Vettel wins colourful first Indian Grand Prix, pays tribute to fallen racers
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2011   |  12:57 pm GMT  |  71 comments

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

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Just want to say one thing , I’m 100% sure that if massa had had a retirement from a broken radiator or something from that incident , Hamilton would’ve been given a drive thorugh instead .

The fact that massa was lucky that he didn’t get damage from that incident while Hamilton had to change his wing made the stewards go towards handing the penalty to massa instead.

My opinion about it is that massa was 1- clearly ahead 2- on the racing line , therefore it was 100% Hamilton fault


For the first time since 2004 I actually turned off a race before the end. This was a boring race – fact. With KERS and DRS, it was still a procession. We know what DRS can do to a race so it must have been a problem with the track layout.

Massa’s move was a disgrace. I wouldn’t presume to tell a racing driver to give up a place, but surely a good driver should be able to recognise when a position is effectively lost and then do the honourable thing and yield. Looked like he was trying to destroy Hamilton’s race! Gosh! Would he contemplate such a thing???

Other than the intangible ‘off track’ problems Hamilton has got, I think some of his problems have been caused by being out of position. Problems with qualifying or starts seemed to have put him lower than he should be in several races this season which means he is trying to overtake to recover positions. I think he also needs to be a bit more patience and not simply go for the first chance that comes. The chance he went for yesterday wasn’t that great – although it was a chance. He should have used his knowlege of Massa’s attitude to him and waited a few more corners before trying a move on the start/finish straight, or the main straight.


Congratulations to India for staging such a fantastic and colourful event. Yes, it was a boring race but for me personally, it was OK this time round. A week ago, on Sunday morning, I was in shock after Marco Simoncellis fatal crash on live TV. Lets just finish this season in style, without any more dramas, and move on to 2012.


Just a small gut feeling, but Button is and has been looking good, strong with each race, and building himself a good foundation within McLaren, where as Lewis, for whatever reason is losing it each race, no matter what he says, his actions are still speaking volumes.

So going into 2012 where will McLaren put their trust in, to bring home the points and possible championship?

Some of the older – retired F1 drivers are starting to recognised that Button is smart & clever driver, but of course McLaren will always go for the corp. speak, so you never really get a truth full answer from them, and I guess you have to rely on pit lane gossip to see what McLaren will do.

So James, from your inside track on the movers & shakers, do you think McLaren are looking beyond Lewis now? Sure he has had a bad year, but at this level and the amount of retainers these drivers are paid. Friendship goes out the window pretty quickly, whereas results count.



Yes I really believe what I have written.

First things first;

Vettel won Abu-Dhabi & Brazil last year and what’s worse, he’s won most of the races in the first half of 2011 so repeating that feat is going to be impossible.

Second, all the first time (and young) two time WDC haven’t gone to win a third title from Alonso to Prost to Schumi.

Third, looking back at history, Newey cars have only dominated two years at a time before they’re beaten.

Fourth. no driver has ever won more than two titles in a Newey car.

So you see, the only one that’s going to be disappointed from here on out is – You!


So your saying that we should all be getting on Webber for next year as this current evolution has already dominated for two and a half years (remember which car was quickest for at least half of the Brawn year)? So, two and half years has knocked over the “only two years” for a Newey car.


@Udo Thiel Well thanks for your question.

You see the Vettel finger has the same effect of rubbing salt in ones wounds after an injury for here’s a guy that has just beaten my driver & then he comes & shoves his overly aggressive index finger in the camera (our faces).

But to be honest, I for one don’t really mind The Finger since it has the durable purpose role of whipping away tears too e.g. It worked over time in Germany 2011.


For all the positives of the weekend, this was a boring race; the most boring I have watched in a while and with all the signs of the onset of another Schumacheresque era. Take nothing away from Vettel and Newey, but it seems too easy for them. Alonso, Button and Hamilton just don’t seem to be able to take the race to Vettel. Roll on 2012 for a cleansheet.



just enjoyed watching mister bean’s reaction


First of all, credit to the organisers for doing a fantastic job in organising the event. They have done a fantastic job.

The first half of the race was boring and then it got a bit exciting. But overall it was not a great race. With double DRS zones, KERS and a wide track, there was hardly any action. I can’t understand the point of having a wide track when you can’t drive outside of the so called ‘driving line’.

Both Hamilton and Massa has to take the blame for the accident. Hamilton was trying to bully Massa out of the way at a place where you can’t possibly overtake. Ferrari needs to think seriously if they want Massa on their car next year. He is not capable of doing a complete race distance anymore. If Ferrari wants to win any of the championships next year, then they need to replace Massa. Again on the race day Massa’s front wings were flapping like crazy like a bird about to take off. If that was a legal wing, then why did Ferrari replace it with an older version?

