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Indian Grand Prix – who was your driver of the day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2011   |  10:14 pm GMT  |  123 comments

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel became the first man to win a Formula 1 race in India when he scored his 11th victory of the season at the Buddh International Circuit but elsewhere in the field, there were a number of standout performances. So who was your driver of the day?

Sebastian Vettel

Arrived in India with the drivers’ title and constructors’ title for Red Bull already in the bag but refused to take his foot of the gas. Took his 13th pole of the season to keep him on course to break Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 in a single season. Made a clean getaway at the start and then comfortably controlled the race at the front to secure a lights-to-flag victory. It was his 11th win of the season and 21st of his career.

Jenson Button

Arrived in India looking to defend his second place in the drivers’ standings and showed good pace in practice. Qualified fourth after the stewards decided not to penalise him for a potential infringement. Made a good start, first passing Alonso for third place at Turn One and then Webber at the end of the long straight for second. Stayed within a few seconds of Vettel for most of the race but struggled to get close and ultimately finished second. It was his 10th podium of the season and extended the gap to Alonso in the championship. He’s also 38 points ahead of Hamilton now.

Fernando Alonso

Showed good pace in practice with Ferrari team-mate Massa topping the times in second free practice. Qualified fourth but was promoted to third following Hamilton’s three-place grid drop. Had a problem with the front wing when on the grid, but the team managed to fix it in time. Made a good start but got stuck on the outside in Turn 1 and lost a place to Button. Jumped Webber during the stops to run third – a position he would hold onto for the rest of the race.

Michael Schumacher

Demonstrated that the Mercedes was suited to the high-speed turns of the Buddh International Circuit with an encouraging performance in practice. But problems in qualifying, where he reported vibrations in the tyres, saw him miss out on Q3 and start 11th after various penalties had been applied. Saved his KERS until the long back straight which allowed him to make up three places. Managed his tyres well in middle stint, which helped him stay out longer and jump team-mate Rosberg during the 2nd stops. Finished fifth to close the gap to five points in the drivers’ standings. One of his best performances since the comeback.

Jaime Alguersuari

Produced one of his best qualifying performances of the season to qualify 10th alongside Toro Rosso team-mate Buemi. Like in Korea, showed good race pace and tyre management to outperform the Renaults and Saubers and ultimately finish eighth for his second consecutive points finish. As a result, Toro Rosso are now level on points with seventh place Sauber in the constructors’ championship. Force India are their next target.

Sergio Perez

On the back foot after getting a three-place grid penalty in Friday practice and therefore started 20th. Avoided the carnage at the first corner and than pitted after the first lap to get rid of the hard tyre. Showed good pace on the soft tyres, managing them well to finish 10th – his third points finish in four races.

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No one got my vote because no one blew my mind. Apart from Button running Webber out of track, no one did anything inspiring.

Vettel is the ultimate driver in the ultimate car. He qualified perfectly and he started perfectly, just as he usually does. After 13 poles and 11 wins with no one to rival him, he deserves plenty of praise, but there was nothing remarkable about his day.

Jenson Button is the penultimate driver in the penultimate car. His problem is that he never qualifies as well as he races. That’s a better combination than the reverse (qualifying well but racing poorly, like Webber) and I’m happy that he’s conservatively cementing his place as #2 in the world championship, but I’m tired of lauding him for making up places he could’ve had if he reached down, put a little fire under that cool demeanor of his and qualified ahead of Alonso and Webber. That would have made his race with Vettel much more interesting.

As for Schmacher, his performance is surprising in the context of his comeback (which had a slow start) but not surprising in the context of his career. He is, simply put, doing about as well as one would expect of an aging former wold champion.

Finally, Alguersuari and Perez: I’m happy for them, but they didn’t rock my world either. There are a lot of eyes on Perez, but driver of the day for tenth? I don’t think so.


Vettel is having a dream run, but Button was there all race but not close enough. To work the Red Bull strategy needs their driver (1) to be on pole (2) or/and get away in front of the pack (3) have a squabble for second place so that the leading R-B can get clean away and not be threatened by DRS/KERS from behind. Of course Vettel has been doing all that perfectly with his team mate is often doing the scrapping for second, as happened this time. The Red Bull flies as it is a real road car. However, if 2nd can keep in touch with Vettel from the start, that is where he is vulnerable as has been seen this season and he can get hauled-in by better KERS and speed. Webber illustrated the problem clearly in India – the car handled very well (’til the tyres went off) but didn’t have the straight-line speed to match the McLarens and even the Ferraris. Perhaps R-B need to set up Webber’s car as a speed car to give him a better chance with the pack?


Schumacher is mastering those Pirellis big time. Again, he pitted exactly at the time spot when the “old softs” equaled the “new hards” in performance, having kept his tyres alive for more than anybody among the frontrunners. Remarkable achievement for a 42yo.

