Indian Grand Prix diary
skysports.com is in Delhi this weekend, braving the traffic (and cattle) as it travels to and from the Indian GP.
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: October 29, 2012 4:32am
A particularly hurried entry, this, as we're leaving for Delhi airport in about half an hour's time. Another bus - that kind of sums up our week here in a sense. Sometimes the travel takes no time at all - sometimes you can walk to and from the track - but then there's the other times. This has been one of those times!
As Londoners will be aware, two-and-a-half to three hours of commuting takes a lot out of your day, although I doubt that Boris Johnson would be too thrilled at a comparison with Delhi's travel infrastructure. I can hear the constant beeping of horns as I type.
I got a ground-floor view of the Delhi commute last night, in the shape of a taxi that took me from A to B in hair-raising fashion. The lorries seem more wayward than ever when they tower over you, and there was a difficult moment when the driver had a three-way conversation with me and his mobile phone.
What didn't help was that a tuk-tuk was heading right at us. I pointed out as much and the taxi driver swerved at the last minute. He didn't seem too put out by this. A headline in yesterday morning's paper read, 'Woman crushed to death by truck'. I suppose it's a fact of life.
Anyway, I'd better sign off now as we're heading off to Abu Dhabi this afternoon. I suspect the commute might be a little less hectic there.
It was easy to sympathise with Kimi Raikkonen in Thursday's drivers' press conference. When asked how he was enjoying his Indian experience so far, the Finn pleaded ignorance. It's a common defence for Kimi when faced with the press, although the suspicion is that it's usually feigned. But in this instance, it was genuine. "I came last night at one o'clock, so I've only seen the motorway and the hotel," he responded. "The hotel, outside it, looks nice. I have no complaints so far."
Although our hotel has some views that don't look so nice, there are no complaints this end either. To quote Raikkonen at, probably, three races out of five, "It is what it is". By it, I mean the crushing poverty. I think "there but for the grace of God" as the bus passes another row of shacks; empathy floods, a bit like that open sewer they back on to. Mostly, I wonder why F1 is here.
It's the conundrum the sport finds itself in at many of the newer races: should the money be better spent elsewhere? Or can large events like this make a difference by boosting incomes? I suppose the latter carries more weight here in that, unlike some other recent additions, the Indian government does not consider the Indian Grand Prix to be a priority.
I'd expected such sights between the motorway and the hotel and I also expected the journey to be what it is. I sat with Johnny on the trip from the airport - with hindsight, sitting over a rear axle with all the damping qualities of a housebrick was not a good idea. Johnny's coffee flew everywhere as he pondered what Ferrari might do to counter Red Bull whilst we all giggled like children on a fairground ride.
Dogs, even cattle, roam free, whilst the tooting of horns is positively encouraged. Rather than display a hotline number asking whether it has been driven carefully, lorries here instead carry signs suggesting you beep them during the journey - an inevitability, really, given their tendency to veer this way and that. In the battle between lorry and tuk-tuk, there's only going to be one winner.
Caught in a jam on our way back from the track on the first night, we spotted a man in traffic carrying a gold statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha. Standing in what is nominally the fast lane, it seemed like the most normal thing in the world to him. "Do you realise we could have flown from London to Paris by now?" an exasperated voice behind me said.