Race Review - Indian Grand Prix
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The Indian Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel take his fourth victory in a row, are we seeing 2011 all over again? Here is my Indian GP round up.
In a similar way to the Korean GP two weeks earlier, the Indian Grand Prix was not the most exciting of races, but it had some good and bad parts to it. We saw Vettel cruise to another victory, making me wonder if anyone can catch him in the title hunt. Well, now of course Vettel has just one driver for company. Alonso.
Where shall I start? How about the start? OK, strangely all of the cars got off to similar starts. This was particularly clear at the front, and going in to turn 1 people seemed to have learned from the mistakes made in 2011. Unlike the inaugural race, there was very little contact into the first corner (although there were the obvious near misses and lock ups). Michael Schumacher got tagged by Jean-Eric Vergne. The tiniest of touches gave the Mercedes driver a puncture. That came at the worst point on the track, as the German then had to limp round the whole lap with a punctured left rear. Up front, Vettel got the usual jump on the pack. He seems to have an extra layer of confidence for the opening few laps, where he trusts the cars and can push more than anyone else.
Along the typical Tilke designed long back straight, we saw Fernando Alonso’s secret weapon. Ferrari had geared their cars in a clever way, making them some 10km/h faster on the straight compared to their nearest rivals. We saw this when Alonso cruised past both McLaren’s on the straight, only to fall back to fifth in the braking zone. However that battle was not short lived. Fernando moved out of the slipstream and pipped Hamilton for fourth. Lewis had a poor start and actually fell behind Button on the run to turn 4.
This was a really good little battle which unfortunately ended too soon. The nature of turns 6,7,8,9,10 and 11 mean single file is pretty much the only option, and Alonso was soon passed Button with his extra “seventh gear”. Moving away from that battle, Vettel was already moving away from Webber. In turn, Mark was also extending the gap to Alonso.
The first few laps were pretty manic, with cars passing in the DRS zones and little battles shaping up. However after the first stops this seemed to calm down, with many of the battles fizzling out (which was a shame). From the first stint, we already knew that Vettel had won. He was simply too fast, too consistent and kept his tyres in shape when Webber behind was struggling.
Despite the lull in action mid race, the final third of the race provided some welcome drama. First Pastor Maldonado was given a puncture after being tagged by Kobayashi. The Sauber drivers team mate had already suffered a puncture after a collision with Daniel Ricciardo, the term “spacial awareness” comes to mind yet again. We then saw Fernando Alonso turn up the speed dial and close in on Mark Webber. He took full advantage of the disappearance of KERS on the Aussies car (seriously, this never happens to Vettel but always happens to Mark) and swept past him, with a little help from DRS. From then on, it was all about moving away from Mark as the threat from Hamilton behind was increasing.
McLaren’s race was an interesting and frustrating one. Both cars struggled on the soft tyres in the first stint, meaning Button could not move too far away from Massa and Hamilton could not close on Alonso. We already knew they were suffering after practice and qualifying, but they found an extra bit of speed after pitting for the hard Pirelli tyre. They were soon the fastest cars on the track. Evidence of this came on the final lap. We all know that Vettel likes to get the pole, win and fastest lap but despite his best efforts Jenson Button pipped him to the post, as did Alonso and Bruno Senna. So maybe, on the hard tyres, Vettel was not that fast after all? Also, who can forget the EPIC 3.3 second pit stop, changing 5 wheels. Yes not 4, but 5 after Hamilton had to have a steering wheel swap.
So Vettel duly won the race, ahead of Alonso and Webber. Fernando really did drive really well and his passing moves were good (if slightly easy). Hamilton and Button were next up, while the biggest disappointment of the race was Massa and Raikkonen finishing in sixth and seventh. Now these results were not disappointing, it was the battle itself. Kimi Raikkonen was staring at Massa’s rear wing for the whole race, yet he could not pass because of the amazing straight line speed of the Ferrari.
Hulkenberg and Grosjean both got some welcome points, while Senna impressed in 10th. The Brazilian made some stunning passing moves, just at the right moment as doubts over his future start to intensify.
It must have been very scary being Narain Karthikeyan. Not only was he racing on home turf, in front of his fans but he also had brake problems through out. His team mate Pedro De La Rosa also had similar issues and his race ended with a brake failure at turn 4, scary stuff.
A few final thoughts on the race and some extra news. I’m wondering whether anyone can beat Vettel to the title. Is a third consecutive championship pretty much his now? Because Abu Dhabi is quite similar to the Buddh International Circuit.
Also you will be seeing some nice, snazzy images in the articles now. Along with my photo of the week at the bottom, I now have access to most of the teams media centres which enables me to use their pictures. Exciting stuff.
Author: Rick McCabe
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