Vettel dominates Indian Grand Prix as Alonso keeps title battle alive
28 October, 2012
Oct.28 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel made it four wins in a row as he thoroughly dominated the Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit, but a gutsy drive to second place by Fernando Alonso keeps the world championship title fight alive with three races left in the season.
The Red Bull driver has seldom dominated a race weekend in quite such ruthless fashion. He started by topping the timing sheets in all three free practice sessions, claiming pole position and then claiming maximum points, for the second time in two years, on Sunday afternoon. He now leads the championship race by 13 points.
It was a faultless display and propels Vettel and his team a step closer to their third F1 World Championship title – drivers and constructors. His 26th grand prix win will be remembered for the fact that he has now led every lap of the past three grands prix – matching the feat accomplished last by the late great Ayrton Senna in 1989.
Vettel summed up his afternoon, “It has been incredible. To come here both years, get the pole and win the race is fantastic. It is a very special Grand Prix and I really like this circuit. A big thanks to the team. They’re all pushing very hard. All of us are working hand in hand – whether here on the track or in Milton Keynes.”
Despite Vettel’s dominance, ‘Drive of the Day’ should go to Fernando Alonso for his sheer gutsiness and tenacity. On the first lap, the Ferrari driver, who started from fifth on the grid, muscled between the two McLaren’s which had started from the second row. Then when the DRS became active he blasted past Jenson Button into third where he stayed for most of the race.
Mark Webber, who tucked in behind teammate Vettel from the moment the red lights turned off, held station but a KERS issue, which has haunted him in the past, resurfaced. Sensing an opportunity Alonso needed little coaxing and on lap 48, with Webber clearly in trouble, the Ferrari driver pounced to claim second place which he retained until the end.
For Alonso it was a well earned and vital second runner-up finish. He managed to limit the damage and keep the title fight very much alive as the championship heads off to Abu Dhabi for the next race this Sunday.
Alonso said, “It is not easy to fight Red Bull but we will never give up. Well done Red Bull and Sebastian but we want to be happy in Brazil, not only here. I am sure we will do it. We lost points but this is what we expected this weekend as we are not fast enough, but we lost [a] minimum [of] points and there will be better races to come. We were fast in a straight line but still missing grip in the corners – hopefully that will come in the next few races.”
Webber could do little to defend, but had enough in reserve to stave off a concerted challenge by Lewis Hamilton very late in the race.
“I enjoyed the fight today. It was a difficult race and difficult for me to get into a rhythm Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were very strong and without KERS it was very difficult,” reflected Webber.
Not long ago McLaren were the team to beat – winning three in a row: Hungary, Belgium and Italy – in India they were expected to be the main challengers to Red Bull’s dominance. In qualifying they were best of the rest, but believed they would be able to challenge for the win on race day.
Alas this did not transpire, as they were out muscled by Alonso and neither Button nor Hamilton looked like podium contenders, except late in the race when Hamilton honed in on Webber’s stricken RB8 but to no avail. Hamilton missed out on the podium and had to settle for fourth, with Button crossing the finish line a dozen seconds adrift, to claim fifth.
Interestingly, Button denied Vettel a ‘grand slam’ (pole, win and fastest lap) by setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.
Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen ran nose to tail for the entire afternoon. The setup on Raikkonen’s Lotus lacked top end speed and although he was more often than not within one second of the Ferrari ahead of him, he simply did not have the grunt to get past – the setup on the E20 compromised his top end severely. Massa in turn made no errors and again delivered a healthy bunch of points, although again no match for his teammate, on his way to sixth. Raikkonen was seventh and in his slip stream as they crossed the line.
Nico Hulkenberg gave local fans something to cheer about as again he impressed, this time to claim eighth place – after starting 12th – for Force India in their home race. The German outclassed teammate Paul di Resta who finished 13th.
Keeping out of trouble was Romain Grosjean, who had a somewhat subdued weekend where he struggled to match the pace of his Lotus teammate but nevertheless finished ninth.
Final point went to Bruno Senna in the Williams. The Brazilian spent most of the race tussling with his teammate and chasing Nico Rosberg for the last point. In the end he got the better of both.
Pastor Maldonado looked set for a points finish, but a tap by Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber ended these ambitions early in the race.
Sauber’s other driver Sergio Perez was also involved in a couple of questionable DRS zone weaves and blocks, then miscalculated his overtake on Daniel Ricciardo which caused a puncture on the Sauber. A few laps later the Mexican retired from a race where he was perhaps a tad too desperate.
Perez explained, “The damage to my car happened early in the race. After 10 laps my tyre was completely destroyed so we had to stop. I thought I’d given enough room to Toro-Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, but it didn’t seem so.”
Michael Schumacher was the first casualty of the race when his Mercedes was a tagged by Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso which resulted in a right rear puncture and a long three wheeled journey back to the pits for the seven time world champion. His day was basically over from that moment on and he packed it up on lap 55.
Vettel’s dominant win will no doubt hog the headlines, but in truth the big story is Alonso keeping the title fight very much alive. Ferrari tweeted their sentiments shortly after the race: “Thirteen points to recover: everything still possible.”
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit – Sunday, 28 October 2012
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||60||Winner||1||25|
|2||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||60||+9.4 secs||5||18|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||60||+13.2 secs||2||15|
|4||4||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+13.9 secs||3||12|
|5||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+26.2 secs||4||10|
|6||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||60||+44.6 secs||6||8|
|7||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||60||+45.2 secs||7||6|
|8||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||60||+54.9 secs||12||4|
|9||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||60||+56.1 secs||11||2|
|10||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||60||+74.9 secs||13||1|
|11||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||60||+81.6 secs||10|
|12||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||60||+82.8 secs||16|
|13||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||60||+86.0 secs||15|
|14||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||60||+86.4 secs||17|
|15||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap||18|
|16||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||59||+1 Lap||9|
|17||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||59||+1 Lap||19|
|18||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||59||+1 Lap||20|
|19||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||59||+1 Lap||24|
|20||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||58||+2 Laps||21|
|21||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||58||+2 Laps||23|
|22||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||55||+5 Laps||14|
|Ret||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||42||Brakes||22|
|Ret||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||20||+40 Laps||8|
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