Karthikeyan is the other driver who should get out of F1. On Saturday he almost ruined Schumacher’s qualifying and on race day, again he was blocking leading cars. If he doesn’t know how to use his mirrors, or has problems with his vision, then he shouldn’t be in F1. He ended up in front of Ricciardo only because Ricciardo had a problem with his car.

I really don’t know if some of the cars nowadays are driven by drivers or by engineers and technical staff. If you listen to some of the pit to car radio conversation, one might think some of the drivers are just puppets turning a steering wheel. No wonder Valentino Rossi was not interested in coming to F1.


A lot of people are talking abt the lack of excitement during the race. I wish they had taken super soft tyres, that would have added to the show like it has done at other venues.


An utterly boring race. I share the sentiments of some posters here, if as a serious F1 fan, I am finding the races boring, how will new fans view it? This was just another procession, if it weren’t for Massa and Hamilton driving foolishly I doubt I’d remember anything about it. India did their part…Tilke…I have no idea what to say. James, could we ever get a response from Bernie or Tilke on their definition of a successful track? Does it have anything to do with viewer entertainment whatsoever? I’d rather we replace the boring tracks with Spa and Suzuka… I’d rather watch two races at Spa in one year than one Abu Dhabi and one India.


If this race is anything to go by then Abu Dhabi will be just as boring. Perhaps you should make it a bit more interesting James by holding another competition; something along the lines of:

Which lap will Lewis Hamilton crash into someone?


These new “industrial” race tracks just do not produce the same races as Spa, Monza, Monaco etc. – the traditional circuits, no matter how hard designers try. Huge asphalt surfaces with painted stripes, no real character just artificial huge infrastructure. Maybe its fun to drive on it, but doest come across the screen. Too wide, too big, too uncharacteristic. And I have nothing against an Indien GP, just sometimes less is more.


James what do you say about Bruno Senna’s F1 future?


If we ignore that Pirelli was reportedly conservative approaching this race, it still does not validate the poor showing.

The general feeling is that races are becoming so static like they used to be last year and some of the other years.

Tires are becoming more and more durable and the strategy has lost almost all variables and inventions.

Almost nobody changes positions after the start. Almost all is decided in the start. The races are so predictable and uneventful that soon people will again start to complain. And they will be right.

Again this is becoming a dull second half of the championship (at least last year there was excitement in the championship table, although the the last races were not very exciting).

The problem is that all of the last years there are only a couple of winners. There were seasons not in the long past that also other drivers and teams were at least in contention for the podium . Some predicted that the gaps will be bigger this year but they are huge. There are three top teams among which during races there is little overtaking and then there is a huge gap to Mercedes and quite a big gap to other teams. That is not the main problem, but it is an interesting one.

The main is the total lack of excitement. And that can be said about all of the seconf half of the season, not only this race.

It is surprising that some people call Vettel boring and are tired of his domination. He is not at fault. He does what he has to do and does it well. The problem is the general situation in the races and the lack of competition.

There should be more thought put into this.


a) Overall Good Race.

b) TV Feed Scattered, was all all over the place. Didn’t focus on anything, leader’s race, home-driver’s race or any battles along the field. So big let down. If F1 has added artificial gimmicks like DRS to “improve the show” TV feed should at least show the DRS assisted shames instead to hovering over “Nothing”.

c) Hamilton-Massa – It was a racing incident, but given the background of their stormy relationship( Nicole has split, Rafaella must be on her way out), someone had to be penalized. So Massa it was this time. Massa had no place to go and he was ahead going into the corner, while Lewis was dashing for racing line. Sad very sad.

Lewis and Massa should perform “Come together” on Karaoke in after-party and make up.

d) Drives of the race – Vettel, Alguersuari, Karthikeyan, Ricciardo and Sutil.

e) Karthikeyan’s competitiveness throughout the weekend after so much less mileage in the car vindicates he deserves a drive in F1. But then sadly there are only 24 seats out there.


a pity that it was such a dull race as the circuit looked great, and I thought the promoters did a fantastic job to pack the stands in a way that other countries have failed to do.

On the whole the Tilke designed circuits do seem to throw up dull races, I wonder just how much that has to do with his design or the regulations that govern the design? any thoughts James?


A Grand Chelem from Vettel. He gets more impressive with each race. The race was a rather dull spectacle which is surprising with the excellent track layout. Did the dirt make drivers not go off the racing line? Was it something else?


Thankfully we have got to this point in the season, that I have longed for all season long i.e. ”The End Of The Vettel Era”.

