Sebastian Vettel made more history today as he won the first Indian Grand Prix, setting a new record for most laps led in a season in the process. The German went past Nigel Mansell’s 692 laps led from the 1992 season.
It was his 11th win of the season and the 21st of his career.
It was one of Vettel’s most comfortable wins of the season; he won from pole position, led every lap and set the fastest lap.
“I’m very proud to be the first winner of the Indian Grand Prix,” said the world champion, “It’s a great country, great people, they don’t have much but they are happy and we can learn a lot from them. I find it inspiring.
“Jenson was at some stages very strong today. We were in a comfortable position, always controlling it, but with Jenson in my mirrors we had push to the end. I have mixed emotions with two tragic weekends for everyone who is a fan of motorsport. We have to pay respect to Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli who lost their lives, young and committed race drivers.”
It was one of Vettel’s most perfect wins; covering Button, controlling every phase of the race and taking no chances.
He opened a gap early on over Jenson Button and managed it to the end, making his pit stops calmly and keeping out of reach of McLaren’s Jenson Button, who had another strong race after a troubled qualifying session.
Fernando Alonso grabbed the final podium spot, after a race long battle with Mark Webber. Alonso’s mechanics were busy on the grid, fixing a problem on the left side of his front wing, with a retaining screw on the top element.
Three cars started the race on the hard tyre; Perez, Di Resta and Petrov.
At the start Button dived up the inside from P4 on the grid and went past Alonso, he then passed Webber on the long straight for the first time.
Behind them Trulli, Barrichello, Glock and Kobayashi got in trouble with various incidents and had to pit on lap one.
Di Resta pitted on lap 2 to get off the hard tyre and onto the soft, Perez and Petrov did likewise soon after.
Webber came back at Button on lap 5 using the DRS wing, trying a move at the end of the long straight, Button squeezed him out.
Michael Schumacher got a great start up to 8th, right behind his team mate Rosberg.
Lewis Hamilton got a poor start, losing a place to Felipe Massa, finding himself behind the second Ferrari as he has quite a bit recently.
Alguersuari and Buemi was in the the improved Toro Rossos were able easily to pass Sutil. Buemi retired however on lap 26, leaving a long trail of oil on the circuit.
Alonso, Webber and Hamilton all stopped on lap 16, Alonso falling behind Schumacher as he exited the pits. This cost him time in his battle with Webber. But he was able to pass the German a lap later.
Button pitted on lap 19, Vettel a lap later. Hamilton had closed on Massa by three seconds through the first round of stops, by pitting a lap earlier.
Hamilton attacked Massa for 5th place and got alongside, but Massa turned into him, yet another coming together between the pair.
This time it was definitely Massa’s fault, Hamilton came alongside and Massa turned into him, damaging the McLaren’s front wing. Hamilton had to pit for a new one, dropping to 9th.
“We had the one minute silence before the start of the race and me and Felipe were standing next to each other,” said Hamilton. “He hasn’t spoken to me in a long, long time so I put my arm around him and just said ‘good luck for the race.
“But in the race I tried to overtake and I tried to come out of it because it didn’t look like he was going to give me any space, and we collided.”
Massa wasn’t available for comment as I post this, but a comment from him will appear here soon.
Massa got a drive through penalty and a lap after serving it, when he was just 6 seconds ahead of Hamilton and all set for a second round battle, Ferrari pulled him in for a tyre stop and front wing change. He rejoined but soon after retired with a broken front suspension.
Once again it looked like he had hit a kerb at a bad angle and the front left suspension broke.
In the battle for third place, Webber was struggling with higher tyre wear than Alonso and when he suddenly lost a second a lap he was forced to pit and take the hard tyre. Alonso stayed out and was able to jump him when he came in for hard tyres soon after.
The two Mercedes drivers had a great battle for 5th and 6th places, Schumacher recovering well from a poor qualifying session to take the fight to Rosberg. He got ahead of the younger man in the second round of pit stops.
He was told “You are free to race, but keep it clean.” He held off Rosberg to the end.
Vettel set the fastest lap of the race near the end to round out a perfect day.
INDIAN GRAND PRIX, Buddh International, 60 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull 1h30:35.002
2. Button McLaren + 8.433
3. Alonso Ferrari + 24.301
4. Webber Red Bull + 25.529
5. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:05.421
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:06.851
7. Hamilton McLaren + 1:24.183
8. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1 lap
9. Sutil Force India + 1 lap
10. Perez Sauber + 1 lap
11. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
12. Senna Renault + 1 lap
13. Di Resta Force India + 1 lap
14. Kovalainen Lotus + 2 laps
15. Barrichello Williams + 2 laps
16. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 2 laps
17. Karthikeyan HRT + 3 laps
18. Ricciardo HRT + 3 laps
19. Trulli Lotus + 4 laps