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Vettel powers Red Bull to title
Roshan Thyagarajan Greater Noida: 23:02 IST
Motor sport Indian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel completed the grandest of ‘Grand Chelems’ and picked up his second Indian Grand Prix crown at the end of a fascinating race here on Sunday.
The German, who was the quickest in all four sessions (three free practice sessions and qualifying) on an improved Buddh International Circuit, led from start to finish to put up his fourth consecutive win and only his fifth title this year.
It was also a moment for Vettel to cherish as he became the only second man in the history after the legendary Ayrton Senna in 1989 to lead from start to finish in three consecutive races. “Don’t say such things,” said Vettel atop the podium when mentioned of his feat, suggesting that he should not be compared to the late Brazilian.
The 25-year-old, who now has 240 points from 17 races, leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (227) by 13 points with three races to go after the Spaniard put on a spectacle unlike any seen in a couple of years to claim the second spot and a crucial 18 points.
Vettel’s team-mate Webber, who finished second in qualifying, was outdone by Alonso to finish third. Even if the Australian lies just out of contention for the first three places on the drivers’ championship, he has helped the Milton Keynes outfit extend its lead on the constructors’ championsip. Red Bull have 407 points while Ferrari are second with 316 and McLaren third with 301.
Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button started the race in the third and fourth row for McLaren but they were pushed down a place each after Alonso’s climb up the ranks. Both the drivers were not at their best in the early stages of the race but as it went on, they got faster. In fact, Button ended with the honour of clocking the fastest lap (1:25.282) of the race.
In the seventh lap, both Hamilton and Button, along with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Caterham’s Kimi Raikkonen were engaged in a gruelling battle for the fourth sport. Many a move was made but it all went in vain as Hamilton held his spot and so did the other three.
Meanwhile, there was disappointment for many fans at the BIC as Michael Schumacher suffered a punchered tyre after his rear-right clipped Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne’s right wing on turn one. He pitted and returned to the track to finish 22nd, five laps behind Vettel, fondly know as ‘Baby Schumi’.
The crowd, however, were most certainly not disappointed in what they got to see from Alonso. Focussed on finishing as close to or ahead of Vettel as possible, the two-time world champion was in his elements. Starting fifth on the grid after a poor qualifying session on Saturday, Alonso had to make up for lost ground and he managed to do that before the first corner itself.
As confusion prevailed over track positions and racing lines, Alonso sneaked past McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton to sit in fourth. He battled hard before pulling off a stunning overtaking maneuver from the right on Jenson Button in the longest DRS Zone on the track.
Now on the tail of Webber, Alonso refused to give in. He pushed harder and made the most of Webber’s loss of KERS (Kinetic Energy Reserve System) to climb up on him. Back on the 1.2-km, DRS enabled Zone, Alonso, who sat less than one second behind, overtook Webber in lap 38 with another slide past the right.
Alonso may have stolen the limelight with a stunning drive, but this day will be remembered for how Vettel raised his index finger atop the podium in India once again.
Indian GP results
Driver Team Time 1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1::31:10.744 2. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari +00.09.437 3. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull +00.13.217 4. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren +00.13.909 5. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren +00.26.266 6. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari +00.44.674 7. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus +00.45.227 8. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India +00.54.998 9. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus +00.56.103 10. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams +01:14.975