India analysis - Red Bull not quite invincible 29 Oct 2012
Just as in Korea, there was no stopping Sebastian Vettel as he dominated the Indian Grand Prix for the second year in succession. Red Bull team mate Mark Webber should have followed him home but encountered a KERS problem that enabled Fernando Alonso to limit the damage in the title race with a feisty drive to second place for Ferrari. The McLarens should have been in there too, but didnt come alive until they switched from the troublesome soft Pirellis, on which their rivals had thrived, to the hard compound tyres. We take a team-by-team look at the New Delhi formbook
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P3
Vettel owned the race and led throughout, his only minor concern being some sparks from his undertray under activation of DRS late in the race. He said it didnt affect the car or slow it down, and won as he pleased to extend his points lead over Alonso to 13. Webber should have followed him home, such was the RB8s superiority in the opening laps, but ran into KERS failure after 20 laps. That robbed him of top speed and compromised his brake balance, and on the 48th lap he fell prey to Alonso.
Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P6
Ferraris big asset this weekend was straight-line speed, and that was what helped Alonso past both McLarens early on, and to pass the crippled Webber on the 48th lap. Several times during the race he demonstrated similar speed to the Red Bulls, so the Scuderias focus has to be on qualifying in the remaining three races. Massa said he could have beaten the McLarens, but after 20 laps he was told to conserve fuel. He thus did just enough to stay ahead of Raikkonen, who tailed him throughout.
Lewis Hamilton, P4
Jenson Button, P5
McLaren were all at sea initially on the soft Pirelli, and that cost them their chance of victory. In his pit stop Hamilton needed a fast steering wheel change after a downshift problem was detected, while the left rear stuck momentarily on Buttons MP4-27. Once they got on to the hard tyre, however, the cars flew, and Hamilton just missed out on a podium place. Button set the fastest lap on the final tour, McLarens 150th. So for them, it was a race of what could have been. But the two finishes meant McLaren matched Ferraris record of 55 consecutive points finishes.
Kimi Raikkonen, P7
Romain Grosjean, P9
Lotus simply lacked straight-line speed, and that hurt Raikkonen and Grosjean as they were forced, respectively, to trail Massa and Hulkenberg throughout the race.
Nico Hulkenberg, P8
Paul di Resta, P12
Hulkenberg was delighted with a fighting eighth place, which he said represented the best that the VJM05 could have been expected to provide. Di Resta was condemned to struggle throughout with the balance issues that had compromised him in qualifying.
Bruno Senna, P10
Pastor Maldonado, P16
Senna and Maldonado showed good race speed and were in the thick of the fight for points. The Brazilian took the final one after a feisty race, and set the second fastest lap, but Maldonado ruined his chances in a tyre-ripping clash with Kobayashi.
Nico Rosberg, P11
Michael Schumacher, Retired lap 55, gearbox
Rosberg didnt have enough car beneath him to score even a point, after looking racy in the early stages, while it was Schumachers turn for trouble on the opening lap as his right-rear tyre got tagged by Vergne in the first-corner traffic. After the inevitable slow lap back to the pits he made slow progress, and was under investigation by the stewards for ignoring blue flags when he was pulled in because of concerns over his gearbox. The stewards subsequently cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Daniel Ricciardo, P13
Jean-Eric Vergne, P15
Both cars had wing-brushing moments; Ricciardo survived being tagged in Turn One by Perez, but Vergnes race was ruined by his first-corner brush with Schumacher. He staged a strong recovery from 23rd to 15th, however.
Kamui Kobayashi, P14
Sergio Perez, Retired lap 20, suspension damage
At one stage Saubers race looked promising, as Perez fended off Hulkenberg for eighth. But then he blistered the left-front tyre, and after that a brush with Ricciardo cut his right-rear tyre and led to the suspension damage which prompted his retirement. Kobayashi never had the same confidence in his C31, and was involved in a minor brush with Maldonado which hampered his chances of fighting for the final point.
Vitaly Petrov, P17
Heikki Kovalainen, P18
The two Caterham drivers again fought throughout, with the verdict again going to Petrov after Kovalainen met with a KERS problem at two-thirds distance.
Charles Pic, P19
Timo Glock, P20
Pic won the intra-team battle here, after making the most of the first-corner melee to make a cracking start and then fighting the recovering Caterhams with all he had. Eventually their KERS told, but he said he was very happy with his performance. Glock said he had some bad vibrations through his front-right tyre, especially in the second sector.
Narain Karthikeyan, P21
Pedro de la Rosa, Retired lap 42, brake failure
HRT were in brake trouble early on, as Karthikeyan was told to cool his within four laps. Later De la Rosa crashed backwards into a wall after his failed, but fortunately he was unharmed and the impact was relatively light on the F112.
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