| Sebastian Vettel after winning the inaugural Indian GP in 2011 |
Calcutta: Two-time world F1 champion Sebastian Vettel is so focused on making it a hat-trick, this year, that he’s requested his team, Red Bull Racing, to not schedule possible distractions, like promotionals, during his upcoming trip to India.
“Vettel is leading the drivers’ table (six points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, a former champion), but four races remain and he’s determined to stay focused... He wants to make it three in-a-row... He seems obsessed,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph on Saturday.
There won’t, then, be another trip to Agra for a second look at the Taj Mahal. Unlike last year, the 25-year-old German would have been driven on the Yamuna Expressway and not experienced “organised chaos” on roads packed with “tuk-tuks.”
Vettel, it may be recalled, had retained his title even before the inaugural Grand Prix of India, at the mind-blowing Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida. He could, therefore, relax a bit.
Not so now.
As it turned out last October, Vettel won fairly comfortably, despite the challenges offered by a new course.
The first of the four remaining races is at the BIC next Sunday. The F1 caravan will then travel to Abu Dhabi, the US and Brazil.
Vettel, the youngest back-to-back champion, is expected to land in New Delhi late on Wednesday, while his Renault-powered car should arrive two days earlier.
Last year, Vettel had come with a day more at his disposal.
“As things stand, Vettel is to meet his engineers in Milton Keynes (the Red Bull Racing HQ, not far from London) before boarding his flight out of the UK... The engineers are scheduled to come on Tuesday morning and head straight to Greater Noida,” the well-placed source added.
Red Bull have, however, planned a promotional featuring Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber and their “Indian athlete (equivalent of brand ambassador),” national T20 vice-captain Gautam Gambhir. That’s on Wednesday in New Delhi.
Australian Webber, 36, is fifth in the drivers’ standings.
The promotional would have been off had the Kolkata Knight Riders made the semi-final of the ongoing Champions League T20. Gambhir is the Knights’ captain.
Gambhir is closely associated with Red Bull’s college cricket programme, which will be held in 12 cities (including Calcutta) across India this year.
Meanwhile, India’s soccer goalie Subrata Paul, the other “Indian athlete” of Red Bull, may be sent to Austria for more exposure. He’s already made a trip to Germany.
Footnote: With holders Mumbai Indians and former champions Chennai Super Kings out of the Champions League T20, Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni should now be at the BIC on the Big Day.