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Motorsport | Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull © Action Images

Indian GP: Exclusive Race Report



Newly-crowned double world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) won the first-ever Indian Formula One Grand Prix near Delhi on Sunday.

Vettel was chased hard by Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) but never looked in danger of losing his lead, crossing the line 4.8 sec ahead. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) had a boring afternoon and finished half a minute behind.

Mark Webber (Red Bull) had a couple of battles along the way and finished fourth, followed by Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) the only others on the lead lap.

McLaren's result gave them second place in the 2011 Formula One Constructors' Championship after Red Bull took the overall title earlier. Red Bull has 595 points followed by McLaren (442) and Ferrari (325).

Vettel has already sewn up the 2011 title, but second place is still not decided with four drivers still in the frame - Button (240), Alonso (227), Webber (221) and Hamilton (202).

As the race started, Vettel led away from pole position (his 13th this year) second-placed team mate Mark Webber lost a place to Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) in Turn 4 on the opening lap and the Australian then came under pressure from Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).

There was contact in the first corner between a number of cars, and again at the second corner cars went spinning off the track. At the end of the first lap, Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari), Timo Glock (Virgin-Cosworth) and Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth) all pitted for repairs with Barrichello's stop taking a long time as the team fitted a new front wing to his car. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) stopped on the circuit while Jarno Trulli (Lotus-Renault) pitted with a puncture.

At the end of the first lap, Vettel was leading from Button, Webber, Alonso, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) and Bruno Senna (Renault).

The race got started in late summer heat with the air at 31ºC and the track at 38ºC but there was so much heavy smog and air pollution that it was impossible to tell whether it was a sunny day or not.

On lap four, Glock retired.

Webber began putting maximum pressure on second-placed Button, but even using his DRS he was unable to find a way past as Button set the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 - 1'31.275..

Leading Positions on Lap 10

1 Vettel
2 Button +4.8
3 Webber +5.8
4 Alonso +8.5
5 Massa +10.1
6 Hamilton +12.3
7 Rosberg +18.0
8 Schumacher +20.4
9 Sutil +25.5
10 Alguersuari +27.7

Button improved his lap time by two tenths of a second on Lap 11 as he aimed at reducing Vettel's 4.5 sec lead.

On lap 14, Pastor Maldonado (Williams-Cosworth) lost drive from his gearbox and parked at the side of the track, while Alguersuari got past Sutil into ninth. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) was next to attack Sutil and getting past cleanly and the German pitted on the next lap, fitting soft-compound tyres.

Webber and Alonso pitted together on Lap17, the first of the leading group to do so. Alonso lost a place to Schumacher but a lap later took it back again.

Hamilton pitted too, taking on softs as did Schumacher. Button did the same on Lap 19 and retained his second place and was followed a lap later by race leader Vettel, who returned in the lead. 

Leading Positions on Lap 20

1 Vettel
2 Button +3.1
3 Webber +8.8
4 Alonso +11.9
5 Massa +13.9
6 Hamilton +15.6
7 Rosberg +29.5
8 Senna +37.4
9 Schumacher +36.0
10 Kovalainen +40.5

Vettel set a new fastest lap of 1'30.058 on lap 21 and improved that to 1'29.922 on the next lap, but Button was just a hundredth slower and the gap remained around three-and-a-half seconds.

Hamilton began a full attack on fifth-placed Massa and drew alongside but had to back off when he ran out of track.

On the next lap, Massa went to the right and left a gap up the left that Hamilton moved into, but Massa turned left for the next corner and with Hamilton in the way there was contact between the two cars. 

"He turned in on me! He didn't give me any space!" said Hamilton over the radio.

Hamilton returned to the pits for a new front wing and returned in ninth place while Massa retained fifth, but Massa was penalised for the unavoidable accident and was given a drive-through penalty. 

Hamilton caught Alguersuari in eighth but was a bit more circumspect about passing.

Alonso set a new fastest lap of 1'29.568 on lap 28 but Vettel responded, going five hundredths quicker.

Massa served his drive-through penalty on lap 31 and returned in seventh place as Hamilton got past Alguersuari into eighth. On the next lap, Massa made a pit stop for fresh tyres and a new front wing, rejoining in 11th.

The front wing on Massa's car was the same type used during practice on Saturday which began oscillating and fluttering, dragging along on the ground in a shower of sparks. Regulations prevent a wing from moving. 

Massa completed only one lap before the suspension on his Ferrari broke again on the kerbs, the same as happened during qualifying on Saturday. 

Hamilton was in seventh, 10.9 sec behind Schumacher, but half a second a lap quicker than the seven-times world champion, who was 3.3 sec behind his team mate Rosberg.

Webber pitted on lap 38, with Alonso following on the next lap. The harder compound tyres were fitted, which appeared to be offering slightly better lap times than in practice.

Meanwhile, Button set a new fastest lap of 1'28.523 as Webber closed up on third-placed Alonso.

Leading Positions on Lap 40

1 Vettel
2 Button +5.3
3 Alonso +41.0
4 Webber +41.7
5 Rosberg +51.0
6 Schumacher +53.6
7 Hamilton +64.6
8 Alguersuari +76.5
9 Senna +1 lap
10 Sutil +1 lap

Vettel set a new Formula One record for the most laps led in a season.

Both Rosberg and Hamilton pitted for hard tyres on lap 45 with a straight run to the end of the race, 13 laps away. Strategically, Button pitted on the next lap from second place. Vettel responded with a stop on lap 47, also taking on hards.

Leading Positions on Lap 50

1 Vettel
2 Button +2.8
3 Alonso +19.4
4 Webber +20.8
5 Schumacher +30.3
6 Rosberg +53.4
7 Hamilton +69.1
8 Alguersuari +84.5
9 Senna +1 lap
10 Sutil +1 lap

Webber ran wide and off the track at Turn 11, but rejoined the track, maintaining his 10-second cushion over Schumacher as Vettel set a new fastest lap of 1'28.029.

Schumacher pitted on lap 50, running wide off the pit entry lane on his way in. As he left the exit lane, he locked up his rear wheels into the first right-hander as Rosberg closed up on him, but as his tyres came up to temperature he was able to ease away.

With three laps remaining, Rosberg set the fastest time in the first sector on lap 57 and Webber punched in a 1'27.559, one-and-a-half seconds behind Alonso. Team mate Vettel responded immediately with a 1'27.457.

Webber closed to within a second of Alonso and was able to begin using his DRS, but he ran out of laps.

2011 Indian F1 Grand Prix - Race Results
Pos Driver Nat Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel GER Red Bull
2 Jenson Button GBR McLaren +8.4
3 Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari +24.3
4 Mark Webber AUS Red Bull +25.5
5 Michael Schumacher GER Mercedes +65.4
6 Nico Rosberg GER Mercedes +66.8
7 Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren +84.1
8 Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso +1 lap
9 Adrian Sutil GER Force India +1 lap
10 Sergio Perez MEX Sauber +1 lap
11 Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault +1 lap
12 Bruno Senna BRA Renault +1 lap
13 Paul di Resta GBR Force India +1 lap
14 Heikki Kovalainen FIN Lotus +2 laps
15 Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams +2 laps
16 Jerome d'Ambrosio BEL Virgin +2 laps
17 Narain Karthikeyan IND Hispania +3 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo AUS Hispania +3 laps
19 Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus +5 laps
DNF Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari DNF
DNF Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso DNF
DNF Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams DNF
DNF Kamui Kobayashi JAP Sauber DNF
DNF Timo Glock GER Virgin DNF

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