Vettel One Day Away From F1 History With Stunning Pole In India
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  26 Oct 2013   |  12:38 pm GMT  |  223 comments

Sebastian Vettel has put himself in the box-seat for a fourth consecutive World Championship at the age of 26, with a dominant display in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

It is the 43rd pole of the German’s career, his third in a row in India, and the seventh of 2013.

Such is Red Bull’s dominance at this moment that Vettel’s pole time was 7/10ths of a second faster than Rosberg could manage. Both Mercedes went with the soft tyre because they felt from the practice runs that they had better race pace on it than their rivals. The opening stint will be flat out for Rosberg and Hamilton and they will hope that Alonso and Raikkonen lose time behind slower rivals.

Vettel needs to finish fifth tomorrow, should Fernando Alonso win, to take his fourth title. And his task was made significantly easier with Alonso only managing to qualify in eighth place after opting to set his fastest lap on the medium compound tyre with an eye on tomorrow’s race.

The session always looked to be one of split strategies due to the fragility of the soft tyres, which we expect to last only five or six laps in to the race. Therefore, with Vettel in a different league this weekend on softs, his team mate and some other players chose to qualify, and thus start, on the medium tyre.

Mark Webber was the quickest of those, taking fourth place and putting himself in with a good chance of victory tomorrow. He will lead the race following the early stops, assuming their is no trouble around him in to the tight turn one.

Alonso, meanwhile will have a more difficult task in the Grand Prix. He will lose time in the opening laps in traffic and could find himself out of touch with the Red Bull and Mercedes pairs.

Like Red Bull, Ferrari used a split strategy but must have seen the medium tyre choice as the best choice of strategy. They put Felipe Massa on the soft tyre, taking him to fifth place and from their he can assist Alonso by keeping Kimi Raikkonen at bay in sixth.

Raikkonen has struggled with one lap pace during the weekend, often lapping slower than Romain Grosjean. But sixth place will give Lotus confidence ahead of the race in the knowledge that they are more kind to their tyre than Mercedes and should challenge them for the final podium spot.

Grosjean had a session to forget in the sister Lotus. The team felt that he could make his way out of Q1 with two runs on the medium tyre, only for the Frenchman to tumble down the timesheet and end the day in seventeenth place. He has a difficult task tomorrow in order to keep up Lotus’ pressure on Ferrari and Mercedes in the Constructors Championship

The top ten is completed by the McLaren pairing, with Sergio Perez getting the edge over Jenson Button. They also qualified on the medium tyre, but illustrated strong pace throughout the session.

Button topped Q1, the first time McLaren has led any session in 2013.

It should be a fascinating tactical battle tomorrow, Vettel will have work to do and Webber has a real chance of holding on for the win, which he is minded to go for after what happened in Japan.

Meanwhile Mercedes has given itself a good chance to outrun the Lotus and Ferraris to the podium.

INDIAN GRAND PRIX, New Delhi, Qualifying

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m24.119s
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.871s +0.752s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.941s +0.822s
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m25.047s +0.928s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.201s +1.082s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m25.248s +1.129s
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m25.334s +1.215s
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.826s +1.707s
9. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m26.153s +2.034s
10. Jenson Button McLaren 1m26.487s +2.368s
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m25.519s +0.951s
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m25.711s +1.143s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m25.740s +1.172s
14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m25.798s +1.230s
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m26.134s +1.566s
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m26.336s +1.768s
17. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m26.577s +1.003s
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m26.842s +1.268s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m26.970s +1.396s
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m27.105s +1.531s
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m27.487s +1.913s
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m28.138s +2.564s

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Well done Sebastian. Fourth time world champion.

Nice job with the doughnuts and celebration with the crowd, throwing gloves in crowd.

Sky commentator: “Kimi was told to get out of the bleeping way.”

Did Kimi actually have time to put in a fastest lap between when he pitted and when Seb crossed the line?

Tornillo Amarillo

VETTEL is not exciting like Prost… Today, KIMI is.


Its a shame.. Pirelli went conservative 2 times in 2011 and 2012 and we ended up with a boring Indian Grand Prix. But this one looks set to be a cracker.

I really don’t care about Sebastian wining the GP and making history to become the youngest ever 4 time WDC winner. That’s expected out of him.

It makes you wonder how different would have been the attitude of the fans towards the race if Pirrelli were thinking straight earlier….


James! stop playing with models. you need a new hobby mate! lol. You could/should start a little sideline tipping comp for next season. We can then see if the boffins really do have the edge on predicting outcomes.

Just a thought. I like to test my predictions on this forum, as I’m sure most would. Of course you’d have to put up some prizes 😉


The soft tyre blistering is the worst we’ve seen with Pirelli, but you’re right that if they had brought medium and hard it would have been a very dull one stopper

Sim models say Webber wins this race by around 3/4 seconds from Vettel – we’ll see!


Not sure I really want to see [mod] win a 4th. Ho hum. Really hope Hamilton and Alonso get competitive cars next year.


What is the difference in lap times between used options and used primes? Do the options drop off by a big margin after a flying lap or are they good until they fall off the cliff?

Webber may be able to stay close in those first few laps and when Vettel pits he’ll be in traffic among prime tyre runners on their first stint, possibly in a train of cars all getting DRS from one another. Will Vettel be able to move through this pack?

If Vettel can get the overtakes done then it may come down to where Webber comes out after his first stop, assuming he has the lead. If he’s in front of Vettel then it’s game over but even if he’s behind he will have an opportunity to get Vettel while he’s on the softs in the final stint.

Alonso is looking good for a podium also or even the win but I think it will come down to whether Vettel can get the overtakes done in his second stint. Hopefully it’s an exciting race!


