Vettel clinches fourth successive Driversí Crown
Sebastian Vettel has stormed to his sixth successive race victory at the Indian Grand Prix, which in turn has seen the German sensation clinch his fourth successive Driversí Championship Crown for Red Bull. Vettel was joined on the podium by Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, as Red Bull also clinched the Constructorsí Championship.
After securing yet another superb pole position during qualifying, Sebastian Vettel glided into the lead of the race at the start, whereas behind him the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton jostled for position. As the field negotiated the tight Turn 1, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso made light contact which in turn saw the Ferrari driver sustain minor front-wing damage. With the softer tyre compound predicted to only last for several laps at the start, Sebastian Vettel wasted no time in opening up a gap at the front, as down the long straight into Turn 4 the Ferrari of Felipe Massa muscled his way into 2nd position ahead of the Mercedesí duo.
At the end of the opening lap both Paul di Resta and Jean-Eric Vergne pitted for their respective teams, in a bid to immediately switch from the soft tyre compound to the mediums. A lap later many other drivers did likewise, including race leader Sebastian Vettel and fellow Championship rival Fernando Alonso. Whilst this handed the lead of the race to the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, the Brazilianís team-mate frustratingly required a front-wing change after his earlier incident, which saw him rejoin the action way down in 20th position. Further down the order saw Giedo van der Garde become the first retirement of the race, after an opening lap collision with the Marussia of Max Chilton which damaged his suspension.
As the opening laps of the race ensued, Felipe Massa led out in front ahead of the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Further down the order Fernando Alonso was heard complaining of the handling of his car over the team radio, after a torrid opening few laps to his race. Mark Webber also endured a tough start to the race, however the Australian ace was soon scything his way through the order on the medium tyre compound, eventually rising ahead of Kimi Raikkonen into 4th position by Lap 5. Soon afterwards Sergio Perez managed to also overtake the Finn, who began to struggle on his set of soft tyres.
By Lap 7 more drivers soon began peeling off into the pits for the medium tyre compound, including the likes of Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen with Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado doing so a lap later. This saw Mark Webber rise up into the lead of the race, after initially dropping down to as low as 7th after the opening lap. By now Sebastian Vettel had silently begun clawing his way up through the order after his earlier pit-stop, and was running a strong 4th by Lap 10. In stark contrast to the Red Bull ace, Fernando Alonso was unable to replicate Sebastian Vettelís ability to cut through the pack, and was still down in 16th position.
Whilst Sebastian Vettel began setting his sights on future team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in 3rd, Formula 1 rookie Esteban Gutierrez came under investigation for jumping the start. The Mexican driver was soon struck with a drive-thru penalty, after numerous replays confirmed his illegality. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel made light work of Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso for 3rd, with the McLaren of Sergio Perez his next target further up on the road. As the German driver produced consecutive fastest laps in his bid to catch his team-mate in the lead, Fernando Alonso was struggling to even make a move stick on Esteban Gutierrez. At Turn 1 it seemed the Spaniard had finally overtaken the Sauber driver, only for him to breeze back around the Ferrari ace down the long straight into Turn 4.
As Sebastian Vettel eased around Sergio Perez for 2nd on Lap 20, Fernando Alonso finally muscled his way around Esteban Gutierrez at Turn 5. The Spaniard finally made the move stick, after some incredibly mature defensive driving from the Mexican rookie. Nico Rosberg pitted several laps later in Mercedes, as Esteban Gutierrez soon came close to incurring yet another penalty as he made more than one change of direction in a bid to keep Romain Grosjean at bay. The race stewards initially placed the duo under investigation, but soon confirmed that no further action would take place.
Mark Webber and Sergio Perez also pitted as the race ensued, allowing Sebastian Vettel to resume his lead at the front. After making his stop, Sergio Perez rejoined the action just behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, whom he soon managed to overtake. Soon both Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso and Max Chilton all pitted, as the second round of pit-stops entered into full motion. Sebastian Vettel soon pitted as well from the lead of the race, allowing Mark Webber to momentarily resume his lead before also pitting a lap later. This in turn saw Sebastian Vettel retake the lead by a considerable margin over his Australian team-mate.
As the race began to enter itís closing stages, Charles Pic became the latest retirement after a serious issue materialized on his Caterham. This was the Leafield-based outfitís first double-DNF of the season, with arch-rivals Marussia remaining ahead of them in the Constructorsí Championship. Several laps later Mark Webber dramatically joined Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde in retirement, after a familiar alternator issue once again struck his Red Bull machine. Amid a race dominated by tyres and differing race strategies, Adrian Sutil surprised many by making his first and only stop on Lap 41, after running a staggering 45 laps on the medium tyre compound.
Whilst Sebastian Vettel dominated out in front on his way to his sixth successive race victory, rookie Valtteri Bottas was jostling for 11th position with both Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso. Eventually the Finn was swamped by the charging duo, as he strove to pick up his first points in Formula 1. Kimi Raikkonen soon began struggling significantly on his medium tyres as the race drew to a close, allowing the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg to rise up into 2nd position.
With only several laps remaining, Nico Hulkenberg pitted into retirement for Sauber, bringing an end to a highly competitive streak for the German ace. With Kimi Raikkonen continuing to struggle with his tyres, team-mate Romain Grosjean soon managed to catch the Finn for the final podium position. Despite a minor collision between the duo, Grosjean eventually managed to perfect an overtaking maneuver on his team-mate, with Felipe Massa following the Frenchman through.
As utter freneticism ensued between Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen during the dying laps of the race, no-one managed to stop the rampaging Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who crossed the line to take his sixth successive race victory and his fourth successive Driversí Crown. The German was followed by fellow countryman Nico Rosberg, with Romain Grosjean an incredible 3rd. Whereas the many drivers either peeled off of the track immediately after crossing the line or slowly trundled back to parc ferme, Sebastian Vettel elected to return to the start/finish line to complete a set of donuts in front of the adoring Indian fans.
With only three races now left in the season, Sebastian Vettelís Championship battle has now drawn to a sensational conclusion with the German romping to yet more Championship success for Red Bull. Although no-one can now mathematically catch Sebastian Vettel, the battle for 2nd in the Championship will surely enthrall many when the sport reconvenes next weekend at Abu Dhabi.
Author: Andy Young
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