Dominant Vettel cruises to Indian GP victory
28 October 2012 – Sebastian Vettel has won four consecutive Grands Prix in one season for the first time, clinching a controlled victory in India. Fernando Alonso seized second place by overtaking both McLarens and making the most of a KERS problem for Mark Webber. Vettel’s championship-leading gap is now 13 points with three races to go.
Heading into the second Formula 1 event to be staged at the Buddh International Circuit, there were celebrations in the paddock as supremo Bernie Ecclestone celebrated his 82nd birthday. On the grid, Alonso started fifth and aimed to split both McLarens to keep pressure on the Red Bull duo. The action began at three o’clock, in the usual smoggy conditions.
The start did not feature as much chaos at last year, but Michael Schumacher picked up a puncture following contact with Jean-Éric Vergne. Both men pitted for repairs. Vettel had blocked off Webber on the run to Turn 1, as Button and Hamilton slowed each other by dicing; this was all the motivation Alonso needed to shoot past both McLarens on the back straight, only to be re-passed by the pair into Turn 4. Relentless Alonso re-took Hamilton before charging ahead of Button three laps later.
Punctures appeared to be theme of the afternoon. Aforementioned Schumacher – who was lapped and eventually retired – was the first, with Sergio Pérez touching Daniel Ricciardo before coasting into the garage himself. Contact between team-mate Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado left the Williams driver with a deflated tyre, having moved over towards the Sauber on the run to Turn 5. The Venezuelan duly dropped back to a lowly 16th. The HRT of Pedro de la Rosa was the only car to crash, suffering a high-speed brake failure at Turn 4.
Setting numerous fastest laps throughout that race – but annoyingly beaten to that honour by Button, on the final tour – Vettel controlled the pace and crossed the line 9.4 seconds ahead of Alonso. The Spaniard had overhauled Webber with 13 laps to go, as the Australian lost use of his KERS. Hamilton threatened for the final podium slot, but an error on the penultimate lap saw him lose ground just after moving into the one-second DRS range. Button completed the top five, having lost time due to car vibrations halfway through the race.
Felipe Massa was in touch with the McLarens all afternoon and crossed the line sixth, with Kimi Räikkönen salvaging seventh which was the most possible for Lotus today. Nico Hülkenberg’s eighth place came as a relief to Force India head Vijay Mallya, in front of hundreds of team guests, as Romain Grosjean finished ninth. The final point went to the Williams of Bruno Senna, who pulled off a strong move around the outside of Nico Rosberg at Turn 4; the Brazilian had showed good pace in India since practice started on Friday.
Having now led every lap of the last three Grands Prix, Vettel’s 26th career victory places him sole seventh in the all-time records, ahead of former Champions Jim Clark and Niki Lauda. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull sits 91 points ahead of Ferrari while there are a maximum of 129 points left on offer from Abu Dhabi, the USA and Brazil.
Formula 1 rapidly continues with Round 18 of 20 of the 2012 season, taking place at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit next weekend