Indian Grand Prix 2011: Red Bull’s Vettel cruises to victory
Sebastian Vettel earns his 11th win of the season after leading inaugural Indian Grand Prix from start to finish
Sebastian Vettel stormed to his 11th victory of the season in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.
It was another comfortable Sunday afternoon for Red Bull’s double world champion as he led from pole to take the chequered flag 8.4 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who was almost 17 seconds further back.
Such was Vettel’s dominance in Greater Noida, the German secured pole, fastest lap, and the win after leading every lap of the race for the first time in his career.
“On the one hand I am very happy, very proud to be the first winner, but on the other hand looking back at last weekend we lost two of our mates,” Vettel said.
“I didn’t know Dan [Wheldon ““ who died in a 15-car pile-up during an IndyCar last week in Las Vegas] but obviously he is a big name in motorsport.
“This year I got to know Marco Simoncelli and our thoughts are with them. We are ready to take certain risks when we get in the car, but sometimes things happen. As I said a bit of mixed emotions and our thoughts are with them at the moment.
“Obviously, it was a very good race for us. I enjoyed the time in the lead very much. I had a bit of a fight with Jenson in the distance as he was always four seconds behind and with the strategy he kept closing in during the pitstops.”
Button, who has been the only driver able to keep up with Vettel on Sundays, got off to a fantastic start as he passed rivals Alonso and Mark Webber on the opening lap, but while he was always close, he was never able to challenge Vettel.
Mercedes continued to enjoy good performance in race trim as Michael Schumacher headed team-mate Nico Rosberg to take fifth and sixth as the drivers spent much of the afternoon pressuring each other.
Lewis Hamilton’s season continued in turbulent fashion after he again made contact with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa as he attempted to pass the Brazilian for fifth.
Massa was penalised for causing an avoidable collision, and later crashed out after damaging suspension at Turn 12 on lap 33, while Hamilton was the last driver on the lead lap as he finished seventh, a disappointing 84 seconds behind Vettel.
Jaime Alguersuari took eighth for Toro Rosso with another excellent race, with Adrian Sutil ninth for Force India in their home race.
Sauber’s Sergio PÃ©rez, who like Hamilton had started the race with a three-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags during Friday practice, rounded out the top 10.
Alguersuari’s team-mate SÃ©bastien Buemi should have taken ninth but retired with mechanical problems soon after both Toro Rosso drivers had passed Sutil.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was 11th, ahead of team-mate Bruno Senna after pitting very late in the race.
Paul di Resta was a disappointing 13th after being held up by the battle between PÃ©rez and Petrov just two weeks before Force India are set to announce their 2012 line up.
Team Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen was briefly in the top 10, as the front-runners made their stops, but the Finn had to settle for a respectable 14th, comfortably ahead of Williams’ Rubens Barrichello, who had collided with his team-mate Pastor Maldonado on the opening lap.
HRT’s Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan had a race-long battle with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in his home race, and was delighted to finish 17th ahead of the Australian.
“I had a great grand prix and I really enjoyed myself, it was an amazing experience,” Karthikeyan said. “To finish 17th in my home grand prix is the best I could have wished for with the car we have and beating my team-mate and one Lotus on the way makes it all the more satisfying.”
With the championship already won by Vettel, Button leads the race for second with 240 points, ahead of Alonso on 227, Webber on 221 and Hamilton on 202.
In the constructors’ championship, Red Bull have 595 points to McLaren’s 442 and Ferrari’s 325, which guarantees the Woking-based team second place ahead of the Italians.
Vettel is now just two wins away from equalling Schumacher’s amazing record haul of 14 race wins in a season set in the last year the German won the world drivers’ championship in 2004.
While not a perfect start to its debut on the Formula 1 calendar, the Buddh International Circuit was largely praised by drivers across the weekend, with the remaining issues behind the scenes for the teams, media, and spectators.
Speaking after the race, Schumacher said: “To the organisers of the first Indian Grand Prix, I would like to send a big compliment; I’m sure that I am not the only one to say that this was a very positive debut.”
Indian Grand Prix 2011 – Race result
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1hr 30mins 35.002secs
2 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:30:43.435
3 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:30:59.303
4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:31:00.531
5 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:31:40.423
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:31:41.853
7 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:31:59.185
8 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
9 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India at 1 Lap
10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap
11 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault at 1 Lap
12 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault at 1 Lap
13 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India at 1 Lap
14 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps
15 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 2 Laps
16 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing at 3 Laps
17 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 at 3 Laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 at 3 Laps
19 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 at 5 Laps
20 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 32 Laps completed
21 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 24 Laps completed,
22 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 12 Laps completed
23 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 2 Laps completed
24 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 0 Laps completed