Sebastian Vettel wasn’t his usual self on Sunday. He wasn’t waving to the crowd as he got his gear ready. The smile was replaced by a stony, cold look. The whole preparation suggested he meant business. And that’s what it meant.
The German put his head down, lead from start to finish, to record his fourth win on the trot — the first time he has achieved this feat in his career. It was also his fifth victory of the season. As soon as he crossed the finish line, it was celebration time all the way.
He congratulated his crew on team radio and stood on the top of the car stretching out his arms. He lapped up the applause, punching the air in delight and spraying champagne on pit babes.
Happy he should be — after all, he didn’t put a foot wrong in the whole weekend.
From the first free practice to the final lap, everything was done with precision. His only moment of concern was during the later stages of the day when his under-tray generated a few sparks under braking but it didn’t turn out to be a major issue.
For Fernando Alonso, it was damage limitation. The Ferrari driver did his utmost to rein in Vettel but his best was 9.437 seconds short to be precise. He would have been happy with his result though. He pushed and pushed — from green lights to the chequered flag — taking many risks than he usually does.
He made sure that even if he didn’t better Vettel, he still managed to get as close as possible with a second place finish after starting fifth on the grid.
It could have been closer if Alonso had managed to pass both the McLaren cars on the first lap which he almost did. He did go past Lewis Hamilton but Jenson Button proved a bit trickier. The Spaniard waited till the fourth lap to find a gap but it was too late by then as Vettel had already opened a 3.5 second gap over his championship rival.
Thanks to Red Bull’s superior pace, Vettel managed to put in some distance between him and Alonso to lock the win.
Another fascinating aspect was the minimal tyre wear. Pirelli has suggested at the start of the weekend that some teams may do the race on a one pitstop strategy and that’s exactly what happened. Top teams such as Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Lotus — all did a one stop strategy. The smoothes of the Buddh International Circuit could be gauged by the fact that Vettel managed to do a staggering 33 laps on used soft tyres before he pitted. He was also the last to stop among the top 10.
Down the grid, Mark Webber finished third to move closer to Kimi Raikkonen in the championship. Webber couldn’t use his KERS towards the end of the race which was the only reason why Alonso managed to push him down. While Raikkonen sits third in the championship with 173 points, Webber is just six behind on 167. Hamilton is two behind on 165.
So Vettel leads the championship with 240 points, followed by Alonso on 227, a gap of 13 which is not too much with three more races to go.