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The Buddh International Circuit is a motorsports race track located in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. Built in 2011, it hosted the Formula One Indian Grand Prix from 2011 to 2013.

Buddh International Circuit’s Background

Plans for an F1 circuit in India first emerged in the late 1990s, with multiple locations considered including Calcutta, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. However, those early plans failed to materialize due to various issues.

In 2007, a tentative agreement was reached between the Indian Olympic Association and Formula One Management to host an Indian Grand Prix in 2010. After delays, a site in Greater Noida was selected for construction of a new circuit. The Buddh International Circuit broke ground in 2009.

The circuit was designed by German engineer Hermann Tilke. Its design incorporated feedback from F1 teams to maximize overtaking opportunities. Construction cost over $400 million USD and moved four million cubic meters of earth.

The track officially opened on October 18, 2011. Just two weeks later, it hosted the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on October 30, 2011 as the 17th round of the 2011 Formula One season. The race was won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who started from pole position, and the crowd had the opportunity to cheer on Narain Karthikeyan, one of the two F1 drivers from India in history.

Buddh Circuit Design and Layout

The Buddh International Circuit has a total length of 5.125 km (3.185 miles) and runs clockwise. It was designed to have multiple high speed sections to enable F1 cars to reach top speeds over 310 km/h.

Some key elements of the circuit layout include:

  • A 1.06 km main straight between Turn 3 and Turn 4, one of the longest in Formula 1
  • High speed bends from Turn 10 to 12, which impose heavy lateral forces on cars
  • Various elevation changes up to 10% gradients. The track rises 14 meters in the first three corners alone

The pit lane is also one of the most extensive on the F1 calendar at over 600 meters in length. This increases the challenge of race strategy.

Inaugural pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel praised the circuit for its challenging, “rollercoaster” like layout with the added variable of elevation changes. Other drivers compared it favorably to classic tracks like Spa-Francorchamps.

The Indian Grand Prix

The Indian Grand Prix was held at Buddh International Circuit from 2011 to 2013 before being dropped from the Formula 1 calendar.

All three races were won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who swept the pole positions as well. The results were as follows:

  • 2011: Vettel qualified on pole and led every lap of the race en route to the win. Jenson Button set the fastest lap for McLaren.
  • 2012: Vettel again won from pole while teammate Mark Webber finished second. Button again had the fastest race lap.
  • 2013: Vettel took his third straight Indian GP win, leading all 60 laps from pole position. Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap.

The 2013 race turned out to be Indian GP’s swansong. Although originally scheduled to take a one year break in 2014 before returning the following season, the race was ultimately cancelled altogether amid issues over taxation.

Cancellation and Future

The Buddh International Circuit is located in Uttar Pradesh, while Formula One’s commercial rights holder is based in the United Kingdom. This led to a tax dispute between the state government and Formula One Management which ultimately doomed the race.

Uttar Pradesh classified Formula One as entertainment rather than sport, and sought to levy higher entertainment taxes on the race versus the tax exemptions granted to other sporting events in India. With the circuit unable to pay F1’s sanctioning fees under those tax burdens, the race was dropped after 2013.

Attempts to restore the Indian Grand Prix in 2015 and 2016 failed to resolve the tax issues. Since then, the Buddh International Circuit has mainly hosted national racing series. Its only international event since 2013 took place in 2016 with a round of the Asia Road Racing Championship motorcycle series.

In September 2022, MotoGP announced a deal to add an Indian motorcycle Grand Prix to its calendar beginning in 2023. This has raised some hope that Formula 1 could eventually return as well if the tax barriers can be overcome.

The Indian Grand Prix was a popular event during its three-year run, with large crowds attending despite expensive ticket prices. Restoring it remains an open goal, contingent on commercial factors.

Other Racing Events

In addition to the Asian Road Racing Championship (ARRC) motorcycle round in 2016, the circuit has hosted various national racing series over the years. Notable events include:

  • JK Tyre National Racing Championship
  • MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Championship
  • T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship

The truck racing national championship held rounds at Buddh from 2014-2017. An event for the GT1 World Championship sports car series had also been scheduled for December 2012 but was ultimately canceled.

Now that MotoGP is returning in 2023 with its own Indian Grand Prix event, more international racing seems likely to follow. Several major domestic championships already compete annually at Buddh International Circuit as well.

Between the existing national-level races and the facility’s recent MotoGP deal, Buddh Circuit still sees plenty of action even without Formula One. If the F1 tax issues can someday be resolved, India would certainly welcome its Grand Prix back.

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