Greater Noida: Race cars speeding through long straightaways and careening to negotiate tight curves, causing a deafening noise, were a novelty for the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) here exactly a year ago when the Formula One caravan ignited the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. They are all back on Oct 26-28 and this time there is plenty at stake for the drivers and constructors, fuelling high expectations.
To add to the razzmatazz will be the glitterati from glamour world of fashion, Bollywood and, of course, sports. There will be plenty of music to go with the sound and fury of the automobiles. They will all be in the fast lane, joining international celebrities. Then there are unending media meets for the drivers and constructors to play their mindgames ahead of the race, the promotional events and partying into the wee hours. There is noise all round and for fans that's the thrill of motor racing.
For the drivers there is much more. A win here for Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso in the 17th round of the calendar will give them a much needed cushion going into the last three rounds of the season.
The momentum is undoubtedly in favour of Red Bull's Vettel (215 points), the first man to win the Indian Grand Prix and winner at the last three weekends in Korea, Japan and Singapore. Considering the nature of tracks in the remaining rounds favouring the Red Bull team, it will be difficult to stop Vettel from his third straight title.
To turn the tide, Alonso, who is trailing Vettel by six points, will need to come up with something special in his Ferrari to outwit the German in a faster car. The Maranello outfit has promised "aggressive development" on the car in the last four races to back Alonso's charge for his third world championship after 2005-06.
Kimi Raikkonen, a distant third in the standings with 167 points in his comeback season, will be racing at BIC for the first time.
There will be enough Indian interest too for the fans with the presence of Sahara Force India and Narain Karthikeyan on the grid.
Force India will look to maintain their fine run in the second half the season and close the gap on sixth-placed Sauber in the constructors' championship.
The Silverstone-based outfit is high on confidence after the fourth place efforts at Spa and Marina Bay and its aim for the home race is a double-points finish through Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg.
Narain, the lone Indian driver on the grid, is hoping to better his result from 2011 when he came 17th in an HRT.
The buzz amongst the F1 circles is enormous ahead of the three-day affair and all are expecting the second edition to replicate the success of the first one.
Race organisers Jaypee Group were commended for the spectacular show and the biggest challenge for them this time has been getting the crowds to the circuit.
Around 95,000 fans turned up on the Sunday last year but despite the reduction in ticket prices, only an estimated 50-60,000 people are expected at the race Sunday.
However, the one thing that promises great action is the drivers' love for the circuit and longer DRS (drag reduction system) zones.
"Loved the track layout last year, not just because I won the race. With an average speed of 235km/h, the course is the second quickest of the year after Monza," said Vettel
"There is a lot of elevation change around the lap which adds to the fun, from as much as eight percent downhill and up to 10 percent uphill; it's like a roller coaster! It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar," he said.
As they say, let the five lights eliminate!