Vettel triumphs at inaugural Indian GP

By on Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sebastien Vettel. Photo credit: Red Bull GEPA

Sebastian Vettel won the first Indian GP with a lights-to-flag victory from pole position that also saw him record the fastest lap. The champion was followed to the flag by McLaren's Jenson Button and the third-placed Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

People had questioned whether Red Bull would have the motivation to continue their dominant streak now that both world championships have been secured but with an untroubled 11th victory of the season Vettel laid that notion to rest.

“The car is fantastic,” he said after the race in the official FIA press conference. “The team is enjoying it and we have been on a run, basically, since the beginning of the season and it is great. We enjoy every race. The great thing is you walk into the garage every morning and you see the guys and they are flat out. They are pushing very hard and there is no sign of getting lazy and not paying attention to detail. It is really enjoyable to see that knowing that we have already achieved a lot this year, but we are still hungry.”

Behind Vettel, Button made ground up in the first four corners of the race. Starting fourth, he passed Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari for third at turn one and then got a better exit onto the long back to pass Mark Webber and convert third into second. And there he stayed, despite Webber’s best efforts to take the place back over the first ten laps.

“Then it was basically trying to hang on to Sebastian,” said Button, “but as soon as Seb got into a rhythm I couldn’t do anything about it really – but all in all for the team I think we have done a perfect job today. We couldn’t have done anything else.”

Alonso, meanwhile, followed Webber through the first two stints, and then grabbed the final podium place by running two laps longer than the Australian. Webber came in earlier than expected on Lap 37 for the mandatory change to the hard tyre. Given that the soft was much faster, this presented an opportunity.

The Ferrari driver hammered out fast laps while Webber struggled on cold, hard rubber. Alonso did two extra laps, dived into his pit and emerged comfortably in front. “We know that with the hard tyres, the first two laps maybe they are not as good as the soft and we were debating on the radio what to do in the second stop,” said Alonso. “Stop one lap before Mark or wait? The team made the right call, waited for Mark to stop and then tried to take advantage of the extra lap or the extra two laps, expecting some warm up issues with the hard tyre for them.”

The result was enough to secure second position in the Constructors’ Championship for McLaren, and strengthen Button’s position in the race to be second in the Drivers’ Championship – though the Briton was nonplussed by that possibility. “Congratulations to the team for second,” said Button. “It’s sad always to say congratulations for second but it does make a big difference to the team, moving into the new season. Second in the Drivers’ doesn’t mean as much as second in the Constructors’: I think when you’ve won a World Championship, nothing else will do except for first place. Second in the Championship? You’ve beaten everyone except one person and it’s that one person that you really want to beat."

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