Buddh Free Practice 2: Vettel untouchable on day one in India
25 October, 2013
Sebastian Vettel promised to treat the Indian Grand Prix like any other race, despite a fourth successive title beckoning, and lived up to his word on Friday practice with the sort of domination Formula 1 fans have come to expect.
Red Bull’s 26-year-old German was fastest in both sessions, with Australian Mark Webber the only man close to matching the speed of his teammate.
Such is Vettel’s mastery of the Buddh International Circuit, a track swathed in a haze of pollution south of New Delhi, that he can boast of being top in every practice session held there since the opening day of the race’s debut in 2011.
On Friday his best lap of one minute 25.722 seconds, in the afternoon after clocking 1:26.683 in the earlier session, made him the only driver below the 1:26 mark.
Webber, who is leaving the sport at the end of the season, was 0.188 seconds slower in the first practice and 0.281 off the pace in the afternoon when Frenchman Romain Grosjean was third with a best time nearly half a second slower than Vettel’s.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg was the best of the rest for Mercedes in the morning with a lap 0.216 off his compatriot’s best effort.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the only man who can deny Vettel the title on Sunday, suffered a gearbox problem after six laps in the morning but was fifth fastest at the end of the day.
The Spaniard has to finish in the top two on Sunday to have any chance of denying Vettel the title on Indian soil.
Vettel, who has a 90-point lead over the Ferrari driver with four races remaining – worth 100 points in total, is the runaway favourite to win the race.
He has won the previous two Indian Grands Prix from pole position and has lead every competitive lap ever held at the circuit.
Vettel will be the first Formula 1 driver to win his first four titles in a row, as well as the youngest quadruple Champion.
Only seven-time Champion Michael Schumacher and the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio have won four successive titles since the Championship started in 1950. Frenchman Alain Prost is the sport’s only other four-time Champion.
Grosjean was fourth for Lotus in the opening session, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, with the McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez sixth and seventh on the timesheets. Hamilton was fourth in the afternoon.
British reserve James Calado replaced compatriot Paul Di Resta in the Force India for the opening session after the team said the regular race driver had not felt well on Thursday.
Di Resta returned for the second session, after Calado went off late in the morning.
The main incident in the afternoon was provided by Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, whose Williams shed a wheelnut while out on track. He managed to nurse the car back to the pitlane entry. (Reuters)
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 25 October 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.722||35|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.011||0.289||38|
|12||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.375||1.653||36|
|15||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.608||1.886||38|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:28.692||2.970||39|