Big credit to Perez and Alguersuari of course. Vettel is just enjoying his trouble-free time, this car looks a joy to drive, even from the outside, and he makes the most out of it.


He is in races at least


Yes, James, he is struggling at quali big time, don’t you think? I wander why is that


Sebastian scored his first grand slam today, and for that he is the driver of the day. Other than Alonso and Schumacher, does any other driver on the grid have one?


No, only those three racers on the current grid heve achieved a so called Grand Chelem. Schumacher does have five, Alonso and Vettel one all. It’s quite difficult to achieve a Grand Chelem, even multiple World Champions like Alain Prost, Graham Hill or Emerson Fittipaldi never achieved one.


There’s no right answer, but my feeling is that Vettel earned this DotD award. There’s something interesting that Sebastian said during the post-race press conference…

” I enjoyed the time in the lead very much. I had a little bit of a fight with Jenson. It was always around four seconds and strangely he kept closing in around the pit-stops. I don’t know, I was pushing very hard into the box and out of the box but we seemed to lose a little bit there so we need to understand. “

This guy has just won a race, leading every lap from pole, yet he is still looking for more. He is still analyzing the car’s and his own weaknesses, trying to eliminate any detail that could cost him victory. Many will say that this was a dominating win for Sebastian, but really, Vettel saw what I saw in the race while following the live timing… a vulnerability at the end of his stints where Jenson was clawing back the time right before and after the stops. This was not the walk in the park that it may have looked like. Sebastian had to work very hard against an incredible opponent who appeared to have even better tire management than his own on race day. I just can’t see how Vettel wasn’t what made the difference in keeping Button just tantalizingly out of reach the entire race, making no mistakes on a dusty, tricky circut. You may have seen a boring race, but I saw a great battle between two drivers at the top of their form.


Vettel did a fantastic job in qualifying. Unlike others, he set his best time on the first lap opposed to on the second lap like other drivers. According to Horner, Vettel was adamant he wanted it that way. Shows the quality and tyre management of a best driver. Lead the race from start to finish setting records. He set the fastest lap after turning down the engine and without KERS. Now how about that? Got to be him but since he is the best, I want to choose someone else.

Button should have qualified better but didn’t. Ok, he over took two cars but didn’t do anything impressive. There are other drivers who did more overtaking.

Alonso went for first corner glory and lost a place. Then overtook Weber on the pits. Nothing on the track. His name doesn’t deserve to be here.

Schumacher had problems during qualifying but saved the KERS at the start of the race, used it at the right places, preserved his tyres and finished higher. Definitely my driver of the day.


Button for me, but just barely over Vettel. Button did what needed to be done early in the race and kept up with Vettel (assuming Vettel was pushing) throughout.

Button is gaining, and I for one am glad. We have 5 World Champion drivers all driving really well at the moment, this has been a fantastic season thus far.


Michael for certain… He never ceases to amaze us… There ought to be record for the oldest point-scoring-driver. I wonder who that would go to. But in this contemporary format of F1 and with this fast flowing direction changing track… A 42 year old doing this is a simply astonishing… He even looked visually fast.

Standing ovation to the greatest ever 🙂



A little history lesson may be required here. Look up a chap called Fangio, he was rather good in his day!!


Oh everybody knows him, he won 5 titles in a completely different era. Less competition, more danger can’t compare.


Vettel for sure!

I heard Williams has re-signed Rubens.

Bye bye Kimi.


It makes me wonder if it was more a case of Raikkonen saying bye bye Williams. After an F1 career in a McLaren and Ferarri, he probably realizes the only thing left at Williams is the name.


You heard it from Frank?


Alonso IMO. He was fast when he needed to.


That’s a no brainer – Vettel. All the others put in admirable performances, but they were just fighting for scraps under the table.


Schumi better not start winning. Like Vettel he will no longer be liked by the fans. This is 4th or 5th time this season he’s got this vote wrapped up.

But I guess Vettel is better off taking the hardware than the hearts of voting fans.


Vettel, Button, Schumacher all had excellent races today and its hard to split them.

I think Pirelli went too conservative for this race as Super Soft and Soft or Medium would have given us a much better race.


Apart from Vettel with his total consistency Schumie takes my vote in being “up there” at 42 years of age. I felt a little saddened for the F1 fans of India in that their inaugural race was little more of a procession with very little wheel to wheel racing. The yawn of McLaren’s KERS vs RB’s DRS straight line performance is never going to hold water. Even if MW did manage a pass on JB it is most likely going to be lost by being out dragged from the next corner. An injection of a wow factor apart from KERS and DRS is badly needed in F1. Vettel can produce that now when he needs to, most others are lagging.


If we’re going the by term driver, then Vettel is definitely that. For most of the season hes been a driver, not a racer. Even when hes caught up further back, he hasn’t shown much brilliant racing like defending against a DRS zone car and overtaking. Few exceptions being Barcelona and Monza. I’m almost Jenson Button did more overtaking in Canada than Vettel has done the entire season.

