leg I encountered in a market in Kashmir desperately searching beneath the stalls for fallen fruit. I gave her a bunch of bananas and think of her often. I still weep for others. It’s wonderful that Seb has felt this ecstasy; give him six months there and see what he says then. I loved the place, too; and after a year I emerged having learned one of the most valuable things I have ever learned: I am fortunate.

  14. I have become a real admirer of Vettel and I had been very critical. His comments on India really touched me, when you have a multi millionaire superstar athelete, speak with compassion about a culture and a people so far removed from his own lifestyle; it made me feel that he is a good roll model for the youth of today.

  15. I was never really a fan of Vettel but have to say he is improving hugely in terms of his communication and presentation as a public figure and a sportsman. This is almost analytical in its detail of observation and shows maturity and respect for another country and culture that is different to your own.

  16. I really want to visit India. And I really don’t… probably in equal proportions. It excites me and scares me. I’m a keen photographer and it is the dream location. This makes me tilt towards visiting. Thanks.

  17. “I have dealt with all the normal abuse on the blog”

    If its good natured abuse then it all helps the world go round.
    If not, then ignore these non F1 fans. Its not worth it, the true fans will always value your work and opinion.
    After all, I cant be the only grumpy git on planet earth.
    Congrats to the team on a cracking GP+, back slaps all round

  18. Thanks for that. Like many people, I have been annoyed by SebV’s finger wagging so a reminder that he is a pleasant young bloke (apparent from his pre-championship interviews) is welcome.

  19. What a fantastic ambassador Sebastian Vettel is for our sport.

    How often do you read comments made by sportsman that do not have a fundamental grasp on the fact the earth is made up of hundreds of different cultures and they call where they are a shxthole etc without any understanding of the place. People like Mike Atherton for instance, who you woulkd expect to know better. Tthen you read this quote you have used, which sound like a statement prepared by the Foreign Office as a soundbite.

    What a racing driver, what a world champion, but most of all. What a man.

  20. Hi Joe,
    I really do appreciate your blog and I’m very sorry if you are receiving abuse.
    I guess almost all of us who read your blog are, compared to yourself, completely and utterly ignorant of the real workings of the F1 world but I would hope you would forgive us. I mean if we knew everything we wouldn’t be reading your blog. So some posters might say things but it’s just their impression, based on what they know (or what they think they know).

  21. Great piece Joe, and great words by Seb too. This was a great first race, hopefully the first of a long run in India.

  22. There is still socio-economic terror in many rural populations, India not alone with this, i read there was some recent breakdown of well intentioned micro-finance initiatives, which are largely aimed at providing means to independence for women, and in turn protection against travesties such as the desperate sale of a female child.

    However, i am wholly against doom and gloom and negative cycles of thought, even if the world is hard, because when it is hard, it is better to be clear headed. So, i was very pleased to read this, some interesting stats on how it seems as the world grows ever more populous, the percent of humans in true poverty may be declining:


    Obviously that is just one take, and i have not the qualification or learning in the subject to comment further, but the thought has provoked me to read more, and I prefer awareness and learning to protest or wailing, and i hope you do to.

    Apologies in advance for the messy URL, but this review of The Difficulty Of Being Good, by Gurcharan Das, based on an ancient Sanskrit Indian epic, The Mahabharata, has placed the title on my reading queue, and i await its arrival eagerly:


  23. Not just percent, but actual numbers. The line i most appreciate from Joe in a large body of his recent writing, was it something along the lines of, it does not matter if 50 million is a small percent, it is fifty million souls. (sorry for paraphrasing)

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