Race - Vettel eases to inaugural Indian victory 30 Oct 2011
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel won the 2011 Formula 1 Airtel Grand Prix of India, but it might as well have been a replay of his victory in Korea a fortnight ago as he simply ran away and hid and left McLarens Jenson Button to chase him from a distance.
Ferraris Fernando Alonso and Red Bulls Mark Webber were even further behind while yet another clash with Ferraris Felipe Massa left a bitterly disappointed Lewis Hamilton to a seventh-place finish in the McLaren behind the Mercedes duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
All three top finishers paid their respects to IndyCars Dan Wheldon and MotoGPs Marco Simoncelli, for whom there had been a minutes silence on the grid, and said they had been racing for them on a day of mixed emotions.
Vettel sprinted into the lead at the start and worked very hard to build a cushion, which he then controlled as he led every lap. At times Button got the gap down to less than three seconds, but Vettel was always in command and the result was never in doubt.
Alonso jumped Webber after his second pit stop on Lap 39, and withstood the Australians counter-attack in the closing laps to complete the podium finishers.
Hamilton seemed to lack pace from the start, running in sixth behind Vettel, Button, Webber, Alonso and Massa, but had all but completed a move on the Brazilian in Turn Five on the 24th lap when Massa turned in and they collided.
The Ferrari driver continued as the Englishman pitted for a new front wing, but Massa was later given a drive-through penalty and his next tyre stop finally dropped him behind the McLaren. To complete a bad day for him, he then broke his Ferraris left front suspension after clobbering a kerb in Turn 12 on the 33rd lap.
Mercedes benefitted from Hamiltons misfortunes and a long run by Schumacher left him clear of team mate Rosberg as Hamilton struggled with his cars handling for the rest of the race and posed no threat.
Jaime Alguersuari drove another excellent race for Toro Rosso to take eighth and the team should have had ninth too, but Sebastien Buemis STR06 dropped out with mechanical problems after they had caught and passed Adrian Sutils Force India. The German thus took ninth after a race-long fight with Sergio Perezs Sauber and Vitaly Petrovs Renault, while Bruno Senna was 12th after a late tyre stop ahead of Force Indias Paul di Resta, who was delayed after being in the fight with Perez and Petrov.
Heikki Kovalainen ran as high as 10th during all the pit stops but had to be content with 14th for Lotus, well ahead of Rubens Barrichello who had to fight back from a start-line collision with Williams team mate Pastor Maldonado, then first-corner clashes with Virgins Timo Glock and Saubers Kamui Koboyashi. The latter was out there and then, Glock made it back to the pits before retiring and Maldonado later stopped with mechanical woes.
Jerome DAmbrosio was 16th for Virgin ahead of HRTs Narain Karthikeyan, who had a race-long duel with team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was closing fast at the end before having to make a late tyre stop. They were 17th and 18th ahead of Lotuss Jarno Trulli, who was spun by one of them on the opening lap and was never able to make up lost ground after a long pit stop.
Vettels dominant win brings the world champions points tally to 374 from Button on 240, Alonso on 227, Webber on 221 and Hamilton on 202. In the constructors stakes, Red Bull have 595 points to McLarens 442 and Ferraris 325, which means the British team have secured second place in the standings ahead of the Italians. Further back, Force India hang on to sixth place with 51 points, but Sauber and Toro Rosso are now equal on 41.
Vettel also set the fastest lap of the race - on the very last lap - for the third time this season. It means he could catch team mate Webber, who is still the clear leader in the 2011 DHL Fastest Lap Award standings on five, followed by Hamilton and Button on three apiece.
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