Indian GP Qualifying: Vettel too good, but Mercedes emerge as challengers
26 October, 2013
After topping the times in all three free practice sessions ahead of qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, it came as no surprise when Sebastian Vettel powered around Buddh International Circuit faster than anyone ever has, in a time of 1:24.119 to claim pole position for the race and with it take a step closer to wrapping up his fourth consecutive Formula 1 World Championship title.
Vettel, who has been on pole for every edition of the Indian GP since it’s inception, said afterwards, “Mark chose a different tyre. I have to start on the [other] tyre, obviously the strategy is different. I think in the end, if everybody does his bit it probably doesn’t matter so much. It’s a great result for the team, we’ll see what the result is tomorrow.”
If there was a surprise it was the emergence of Mercedes as the most likely to challenge the dominance of the Red Bull driver with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton second and third respectively. However they will be scratching their heads wondering how Vettel was nearly three quarters of a second faster in Q3.
Rosberg appeared pleased with his effort, “I’m pleased, because the aim this weekend was to be best of the rest. Second place is a great place to start. It’s been a demanding weekend. We went wild with the set up on Friday to try and find a few tenths – and luckily we found it, so it’s cool. We looked at both strategies and we think the Soft [tyre] is the better one.”
Hamilton reflected, “It’s been a tough weekend, congratulations to Sebastian – he showed serious pace. We have been pushing and we wanted to get a great result this weekend. I was surprised to be where we are. I did have some traffic through Turn 8 and 9 and [that] didn’t help. It might have been a Red Bull but we didn’t lose too much time.”
Mark Webber will start from fourth on the grid, but unlike the trio ahead of him he qualified on the harder compound Pirelli, which from a strategy perspective, may give him an advantage as (theoretically) he will be able to run a longer first stint.
It was an impressive effort, and Webber knew it when he said with a twinkle in his eye, “It was not a bad qualifying [result] to be honest. The second row we thought would probably not be possible. We had a plan to run the Mediums in Q3. In the end, we got the most out of it. We are going to have different start to race with the others on the Softs but I’ll need to put that tyre on at some stage. It’s 50-50 how it will go.”
Felipe Massa out-qualified Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso for a second race in a row, the Brazilian was fifth fastest with Alonso eighth.
It was a case of vastly mixed fortunes at Lotus where Kimi Raikkonen qualified sixth, while teammate Romian Grosjean – who had otherwise been at the sharp end all weekend – failed to make it beyond Q1. The Frenchman who took the race to Red Bull last time out in Japan, was 17th on the timing sheets thanks to a gamble to run only the Medium tyres – which did not pay off.
“We just missed the cut-off time, everyone went quicker than we thought. Today, for some reason, the Mediums were not quick enough. It’s a decision we [as a team] took together, we were confident we could do enough with them, but we got it wrong,” explained Grosjean.
Again Nico Hulkenberg’s performance was one of the highlights of the session. The Sauber driver will start from seventh which compares with rookie teammate Esteban Gutierrez down in 16th, and a second off his teammate in Q2.
McLaren duo, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, were ninth and tenth respectively and will share the fifth row of the grid.
It was disappointment for Force India at their home race with Paul Di Resta 12th and Adrian Sutil 13th. Vijay Mallya’s outfit would have been targeting a top ten start for at least one of his drivers.
The scene is set for what looks like another Vettel and Red Bull walk in the park. Although the German needs only to finish fifth to claim his fourth consecutive Formula 1 World Championship title, you can count on him going for all 25 points on offer for the win, and to do it in style. After all he has never been beaten in India… (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 26 October 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.943||1:24.568||1:24.119||12|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.665||1:25.097||1:25.047||17|
|12||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.908||1:25.711||15|
|13||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.164||1:25.740||16|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:27.105||6|
|Q1 107% Time||1:31.564|