Lewis Hamilton in India with UNICEF

In between the Indian Grand Prix and the weekend in Abu Dhabi I travelled with UNICEF UK to the state of Madhya Pradesh in India to see what UNICEF is doing about the hidden crisis that is affecting nearly half of children under 5 living in India – hunger and malnutrition.

I met mothers with the tiniest babies I’d ever seen at the district hospital, who were born prematurely or at a low birth weight because their mums didn’t have enough to eat when they were pregnant. Before the centre was set up most of these babies would have died at home but now with the care that it provides their chance of survival is over 85%.

Another shot from the trip and how UNICEF are working with the Indian government to provide life-saving care for mothers and their babies across India, just like the ones that I have met. Visit http://www.unicef.org.uk to find out more.

Fernando Alonso at “Handwashing Day”

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, in his role as a UNICEF ambassador, visited a school in Turgapur to take part in the charity’s ‘Handwashing Day’ campaign, aimed at encouraging people to wash their hands using soap in a country where over a 1000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by a lack of drinking water and basic sanitation.

“It’s very important to explain the importance of this procedure, which is so straightforward for us, but often impossible in a country where many families don’t have a bathroom in the home and sometime they don’t even have a home at all,” said Alonso. “It is even more important to put out this information through schools, because children are a very important part of our society and the solution is not complicated, nor does it cost much.

“It’s very gratifying to be able to support initiatives that concern the health of children, but I’d be even happier if this was something available to everyone by right. As with all sports, Formula One wants to get close to the culture of the countries we visit, building up relationships and giving an impetus to solving problems like this one.”


Preview of 2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix Buddh International Circuit

Kimi : 2007 comeback not possible.  McLaren : We’re going to push to the end.

The 17th Formula One World Championship Grand Prix has come to a relatively new motor racing circuit, the Buddh International Circuit at New Delhi, India. Debuted at 2011, this circuit is known to be very challenging to the drivers, due to the wide corners, multi apex corners and also the changes in elevation. Sebastian Vettel said it’s like a roller coaster. Since the circuit is new, it is still possible to break the lap record before the change in regulations in 2014.

The circuit length is 5.125 km and the 60-lap-race is 307.249 km long. It has one of the longest main straight (1060m) and also one of the longest pit lane (about 600m). Race strategies are important to make sure the time spent in the pit lane is “well spent”. Turn 3 is unusually wide to allow drivers to take different approach down the DRS main straight and improve overtaking. One of the most unique section of the circuit is the multi-apex Turn 10, 11 and 12. It’s a huge, bowl-shaped double-apex right-hander, like the Spoon at Suzuka Circuit, but tightens at the exit. Also, not to forget the left-hander at Turn 5, 6 and 7 which is very tricky to master, a good traction without sacrificing too much speed.

Pirelli will be bringing their P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Silver hard tyres, a conservative combination provided that the circuit is still new. An extra set of soft tyres are given to the teams on Friday FP1 session for extra testing and data collection. Tyre loadings is expected to be high especially on the high speed multi-apex Turn 10, 11 and 12. The elevation changes through the course of the circuit and the drivers have to take account of that when braking.

Red Bull is still leading the pack on both constructors and championship standings with Ferrari and McLaren challenging its position. It is a great timing to race in a real racing circuit this weekend rather than a street circuit and we can see the teams and drivers give everything they could to the race. While Kimi Raikkonen has expressed his thoughts on the chances of getting the title, McLaren and Ferrari have not given up any hopes in the constructors championship standings. We’ll watch another epic battle between the top teams again.

Lap Record : 1:27.249 – S Vettel (2011)

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F1: Ways of Seeing

What two people—an avid fan and a semi-ignorant reluctant follower—experience when they are part of the same audience watching the same race.

The sensory enjoyment of this sport, seen live, is absolute—colour, smell, sound, straights, curves, et al. But I have to head into the lounge and to a TV set to make complete sense of what’s happened. Vettel took pole, didn’t he? What was his time? Oh, and was that Massa who crashed out on his second timed lap? The volume of sound means that one can’t hear the commentary on the loudspeakers around the track, and the information on the big screens isn’t always legible, given that it’s actually meant for TV. Perhaps adding dedicated electronic ‘scoreboards’ would help.

But as we crawled back, squeezed between Jaguars and Audi R8s as part of a jam on the swanky Yamuna Expressway, I had a happy heart. My mother’s final comments on the race had eaten away my cynicism. She looked content as she said, “At 52, I, who hasn’t even ever watched a live cricket match, got to watch an F1 race. Now isn’t that something?” It surely is.

Read both reports here.