Indian delight as Vettel cruises to eleventh win
30 October, 2011
Oct.30 (PVM) World champion Sebastian Vettel powered to his eleventh win of the season to claim top honours in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit near new Delhi and in the process breaking yet another Formula 1 record as he took the chequered flag waved by Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
Vettel at the wheel of his Red Bull RB7 had a faultless race and did the business in what has become his trademark: pop a top lap in qualifying, get a good start and then disappear off into the distance – on this occasion disappear into the haze – and then collect the big trophy at the end of the afternoon. The story of the season.
“Yes boys, we did it!” says Vettel on the Red Bull team radio as he crossed the line. “First Indian Grand Prix! Great job!”
This time out he broke the record for leading the most laps in one season, Vettel has led 693 laps in 2011 and thus beating the record set by Nigel Mansell in 1992.
To add insult to injury, and deliver the killer blow to his rivals, he set the fastest lap of the race on his final race tour of Buddh. Yet another dominant display by the 24 year old.
Vettel said, “It obviously was a very good race for us and I enjoyed my time in the lead. I had a little fight with Jenson in the distance but it was crucial to manage the tyres and all in all a very smooth race. The car was well balanced and overall it was a fantastic performance. To be honest, I have mixed emotions because this is the first Indian Grand Prix but looking back at last weekend we lost two of our mates. I didn’t know Dan Wheldon but I got to know Marco Simoncelli this year and our thoughts are with them. Yes, we take great risks when we jump in the car and we hope nothing happens but you are reminded of these things, so our thoughts are with them. What the people did here in the short amount of time to put up this arena is incredible. All in all it was fantastic and I’m very proud to be the first winner here. We are still hungry, we are not lacking motivation. I love what I do and we don’t want this [season] to end.”
Jenson Button turned around what he termed a ‘terrible” qualifying to take second place, the McLaren driver crossing the line 8.4 seconds down on the winning Red Bull car.
Button made a great start from fourth on the grid and got by the Red Bull of Mark Webber early on in the race and thereafter second place was his virtually unchallenged, but the 2009 world champion simply had no answer to Vettel up front. The result puts Button firmly in second place in the championship standings with 240 points.
He said afterwards, “We’ve had two fatalities and it’s very difficult. I knew Dan from a young age – so I think we should dedicate this first Indian race to Dan and to Marco, who was the most amazing man to watch on a bike. The start off the line didn’t feel that good but I was able to get Fernando into Turn One. I think he went a bit deep and I was in Mark’s tow. he covered the inside but I had enough room to go around the outside. I had Mark behind me for eight laps pushing me really, really hard – we both almost ran wide – but I was able to pull away as I think he had damaged his tyres a little bit. The pace isn’t quite there but hopefully in the last races we can take that little step.”
Once again Fernando Alonso wrestled the Ferrari to third place, overcoming Webber in a much stronger car and the Ferrari driver again flying the flag for Maranello as his team mate floundered.
The Spaniard reflected, “We raced with Mark until the second stop, we did two extra laps and were able to overtake him. I’m extremely happy to be on the podium in this first race in India. As Seb and Jenson said, it’s mixed feelings with these being sad weeks for motorsport and we all raced for them [Dan and Marco] today. We’re always remembering these two fantastic people. The start was not perfect; I tried to recover in Turn One, braking a little late, but there was not the grip so I lost a little bit more. It did not compromise the race as I wasn’t able to fight with Vettel [anyway]. We keep having podiums thanks to the people here. We had a little problem with the front wing on the grid and the mechanics did a fantastic job to fix it. Next year is our main target.”
Webber crossed the line to take fourth, in Alonso’s slipstream.
Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher made up for a disappointing showing in qualifying and delivered one of his better performances (since his comeback) to take fifth place after starting 11th on the grid. He headed up his Mercedes GP team mate Nico Rosberg, the pair crossing the finish line nose to tail.
