The 2013 Indian Grand Prix panned out as expected with Sebastian Vettel not only winning the race, but also sealing the drivers’ championship for the season. With a massive lead of almost 30 seconds over second-placed Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, Vettel once again dominated the show at the Buddh International Circuit on Sunday.
Starting from pole, the 26-year-old turned in a trademark clinical performance to win his third straight Indian Grand Prix and join Formula One legends Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as just the third driver to win four consecutive world championships. The only other driver to win four titles is Alain Prost. What’s more, Vettel is also the youngest four-time world champion by eight years.
Vettel, who had claimed pole position on Saturday, didn’t lead from start to finish on race day. His strategy in qualifying meant he had to pit early on in the race to get rid of his soft compound tyres and move on to the more durable medium compound sets. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took the lead in this period.
What was beautiful about it, though, was the way Red Bull stategised for Vettel. They pitted him just two laps into the race after which Vettel worked his way to the front of the pack. While this plan worked, Vettel’s closest rival and the only man who could have kept the title race alive got off to a disastrous start from which he never really managed to recover.
After a first-lap scrap with Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had to come in for a front wing change that dropped him to the back of the field. He finished a poor 11th. In the end, there was no need for any mathematical calculations. Vettel took the chequered flag and the world title even though he will be crowned champion only on December 7 at the FIA Awards ceremony.
Mercedes GP’s Rosberg drove the perfect race to the best of his and his car’s abilities to finish second, but the driver of the day was Romain Grosjean who started in 17th place and finished third. It was a mix of aggressive strategy and supportive driving from the Frenchman that got his Lotus on the podium and it seemed like the perfect time for this to happen. With Kimi Raikkonen moving to Ferrari next year, Sunday’s show will help Grosjean cement his place in the team as the top driver.
Webber could have ended up making it a dream weekend for Red Bull, but a gearbox problem forced him out of the race after 39 laps.
Massa finished fourth and was followed by Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil and Daniel Ricciardo. The constructors’ title is also Red Bull’s, and so the only point of interest in the three remaining races will be the fight for second place between Mercedes and Ferrari. Ditto with the drivers’ championship that will see Alonso (207) up against Raikkonen (183).
Double delight for Force India
Greater Noida: Force India pulled off a bold strategy to score their first double points finish at their home race with both its drivers finishing in the top 10. Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
1 Sebastian Vettel, Germany/RedBull
2 Nico Rosberg, Germany/Mercedes
3 Romain Grosjean, France/Lotus
4 Felipe Massa, Brazil/Ferrari
5 Sergio Perez, Mexico/McLaren
6 Lewis Hamilton, Britain/Mercedes
7 Kimi Raikkonen, Finland/Lotus
8 Paul Di Resta, Britain/Force India
9 Adrian Sutil, Germany/Force India
10 Daniel Ricciardo, Australia/Toro Rosso
2010-2013: Champ all the way
By winning the Malaysian, European, Japanese, Brazilian and finally with the Abu Dhabi GP, he becomes the youngest champion in F1 history at 23 years and 135 days
Completely dominates the year, winning races in Australia, Malaysia, Turkey, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Belgium, Italy and Singapore. A third-place finish in Japan makes him the youngest back-to-back and double world champion at 24 years, 99 days
Wins races in Bahrain, Singapore, Japan, Korea and India. A sixth-place finish in Brazil ensures he is the youngest triple world champion and holder of three successive titles at 25 years and 146 days
Road to glory
Australian GP, March 17 Qualifying: 1; finish: 3; total points: 15
Malaysian GP, March 24 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points: 40
Chinese GP, April 14 Qualifying: 9; finish: 4; total points: 52
Bahrain GP, April 21 Qualifying: 2; finish: 1; total points: 77
Spanish GP, May 12 Qualifying: 3; finish: 4; total points: 89
Monaco GP, May 26 Qualifying: 3; finish: 2; total points: 107
Canadian GP, June 9 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points: 132
British GP, June 30 Qualifying: 3; finish: DNF; total points: 132
German GP, July 14 Qualifying: 2; finish: 1; total points: 157
Hungarian GP, July 28 Qualifying: 2; finish: 3; total points: 172
Belgian GP, August 25 Qualifying: 2; finish: 1; total points: 197
Italian GP, September 8 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points: 222
Singapore GP, September 22 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points: 247
Korean GP, October 6 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points: 272
Japanese GP, October 13 Qualifying: 2; finish: 1; total points: 297
Indian GP, October 27 Qualifying: 1; finish: 1; total points 322
THAT’S A FOUR
Vettel is now the sport’s youngest quadruple champion at the age of 26 years, 117 days, and is also the only one to have won his first four consecutively
He is only the third driver to win four successive championships, after compatriot Michael Schumacher and the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio
Only four drivers have ever won four titles - Fangio, Schumacher, Frenchman Alain Prost and now Vettel
1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany/Red Bull) 322, 2. Fernando Alonso (Spain/Ferrari) 207, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland/Lotus) 183, 4. Lewis Hamilton (Britain/Mercedes) 169, 5. Mark Webber (Australia/Red Bull), 10. Paul Di Resta (Britain/Force India) 40, 13. Adrian Sutil (Germany/Force India) 28
1. RedBull 470, 2. Mercedes 313, 3. Ferrari 309, 4. Lotus 285, 5. McLaren 93, 6. Force India 68