Indian Grand Prix: Vettel dominates to take fourth successive world title in fine style
27 October, 2013
It was never in doubt that Sebastian Vettel would wrap up the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship at the Indian Grand Prix, and he did so, as expected, in the finest style possible – by winning the race for the third time in as many years, extending his current streak to six races victories in a row. He claimed the title yet again.
The German was simply in a class of his own at Buddh International Circuit, as he has been since August in Belgium. After starting with the very fragile softer yellow band Pirelli tyres he made a pitstop on lap two, he was relegated to 17th position. Thereafter he carved his way through the field. By lap 15 he was third, by lap 21 he was second and on lap 29 he regained the lead – briefly lost it to his teammate a lap later – but by lap 32 he was in the lead again where he remained unchallenged to the end.
When the chequered flag fell to bring an end to possibly the last ever Indian Grand Prix, Vettel became World Champion for the fourth time in a as many years, and Red Bull wrapped up the Constructors’ title for the fourth time as well.
It was another straightforward and dominant display from Vettel, although the team might point to concerns over the alternator on the Renault powered RB9 which would force Mark Webber to pull over and retire from the race while in second place. But in the end, as has largely been the case over the past four years, Vettel was unaffected.
However there was an irony to Webber’s retirement as it summed up the past three years of the Red Bull partnership in the cruelest way possible. One driver sweeping all before him, the other hitching a lift back to the pits on a scooter. As Vettel and Red Bull donned their World Champions t-shirt for a fourth year in succession, Webber could be forgiven getting a batch printed with the (Mario Balotelli style) slogan: Why always me?
But the day belonged to Vettel and it was great to see the World Champion doing donuts, climbing fences and bring back some good old fashioned ‘I am very glad I won style celebrations’ – his silhouette amid the smoke of his tyres as he climbed on to the Red Bull in front of the main grandstand will be permanently etched in the memory of those who witnessed the spectacle. His greatness will be revered in due course.
Vettel spoke afterwards, “First of all I would to thank the crowd for an unbelievable reception, I am speechless – I was empty when I crossed the line. I spent ages thinking what to say, there is so much you want to say at a time like that.”
“It is a pleasure to jump in the car and go out and drive for the guys and give it all I have. The car was phenomenal today and has been phenomenal all season to be honest.”
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who is behind the team, it has not been an easy season. From the outside people will think it was easy but it wasn’t. It has been hard for me in particular, to be booed when I have not done anything wrong was hard but I think I answered the things on the track which I am very pleased about.”
“I am overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say but it is the best day of my life so far. When I started to race, Formula 1 seemed so far away but there are so many people I have to thank along the way from karting to here.”
“I was taught so many things and I have always tried to listen but to come out on top of this incredibly talented field is amazing. I am not old yet but I am getting older and maybe I am not grasping it yet. Maybe in 10 years time I will look back and realise the enormity.”
As for the support cast, it was Nico Rosberg who was best of the rest, taking second place in the Mercedes despite dropping down to as low as 13th place at the halfway mark. But the Silver Arrows pit wall made the strategy work. The German outfit are now ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ standings.
Rosberg summed up his afternoon, “I’m pleased, the start was difficult after dropping behind Massa. The team did a fantastic strategy and I’m pleased. Sebastian has done an amazing job and deserves to be champ. We will do everything possible over the winter to be competitive next season.”
Drive of the day, man of the match – call it what you want – must go to Romain Grosjean who turned 17th on the grid to third place by the end of the race, by doing only a one stop race. In the process he also revealed the true colours of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen. As the Frenchman came up to overtake the Finn, whose tyres were clearly finished and way off the pace, Raikkonen was hardly helpful, which was strange considering the number of times Grosjean capitulated for his teammate in the past. Nevertheless Grosjean clearly out performed his highly acclaimed teammate yet again. Raikkonen crossed the line in seventh.
Afterwards Grosjean made little of the incident with his teammate, rather focusing on the positives of being on the podium again, “I would not have bet a penny on it. We had a very brave strategy, as we did yesterday, it was not the time to go safe and it paid off. I tried to go through the field, it was tough until the end. I didn’t know when the tyres were going to go off, but the team were fantastic. I am very proud.”
“Kimi was in a difficult situation and went for the outside and didn’t see that point so I knew I had to be careful to my engine. I lost a little bit of time but we got on the podium and scored good points for the team.”
Felipe Massa gave one of his strongest performances in a while on his way to fourth place. Opting to ignore his Ferrari engineers and devise his own game plan for the race, the Brazilian had a mega start and was always at the sharp end of proceedings while teammate Fernando Alonso struggled after a first turn collision compromised his race. The Spaniard spent the afternoon battling with the wrong group of cars, and 11th was his reward.
Alonso, who had a mathematical chance of catching Vettel before the race, was magnanimous in defeat, “I congratulate Sebastian Vettel, they have been very strong and dominant, especially in the second half of the season and Red Bull deserve to be Champions. We need to start thinking about next year and make things more difficult for him.”
“It was not a clear start. I was a bit unlucky; the race was uphill from that moment. It was a difficult race, with not enough pace. The car was damaged. The steering wheel was very heavy into the right corners and light into the left corners. Overall the weekend was not good enough and in Abu Dhabi we need to improve if we want to pass Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship,” observed the Spaniard.
The best move of the day must go to McLaren’s Sergio Perez who audaciously squeezed past Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen to snatch fifth place. Granted, the Lotus and Mercedes were on gripless tyres at that point, nevertheless it was cheeky and very brave to venture between two of F1′s hard men as Perez did.
At their home grand prix, Force India rose to the occasion with Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
Daniel Ricciardo, in tenth, claimed the final point for Toro Rosso.
Final word to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, celebrating both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships, “Let’s take nothing away from Sebastian not just today but for the whole season. He knew his strategy was to get through the traffic and he did it. He worked his way back through the field and he created the opening for himself today.”
“We decided last night that was going to be our approach to get off the tyres quickly and rely on Sebastian. Mark’s approach was different but he was doing what was required and opening up a gap, it’s just a shame we couldn’t complete the one-two.”
“It was hugely emotional for everyone to see him cross the line. I said to him to try and do it in style and he did and to win this Indian Grand Prix for the third successive time is incredible.”
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit – Sunday, 27 October 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||60||Winner||1||25|
|2||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||60||+29.8 secs||2||18|
|3||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||60||+39.8 secs||17||15|
|4||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||60||+41.6 secs||5||12|
|5||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+43.8 secs||9||10|
|6||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||60||+52.4 secs||3||8|
|7||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||60||+67.9 secs||6||6|
|8||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||60||+72.8 secs||12||4|
|9||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||60||+74.7 secs||13||2|
|10||19||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||60||+76.2 secs||11||1|
|11||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||60||+78.2 secs||8|
|12||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||60||+78.9 secs||18|
|13||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap||14|
|14||5||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||59||+1 Lap||10|
|15||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||59||+1 Lap||16|
|16||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Renault||59||+1 Lap||15|
|17||23||Max Chilton||Marussia-Cosworth||58||+2 Lap||22|
|18||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Cosworth||58||+2 Lap||19|
|19||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber-Ferrari||54||+6 Lap||7|
|Ret||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||39||+21 Laps||4|
|Ret||20||Charles Pic||Caterham-Renault||35||+25 Laps||21|
|Ret||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1||+59 Laps||20|