Vettel destroys the opposition on his way to India
Sebastian Vettel has utterly destroyed the opposition on his way to his 43rd pole position for tomorrow’s 60-lap Indian Grand Prix, after yet another dominant display from Red Bull. The German sensation will start tomorrow’s race alongside fellow countryman Nico Rosberg, with Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber on the second row of the grid.
After a slight delay to the morning practice session due to the heavy smog lingering over the Buddh International Circuit, the all-important qualifying hour got underway on time despite the smog still making visibility less than perfect. Esteban Gutierrez eventually became the first driver to take to the track as the opening segment of qualifying got underway, in what was a slow start to proceedings. The Mexican rookie produced the first timed lap with a 01:27.529, before many other drivers gradually began leaving the pit-lane.
The times at the top slowly began to improve as expected, with the likes of Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez rising to the top with the latter setting a 01:26.533 in his McLaren. As rookie Valtteri Bottas out-broke himself at the final corner and ran wide, Nico Rosberg managed to return to the top with a 01:26.252 before Esteban Gutierrez became one of the first drivers to opt for Pirelli’s soft tyre compound. This enabled the Sauber driver to instantly return to the top with an impressive 01:26.057, as many other drivers soon followed him onto the softer rubber.
As the opening segment of qualifying progressed, Fernando Alonso rose to the top for the Scuderia with a 01:25.934. Despite their strong display of pace throughout the earlier practice sessions, the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber could only manage 2nd and 3rd respectively behind the Spaniard. Paul di Resta managed to rise to the top for Force India with a 01:25.908, as the times once again took a tumble during the latter stages with the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber all momentarily rising to the top.
Eventually Jenson Button surprised many with a 01:25.574 to rise to the top for McLaren, as the classification chopped and changed drastically within the drop zone. As the checkered flag was unfurled, Felipe Massa managed to avoid elimination by improving in his Ferrari. This in turn saw the Brazilian driver demote the Lotus of Romain Grosjean into the drop zone, as the Frenchman was joined by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and the two Caterhams and Marussias in elimination. Jules Bianchi managed to out-qualify the Caterham duo of Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic, in what remains a tense battle at the back of the Constructors’ Championship.
The second segment of qualifying began with the sole remaining Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen becoming the first driver to take to the track, as he proceeded to produce the first timed lap with a 01:26.279. Fernando Alonso soon thwarted the Finn’s authority at the top with a 01:25.546, before Nico Rosberg shot to the top as the times once again began to tumble. Mark Webber momentarily produced the fastest lap of the segment, albeit after running extensively wide on several occasions in a race weekend featuring many drivers exceeding the track limits without picking up a penalty.
However, the Australian’s reign was short-lived as his Red Bull team-mate soon asserted his authority over proceedings once again. Sebastian Vettel managed to produce a 01:24.568, which remained unbeaten as the second segment drew to a climactic conclusion. As more drivers continued to improve throughout the dying minutes of the session, Lewis Hamilton began to edge nearer to the drop zone in his Mercedes. However, the 2008 World Champion soon propelled himself further up the order and into safety as Daniel Ricciardo, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez were all eliminated from proceedings.
After two frenetic segments of qualifying around the Buddh International Circuit, the all-important top ten shootout got underway with Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso wasting no time in immediately taking to the track. Fernando Alonso managed to produce the first timed lap of a 01:25.826, with Mark Webber 2nd as Sebastian Vettel left the pit-lane with a brand-new set of soft tyres bolted to his RB9. This assisted in the German producing an absolutely sensational lap time, the fastest ever witnessed around the Buddh International Circuit in Formula 1 machinery, as the German produced a 01:24.119. Gradually the remainder of the field took to the circuit in a bid to battle over the positions behind the dominant German.
However, no-one could thwart the reigning Champion as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton managed to at least split the Red Bull duo as Mark Webber was demoted to 4th with the Mercedes’ duo in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Felipe Massa once again managed to out-qualify Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, with the Spaniard struggling for one-lap pace way down in 8th position. Sebastian Vettel has led every racing lap around the Buddh International Circuit, a stat the German will be eager to uphold during tomorrow’s race as powers his way to what will unquestionably be his fourth successive Drivers’ Crown.
Author: Andy Young
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