Mighty Vettel claims historic Indian GP pole
29 October, 2011
Oct.29 (PVM) Recently crowned double F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel delivered yet another mighty qualifying performance to notch up his 13th pole position of the season, this time for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the impressive Buddh International Circuit near New delhi.
Vettel made it 16 out of 17 pole positions this year for the Adrian Newey penned Red Bull RB7 which just happens to be a Formula 1 record.
For Vettel it was another commanding performance, his first run good enough for pole but to make sure the 24 year old German went out for a final run and went even faster, leaving his rivals in the dust with 1 minute 24.178 seconds lap time which was over a quarter of second up on his closest rival.
It was Lewis Hamilton who chased hard and ended runner-up on the timing screens but will drop three positions due to a penalty incurred in the first free practice session on Friday.
The 13th pole of the season, for Vettel, equals Ayrton Senna in second place for most poles in a season and trails Nigel Mansell who scored 14 top spot starts in 1992.
Both championships have already been decided, with Vettel and Red Bull retaining their titles for the second year in succession.
Vettel said after qualifying, “It was a good session for us at a new circuit, new venue. It was tricky for all of us. We’ve seen all weekend with dust on the track so in the end we ended up with one racing line clear of dirt. If you go just a little bit off that line it makes you lose time so it’s tricky. The car was fantastic since Friday and throughout qualifying. In the end there was a little bit left in the first sector. There’s a long straight after Turn Three so you want to make sure you don’t lose time. I’m extremely happy and it’s good to be here. It will be a very interesting race on a challenging circuit. It’s my first time in India and I’m excited to race.”
Mark Webber ended the session third quickest but will start, from the front row, second on the grid thanks to Hamilton’s demotion.
Hamilton reflected, “It has been a good day for me. I’m really surprised that we were able to split the Red Bulls. It’s great to be on the front row in terms of how we qualified but of course we’ve got the penalty. It was a bit of a silly mistake [on Friday] and I paid the price. We’ve still got good pace and there are two DRS zones so overtaking should be OK compared to other places. I’m still optimistic.”
Webber, will be wondering if Hamilton’s penalty is more of a curse than good luck as he will no start on the dirty side of the grid – and at the spanking new Buddh circuit dust and the resultant lack of grip will for sure be a factor.
The Aussie said, “It was tricky to work out the right strategy for qualifying but it’s a good challenge for all of us. The first sector was tricky to get right and I could have done better on my first lap. Then I got yellow flags with Felipe so I couldn’t do my second lap. We have got a good foundation for a very good race on Sunday.”
Fernando Alonso ended fourth, in his Ferrari, on the timing sheets and will start the race from third on the grid which also happens to be the clean side. He said, “I think it was a good qualifying for us and a good weekend so far. Felipe was on top of the times in free practice yesterday. There were not too many problems in qualifying so it was a smooth Saturday. I’m in front of Jenson which is quite a nice surprise. With Lewis’ penalty, starting third will be even better. Normally our strong point is on Sunday with race pace so I’m optimistic for Sunday.”
Jenson Button’s session was compromised from Q1 when he was forced to chase a time and use up an extra set of soft tyres. He nevertheless managed the fifth best time and will start the race from fourth on th e grid. He reflected, ” This morning the car felt good but on the hard tyre I couldn’t find any grip, and nor on the soft tyre. I didn’t really get a clear lap either. I think because the tyres aren’t working on the first lap, people are backing off and trying again, so there are cars everywhere.”
Felipe Massa’s session ended in the tyre wall, when in the final stages of the session, after going off line and smashing a kerb, which broke the right front suspension.
Seventh fastest was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP, he was almost a second up on his team mate Michael Schumacher who failed to make it into Q3 and will start the race from 12th.
Flying the flag for the host country, in the Force India was Adrian Sutil who managed the eighth best time, out qualifying his team mate Paul Di Resta who will, failed to make it out of Q2, and will start 13th on the grid. Sutil did not do a flying lap in Q3, rather keeping a set of extra soft tyres for the race
The fifth row will be an all Toro Rosso affair with Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari making it through into Q3 but both opting not to set a time. They will start ninth and tenth respectively.
Report in progress….
Saturday, 29 October – Qualifying
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.271||1:26.140||19|
|13||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.864||1:26.503||15|
|Q1 107% Time||1:32.222|