Lewis Hamilton survived another coming together with his nemesis Felipe Massa, which forced him to make an extra pit stop to change a damaged front wing. But in truth the McLaren driver was never really in the hunt.
“There is not much to say. It’s a disappointing day and my team deserve better. We had the one minute silence before the race, I was standing next to Felipe. He’s not spoken to me for a long time but I made the effort, I put my arm round him and said good luck for the race. Then I tried to overtake but I tried to pull out of it as he didn’t give me any space but we collided. I had some vibrations on the right-hand turns, it felt like the floor was scraping on the giound. I was pushing as hard as I could but I didn’t have the performance. I’ll fly back and try to get my head back in the game,” said Hamilton.
Massa this time was adjudged to have been in the wrong after he turned in on Hamilton, who had been stalking the Ferrari for a couple of laps, as the two hurtled into Turn 5 side by side just before mid distance. The Race Stewards gave the Brazilian a drive through penalty.
Massa’s weekend went from bad to very bad, ten laps later, when he smacked the kerb in Turn 8 and terminally damaged his Ferrari 150 Italia. A carbon copy of his Turn 7 qualifying incident. Not a good day at the office.
Jaime Alguersuari again did his shares no harm, driving a strong race to take eighth place for Toro Rosso. The young Spaniard involved in most of the on track action during the course of the race. His team mate Sebastien Buemi was also running with a top ten finish in sight when an apparent engine failure led to his retirement shortly before mid-distance.
Force India flags and outfits outnumbered similar Ferrari regalia which is a rarity, but the home team could not deliver on expectations as Adrian Sutil soldiered on to take ninth place.
Final point went to Sergio Perez who stormed through the field from 20th on the grid to finish tenth.
The race was relatively incident free, apart from a first turn melee which forced Timo Glock (Virgin Racing), Jarno Trulli (Lotus) and Rubens Barrichello (Williams) into the pit on the first lap to repair damage, while Kamui Kobayashi had one of the shortest race of his career as he parked his damaged Sauber after the incident.
In retrospect it was a pretty boring grand prix, perhaps the edge gone now that the titles are decided. A minute’s silence on the grid, just before the start, for the recent passing of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli also set of a sombre tone. But all in all India delivered a great race track and are now part of sport’s most prestigious circus: Formula 1.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner summed it up: “It has been tremendous. The reaction we have had from India has been fantastic. It is a wonderful venue and a great first Indian Grand Prix. That race was intense on the pit wall, it looked comfortable but we didn’t know how slow we would be on the hard tyre at the end. But Sebastian was inch-perfect today.”
Sunday, 30 October – Race Result
|2||4||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+8.4 secs||4||18|
|3||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||60||+24.3 secs||3||15|
|4||2||Mark Webber||RBR-Renault||60||+25.5 secs||2||12|
|5||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||60||+65.4 secs||11||10|
|6||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||60||+66.8 secs||7||8|
|7||3||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||60||+84.1 secs||5||6|
|8||19||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||60||+1 Lap||10||4|
|9||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||60||+1 Lap||8||2|
|10||17||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||60||+1 Lap||20||1|
|11||10||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||+1 Lap||16|
|12||9||Bruno Senna||Renault||+1 Lap||14|
|13||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap||12|
|14||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||+2 Lap||18|
|15||11||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||+2 Lap||15|
|16||25||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||+3 Lap||21|
|17||22||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||+3 Lap||23|
|18||23||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||+3 Lap||22|
|19||21||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||+5 Lap||19|
|Ret||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||+28 Laps||6|
|Ret||18||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||+36 Laps||9|
|Ret||12||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||+48 Laps||13|
|Ret||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||+58 Laps||24|
|Ret||16||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||+ secs||17|
Petrov penalised 5 grid spots for causing crash in Korea; Hamilton & Perez 3 spots for ignoring yellow flags in FP1; Ricciardo 5 spots for gearbox change; Karthikeyan 5 spots for blocking. Glock didn’t meet 107% requirement, races at stewards’ discretion.