Sunday, October 28, 2012

Indian GP: Sebastian Vettel Wins With Sights On Title

Sebastian Vettel-Red Bull Racing Ltd/Getty Images
For the second time in two years, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel started from pole and handily won the Indian Grand Prix. It was a dominating victory with no challenges from any other drivers. If there was a skip in Red Bull's day, it came toward the last laps when Vettel's under-tray produced sparks under braking and teammate Mark Webber suffered a KERS failure, enabling Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to pass for a second place podium, 13 points and 9.4 seconds behind Vettel.

Webber managed to stay slightly ahead of both McLarens for a third-place finish. "It was a difficult race, very difficult for me to get into a rhythm, we had a few issues we needed to manage on the car but fair play to the other guys it was good, tough grand prix," he said, "Lewis and Fernando were very strong on the hard tire and with our KERS it was very difficult."

This was the first time Vettel has finished first four consecutive times during one season and he has equaled the record for leading every lap of a race for three consecutive grands prix which was set by the legendary Ayrton Senna for McLaren in 1989. For today's win Vettel applauded his entire crew, "I think it’s been an incredible two years for us, both times to come here and win the race, get the pole on Saturday and win the race on Sunday is fantastic. I don’t know what is it about this circuit but I really like the flow of it. Big thanks to the team, as I said on the radio, every single one is pushing very hard and I think there’s not one thing that stands out and makes the difference: not today, not yesterday, not this weekend. I think it’s all of us working hand in hand together." 

The McLarens rounded out the top five as Lewis Hamilton came in fourth, right on the heels of Webber. This leaves Hamilton all but out of the chase in the Driver's Championship. Needing 75 points, he would have to win the remaining three races in order to take the championship. Teammate Jenson Button followed Hamilton past the checkered flag for fifth. Felipe Massa finished sixth, secure with the knowledge that his contract has been extended one year through 2013. Later, teammate Alonso tweeted: "I am so happy to continue another year with @Felipe1Massa as a team-mate! I'm sure we are the best team! #ForzaFerrari". 

Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen came in seventh and while he's third in the standings and 67 points out, he is all but eliminated from the Driver's Championship. Rounding out the top ten are Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus's Romain Grosjean, and Bruno Senna, in an effort to save his spot with Williams, coming in tenth. 

The Driver's Championship has clearly come down to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It is difficult to see the Spaniard taking home the prize as Vettel and Red Bull seem above the the field, but Alonzo remains optimistic. When asked if his second place finish was bittersweet, Alonso replied, "It’s not easy at the moment to fight with Red Bull...Yeah, we lost points but I think this was more or less the plan this weekend: we were not fast enough to compete against them, so we lost the minimum points, which is finishing second, so as I said, better races will come. We were quite fast in a straight line but we are still missing a little bit of grip in the corners that hopefully will come in the next races."

Here are the top five drivers as they stand in the hunt for the Driver's Championship:

1. Sebastian Vettel       Red Bull        240
2. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari           227
3. Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus             173
4. Mark Webber         Red Bull         167
5. Lewis Hamilton      McLaren        165

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