Buddh Free Practice 1: Champion elect Vettel means business
25 October, 2013
It might have been mighty hazy during the first free practice session of the Indian Grand Prix weekend, but one thing was crystal clear: Sebastian Vettel means business this weekend; he went about confirming his authority early on at Buddh International Circuit by claiming top spot at the end of the morning session.
On a weekend on which Red Bull could enjoy a double crowning – the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles come Sunday afternoon – they got going in the best manner possible by annexing the top two spots on the timing screens, with Vettel setting a best time of 1:26.683 and teammate Mark Webber 0.188 seconds adrift.
Best of the rest was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, just under a quarter second off the top time, with teammate Lewis Hamilton fifth. Splitting the Silver Arrows was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus.
McLaren have tended to look strong on the first day of recent grand prix weekends, gradually falling down the order as weekends progress. In India they looked strong in FP1 with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, sixth and seventh respectively. The question is whether they can sustain the level when it matters.
Felipe Massa was fastest of the Ferrari pair, in eighth place, a full second down on Vettel’s best.
Next up, in ninth, was the Ferrari powered Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top ten in the Williams.
Out of the top ten was Fernando Alonso, who ended the session 12th – a gearbox problem late in the session did not help his cause. Alonso was sandwiched between the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso pair on the timing sheets, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were 11th and 13th respectively.
Also way down the order was Kimi Raikkonen who ended the session down in 17th, over a second and a half down on Lotus teammate Grosjean.
Force India reserve James Calado was on duty in place of out-of-sorts Paul Di Resta. Calado ended the session 18th. Di Resta will take over the cockpit from FP2 onwards.
The circuit was very slippery, and the air hazy as F1 engines fired up in anger once again (perhaps for the last time?) at Buddh. Conditions on track were tricky, patrticularly Turn 5 where the likes of Pastoir Maldonado and Calado had some hairy moments.
Nevertheless all eyes are at the top of the timing sheets where the indications are that Vettel and Red Bull are on track to claim the double for a fourth year in a row. After all the triple World Champion need only finish fifth on Sunday to make it four World Drivers’ titles in four years. Betting against him winning in India would be foolish. (Apex)
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 25 October 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.683||24|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.871||0.188||17|
|15||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:28.468||1.785||20|
|18||14||James Calado||Force India-Mercedes||1:29.197||2.514||22|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:29.413||2.730||24|