After this race, I believe we won’t see the finger in the last two races & all races next year apart from a few one-offs like Bahrain for I seriously doubt Vettel can win anything again.

Surely the law of diminishing returns has to kick in now.

About this track, I now totally change my mind about it for while watching this race, horror images of Abu-Dhabi & Bahrain flooded my brain like a tsunami.

I wonder why Bernie doesn’t use different designers for each new track for it’s quite obvious Tilke’s well has run dry or maybe he has designers’ block.

Gosh, the race was boring that I can’t even think of a drive that deserves the driver of the day title.

And how come, these last races aren’t as entertaining as the earlier ones in the season, something has changed, maybe Pirelli have began making the tyres too durable like Bridgestone used to do.

I really feel sorry for the Indian fans for they were really excited about having a Formula 1 race at last but they go & get this track.

If Bernie & Tilke are reading this, enough with the health & safety tracks, we want every F1 circuit having walls at some corners like Canada. The cars are strong enough, they can handle the impact!


goferet, you always make me smile with your comments. I do enjoy what you write but why do you hate Vettel so much? He has done a great job this year and I am sure he will be up there in the coming years too.


@Rob Newman Hahaa thanks!

Well I don’t necessarily hate Vettel (since he beats Alonso for us) but the thing is am a Hammy fan & hate to see his thunder stolen.

And what’s worse, is this Vettel character surely can’t hold a candle to our hero but yet the car is flattering him for instance with everything being equal, am certain Vettel wouldn’t beat Hammy in qualifying.


Can you explain to a non-Britain please, what is wrong with the Vettel finger? Is it a rude gesture in Britain?


Thinking about this, as a Brit, the reason it winds us up so much is quite difficult to put your finger on! (Pun fully intended). I have come up with the following though, and bear in mind that I am actually a fan of Vettel as a driver, a person and an ambassador for the sport. I just can’t stand that wagging finger!

It is the implication of the gesture, more than the gesture itself. It says: “look at me, I am number 1”. I can’t recall any driver in history who has self-proclaimed in such a way before (except perhaps Hamilton, who, contrary to belief outside Britain, has made himself quite unpopular as a personality in the UK over the last couple of seasons).

Back to Vettel though – it is the self indulgence of the gesture, combined with the fact that he is young and so precocious – a double world champion by the age of 25 – that riles people. There is nothing wrong with success at a young age in itself, but because he has had a significant car advantage for most of the last two seasons, for many there is still doubt about whether he actually is number 1. Among the very best, sure, but no-one likes a show-off!


You said:

“And how come, these last races aren’t as entertaining as the earlier ones in the season, something has changed, maybe Pirelli have began making the tyres too durable like Bridgestone used to do.”

I agree completely with that (see also my post about it).

I had my suspicions that in time everything will return to the situation as it used to be. Maybe it is not like Bridgestone and maybe it will never be like that, and some races will be very good, but it is not enough. You can’t create interest during the whole season with a couple of good races.

The track itself is not at fault (at least it is not the only or main problem), there are other issues which need to be resolved.


@goferet: Do you really believe what you write??? I remember similarly strange lines of argument from you why Vettel should not win the 2011 title, races etc. earlier in the season…

I’m sorry to say but you will end up being very disappointed in the seasons to come 😉


What about the orange kerbs? :)


As to the race. As dull as a cricket play : )


You mean as dull as a baseball game? 🙂


hello James, Mansel’s record is more significant as there were not so many races in a season in that era.

It is still an impressive feat from Vettel & the Red Bull boys though.


I think if they convert it to % form I think Mansell will still be ahead, it will interesting to see that comparison.

Vettel has longer seasons and the new points system working in his favour


Honestly, I think it is very difficult to get Mark to second place if he do not want any gift from Seb or the team in the remaining races.


Schumi said in german TV that he wasn’t using KERS at start. He wanted reserves at the long straight, hoping for a hole to pop up.

Also that he learned to save tires, same as in last race when he had bad luck to be rammed out.

Seems being old and having experience isn’t that bad.


Sauber and STR now equal on pts, Sauber ahead on countback. That battle between those two and Force India is a good one.


Isn’t that called a grand slam, when you get pole, win, lead every lap and get fastest lap? Just looking up F1 records on Wiki, and it shows that this is the first time Vettel has achieved this.

Quite surprised by that in fact. I thought he did that in Singapore this year as well. Just saw now that Button took fastest lap in Singapore.


and if you followed the laptimes in the end – and the radio conversation, vettel and button (and webber) where fighting till the last lap for the “fastest lap” .. looked like both didn’t want vettel to get the grand slam

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