GREATER NOIDA, India – Sebastian Vettel was barely challenged in the second Formula One Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, winning it even more easily than he did the first a year ago at the Buddh Int’l Circuit.
Once he’d shrugged off a half challenge from Red Bull teammate Mark Webber in the first corner, he controlled the race and won it easily. It was his fourth consecutive victory, and the first time since Ayrton Senna in 1989 that a driver has led every lap for three races in a row.
His only moments of concern were when his undertray generated a few sparks under braking towards the end, and when Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso pushed ahead of Webber when the Australian ran into KERS problems, and began to close the gap slightly. Vettel had plenty in hand, however, and won by 9.4 seconds to move 13 points clear of Alonso in the drivers’ standings.
Webber had his hands full with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren in the closing stages, as the silver car belatedly came alive on Pirelli’s harder tyre after failing to match either Red Bull’s or Ferrari’s early pace on the soft. That enabled Alonso to make moves stick after a first-lap charge against the McLarens succeeded in splitting them, and he at least kept himself in play for the title after another feisty run.
Hamilton just fell .6 second short of dislodging Webber from the final podium position while teammate Jenson Button, who had earlier held third before Alonso overtook and then suffered a slight delay with a sticking left-rear wheel during his pit stop, came through for a lonely fifth.
Vettel set the fastest lap on the final tour, only for that then to be beaten by Alonso, Williams’ Bruno Senna and Button himself. It was small consolation for McLaren, who had hoped to fight for victory.
Vettel’s victory puts him 13 points clear of Alonso in the hunt for the driver’s title, whilst his team moves up to 407 in the constructors’ table to Ferrari’s 316, McLaren’s 306 and Lotus’ 263.