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Vettel Could Be Crowned F-1 Champion Before a Half-Empty Stadium

Racecar Driver Sebastian Vettel
Racecar driver Sebastian Vettel has won nine out of 15 races this season, including the last five. Photographer: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images for Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel could be crowned Formula One champion this weekend in front of a half-empty stadium, according to projected attendance figures from the organizer of the Indian Grand Prix.

Sameer Gaur, chief executive officer of promoter Jaypee Sports International Ltd., said in a telephone interview last week that he expects 50,000 to 52,000 people to attend the Oct. 27 race near New Delhi, a figure that includes corporate guests. Jaypee’s website says the Buddh International Circuit has a capacity of around 100,000.

Gaur said Jaypee had sold 20,000 tickets to non-corporate race fans as of Oct. 18, but that he expects a late surge in demand to boost that number to between 40,000 and 45,000.

“We’re hoping sales will increase as the race nears,” Gaur said. “Sales usually pick up towards the end. Things should be OK.”

Last year 65,000 attended the Indian Grand Prix, down from 95,000 in 2011. Both races were won by Red Bull’s Vettel. F-1 Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone told the Indo-Asian News Service in July that India will be dropped from the 2014 race calendar and return in early 2015.

Vettel needs a top-five finish from the Grand Prix to guarantee a fourth-straight world championship, a feat achieved only by fellow German Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina. The 26-year-old has won nine out of 15 races this season, including the last five.

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