Formula 1 News

Dominant Sebastian Vettel wins first Indian GP

The double champion cruised to his 11th victory of the season. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso finished second and third respectively.
Sunday, October 30, 2011

GREATER NOIDA, India, Oct 30, 2011 (AFP) - World champion Sebastian Vettel made history by winning India's first ever Formula One on Sunday as McLaren's Jenson Button tightened his grip on the championship's second place.

Red Bull's Vettel led wire-to-wire for his 11th victory of in 17 races, finishing some 8.4 seconds ahead of Button with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso third and Australian Mark Webber fourth.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher battled to fifth but McLaren's Lewis Hamilton came in seventh after yet another collision with his Ferrari nemesis Felipe Massa.

But Vettel was in a class of his own at the all-new Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi as he closed on Michael Schumacher's 2004 record of 13 wins in one year, with two races left this season.

The 24-year-old German, who became Formula One's youngest back-to-back world champion when he reclaimed his title in Japan, also set a new record for laps led in a season as he surpassed Nigel Mansell's 1992 mark of 692.

"The car is fantastic, the team is enjoying itself and we are on a run basically since the beginning of the season, and it's great," said Vettel.

"It's really enjoyable to know that we have already achieved a lot this year but we're still hungry so we're not lacking motivation at any stage.

"All the people come back with their questions but we seem to give them the right answers."

India's debut grand prix got off to a sombre start when the teams and 95,000 spectators held a minute's silence for IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and MotoGP's Marco Simoncelli, who died this month.

But the racing, in dry, 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) heat, began furiously when Rubens Barrichello was hit on the first turn and three cars ended up off-track, before Jarno Trulli found himself on grass.

Vettel made no mistake from pole position but Button nipped past Webber and Alonso to go from fourth on the grid to second, cueing up an early dogfight with the Australian Red Bull driver.

As they duelled, Vettel opened up a lead of nearly five seconds and after the first set of stops, the young German emerged from the pit lane still at the head of the field.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado was the first retirement with a gearbox problem and Sebastian Buemi had to stop his Toro Rosso when it started pouring smoke.

And there were fireworks on lap 24 when Hamilton, trapped on the inside by Massa as they hared towards a left-hand turn, shunted the Ferrari driver across the track in the latest of a series of collisions between the two.

Massa was given a drive-through penalty and Hamilton pitted for a new front wing, but the Brazilian's race soon ended in farce as a kerb shattered his front suspension -- a replay of the mishap he suffered in qualifying.

"There is not much to say. It's a disappointing day and my team deserve better," Hamilton said afterwards. "I'll fly back (to Britain) and try to get my head back in the game."

Button threatened to close the gap on Vettel in the final laps but there was no catching the young German and he punched the air as he took the chequered flag in front of the giant grandstand.

"I felt really competitive and that was when I could really close the gap down," Button said. "But as soon as Seb got into a rhythm I couldn't do anything about it really."

The race's build-up had been overshadowed by the two motorsports deaths and the controversial spectacle of glamorous Formula One appearing in one of India's poorest regions.

But its private-sector organisers were celebrating a smooth and successful event which has helped bury memories of last year's Commonwealth Games, which are remembered for their poor organisation and corruption.

2011 FORMULA 1 INDIAN GRAND PRIX PROVISIONAL RESULTS

POS.
GRID
CHG
PTS
No
DRIVER
TEAM
LAPS
TIME/RET
1
1
0
25
1
Sebastian Vettel
RBR-Renault
60
1:30:35.002
2
4
2
18
4
Jenson Button
McLaren-Mercedes
60
+8.4 secs
3
3
0
15
5
Fernando Alonso
Ferrari
60
+24.3 secs
4
2
-2
12
2
Mark Webber
RBR-Renault
60
+25.5 secs
5
11
6
10
7
Michael Schumacher
Mercedes
60
+65.4 secs
6
7
1
8
8
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
60
+66.8 secs
7
5
-2
6
3
Lewis Hamilton
McLaren-Mercedes
60
+84.1 secs
8
10
2
4
19
Jaime Alguersuari
STR-Ferrari
60
+1 Lap
9
8
-1
2
14
Adrian Sutil
Force India-Mercedes
60
+1 Lap
10
20
10
1
17
Sergio Perez
Sauber-Ferrari
60
+1 Lap
11
16
5
10
Vitaly Petrov
Renault
+1 Lap
12
14
2
9
Bruno Senna
Renault
+1 Lap
13
12
-1
15
Paul di Resta
Force India-Mercedes
+1 Lap
14
18
4
20
Heikki Kovalainen
Lotus-Renault
+2 Lap
15
15
0
11
Rubens Barrichello
Williams-Cosworth
+2 Lap
16
21
25
Jerome d'Ambrosio
Virgin-Cosworth
+3 Lap
17
23
22
Narain Karthikeyan
HRT-Cosworth
+3 Lap
18
22
23
Daniel Ricciardo
HRT-Cosworth
+3 Lap
19
19
21
Jarno Trulli
Lotus-Renault
+5 Lap
Ret
6
6
Felipe Massa
Ferrari
+28 Laps
Ret
9
18
Sebastien Buemi
STR-Ferrari
+36 Laps
Ret
13
12
Pastor Maldonado
Williams-Cosworth
+48 Laps
Ret
24
24
Timo Glock
Virgin-Cosworth
+58 Laps
Ret
17
16
Kamui Kobayashi
Sauber-Ferrari
+ secs

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