Now if we’re going by racers, Sergio Perez gets my vote with his great drive which sees him have potential to move on to greater team like Ferrari.


Voted for MSC but Perez is a bit special.


What a boring race. I was really excited for this season after the first few races, weather played its part, tyres mixed it up and there was plenty of racing overtakes for position among the top cars. Nowadays its back to the old ways under Bridgestone.

Anyone that thinks Vettel was the driver of the day, all I’m going to say is that just because he won, set the fastest lap time etc etc etc doesn’t mean he is automatically the driver of the day. Anyone remember Barrichello? U know that guy that had the fastest car a couple years back and was winning races and fighting for the championship.. Where’d he go? Oh yeah he wound up in a slow car. Where is he now? Fighting for 15th position..

Thing is with F1 – its all down to the car – and with the raft of reguation changes recently and with this blown diffuser this year if your not in a red bull then u might as well not turn up.

I’m not saying Vettel isn’t a good driver. He is a very good driver but I don’t think he had the best race of everyone today – perhaps we should look towards Karthikeyan given the guy hasn’t been in a F1 car for however long and beats the guy that has been there all season or Perez for moving from 20th to 10th or Alguersuari who has been quite consistent over the last few races, racing and beating closely matched competitors.


And one more thing – PLEASE PLEASE bring back some element of powertrain development to get us away from this godforesaken 100% reliability!!!

I long for the days when you saw the tell-tale wisps of blue smoke 3/4 of a lap before a massive blow-up. Oil all over the track, liberated pistons zinging into the air!

We need to return this sorely-missed ‘chaos’ factor.



I hate having engines all equal, however some are more equal than others.

The lack of diversity on the engine front does stick in ones craw. Then again the cost implications would be horrendous.

This subject has been covered before and is a can of worms.


I would rather see them devote their millions to engines instead of winglets though.


How true.

Just imagine a world with less wings, bit of ground effect and plenty of spondoolees to spend powertrain development.

Best have a ly down, too much for my system to cope with.


I initially welcomed the Pirelli’s relative fragility. But it’s completely negated by the limtations imposed on the number of tyres per weekend. If these ‘token’ environmental/cost limits are here to stay (who do they think they are kidding?) then the tyres do need to be more durable – Likewise, if you are going to encourage short-stint tyres for strategic variation – then you need to take the limits of the number of sets the teams get.

Surely this is the most basic of common sense!?

F1 should never be in a position where ultimately faster drivers lose out to slower drivers.

I like a bit of strategy as much as the best man, F1 is not drag racing afterall – but in the same vein, neither is it test match cricket.


I’d nominate Karthikeyan to the list. Jumping back in the car on a new circuit he matched his teammate in quali and beat him in the race. Couldn’t have done any better.

Probably the last time we’ll see him in F1 as well.


Hi James, I don’t think we need to put Vettel in the bracket anymore. It’s been a while since he has been the driver of the day for so long.And I believe he will continue that.

It’s simply undeniable, even for a Schumi fan like myself.

So from now on, the title should be “Who was the driver of the day outside of Vettel”. And of course it has to be Michael.


Button was sublime and Schumacher was excellent. Somehow a wide track and exciting Pirellis produced very little racing, was it just the dust ?

Vettel again did very well in a car that is over half a second faster than the opposition, again flattered by a teammate who cannot extract the maximum from the car on any consistent basis. Very hard to judge him, he keeps on scoring in open goals.


I am not a fan of Vettel and I don’t hate him. But I have come to realized that he can’t just win. If he wins comfortably, it’s because of the car, if he doesn’t, it’s because he sux.


This will be a first, but I cannot see any other driver than Vettel being the driver of the day. He was faultless. I just wish he wasn’t such a over jubilant winner. If he were to stop that and be a bit more gracious in celebrating his victories, I would be a fan.


James, I heard something that was very new to me and sounded interesting when it was mentioned in commentary about ‘sound engineering’ i.e. listening to replays of cars laps to determine everything from precise speed to gearing ratios etc. Could you maybe do an article on this or is it as simple as it sounds?

Keep up the excellent work.

Oh, and Vettel for my vote. Clearly he is in a class of his own this season, and just because he makes it look so easy, you cannot ignore how flawlessly he is driving.


Schumacher. Plus a mention for Kovalainen, great drive to finish 14th.


Difficult to find anything special in such a boring race.

Vettel didn’t put a foot wrong but that doesn’t make him driver of the day.

Button gave us some exitement on the first lap but didn’t deliver the race with Vettel that initially looked possible.

Alonso & Webber almost raced each other but apart from remaining in each others company for most of the race they never really did much.

Schumacer finished well from his poor qualifying position.

The start has to be Algesari delivering such a good result in the Torro Rosso (was that really the Minardi a few years back?).


Was Torro Ross really a Minardi a few years back?

Was Red Bull Racing really a Jaguar or Stewart Racing a few years back?

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