Their = belonging to them

There = there


I look forward to a great display from Sauber and Hulk. The circuit seems to suit the car and Hulk needs to add more pages to his resume. As for people wishing Seb DNF, I think we should wish Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari to come up with something mighty or at least witty to spice things up. Mindblowing to see those bulls taking those “eses” almost flat out!


As for people wishing Seb DNF, I think we should wish Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari to come up with something mighty or at least witty to spice things up.

True that 🙂

And I am a Kimi fan.


[mod] Really a season to forget for Alonso. Ferrari gave him the best car to start the season, was clearly the best car still by the time the European season came around, yet never managed to lead the championship. Hulkenberg ahead of Alonso again in the Sauber with its customer Ferrari engine!


James, why nothing about Hulkenberg????

Tornillo Amarillo

…and HULK? What about him, P7, doing a top, consistent job again!

Sad Red Bull-Ferrari overlooked him, but he still fights.


James do you think Vettel would still have been on pole if he had used the mediums, or would he still be behind the Mercs?


He would be behind the Mercs


Only sorry that El Classico was today as another snoozefest is in store for tomorrow… I am happy for Vettel … great driver… but this sport is almost unwatchable. I now get, as a Schumacher fan, how other felt during that era.


Vettel on pole???? Why am I not surprised! 🙂

I know Charlie Whiting is allowing it and I know everybody is doing it, however I still wish that drivers kept to the limits of the track. I’m afraid I disagree that drivers are not getting a benefit from doing it, if they weren’t, they simply wouldn’t do it. It would be nice if there was a way to safely make the outside of the track something that drivers wouldn’t want to go on as it would slow them down or lose position.


Watch out for Romain causing mayhem at the start.. maybe a safety car right at the start.. Webber should be in for the win if he can get a half decent start although you can never rule out a Vettel romp from pole.. hope Kimi gets back on the podium, his car seems to be set up more for the race


Massa is fifth. That position comibned w/ his ability to pull off rocket starts, and his angst to do well could combine for a calamitous first corner.


I’m a huge Mark Webber fan so after he qualified in the 4th position, I was very excited about his chances of winning the race tomorrow until I heard that no F1 race driver has ever won a grand prix after qualifying on the prime tyre. Is this true?


Its a good question. same might be said about no top ten qualifier even making it through on primes!….definitely no where near 4th.

In the past, most qualifying on Primes have been either out of position or way out of contention for a top ten. Mark did an incredible job in Quali! Fernando has a good chance too.

Then again, we’ve never seen tires go off so quick either. It will be very interesting to see what Vettel does to cover Webber, but he’ll have his own battle with the Mercedes in the beggining for sure.


Hey James:

When you wrote, in a previous article, in response to a contributor describing the four-wheels-over-the-white-line, phenomenon, during practice, that it would be discontinued for qualifying and race, I must admit, I thought it was ‘case closed’, and expected it to be so.

But this hasn’t happened, and I believe that it would be worth an investigation by the best, you.

Please share with us the benefit of your capability.


There was a meeting and Charlie said that as he sees it you don’t gain advantage by running wide. I disagree and so do many team sporting directors but there it is

You cannot cut a corner, like T7 here, for example you will be penalised for that. But running wide is kosher this weekend

Shame, as all tracks should be treated equally


I think we’ll see a fine race from Raikkonen. Quietly he is working on the tyre pressure/camber issues that caused him difficulties. If he is not stuck behind Webber or Massa [or even if he is!] a podium is possible.

Interesting that, unlike Kimi, Grosjean did not highlight his mistakes in q1. It takes a great deal of self confidence to own up to your own errors.


Yep Kimi is honest about his mistakes and without any fuss just works in getting the performance back.

Surely a slap on the face for other drivers who just whine and whine and who don’t deliver on the track and for the people who questioned his motivation.


If Kimi is stuck behind Massa/Webber he could pit early and run hard and fast in clean air.

Perhaps as early as lap 4!

Quite a bit of this strategy depends on whether the field from 11 to 22 start on mediums or sorts.

Another fascinating F1 race.


Half of the world wanna see Vettel abandoning tomorrow! Hope it happens…


Most of the world! Vettel is bad for F1. Even if you like him. Good sport needs competition. I bet Bernie secretly hates this! How do you solve a problem like Vettel? Every fortnight when I watch the coverage on BBC Eddie Jordan et al. try to make each race sound interesting and exciting but come on folks we all know how it’s going to turn out….Vettel qualifies on pole, has clean air…speeds off into distance due to Newey car and wins. Borefest! Even Schumacher was interesting because we saw race craft, we saw he fight through the field etc..


Well, not seeing Vettel fight through the field is partially down to the FOM television directors, who somehow seem to ignore that.

Brazil, after Seb put himself to the back of the field, I’m like, “okay, he’s got this many cars between himself and the front”, and the next moment, “he’s in fifth; how the heck did he get there?!”

Today, the McLaren radio message to Perez to not resist Vettel, matters more to the viewing audience because out of maybe 10-12 cars that Seb has to find his way past, the director chose to focus only on Sergio, and a Torro Rosso that is not going to risk his 2014 seat.



I`m sure starting on primes is a better strategy for winning the race tomorrow. But that`s not the most important thing for Vettel tomorrow, the most important thing is to win the Championship.

That`s why Vettel was put on options. In securing pole position tomorrow Red Bull reduce the risk of anything happening to Vettel tomorrow at the start where accidents are most likely to happen. He`s got enough pace to be fifth or better any day of the week even starting on options.

They all say it doesn`t matter when you win the Chamionship but deep down they are desperate to close it out as anything can happen i F1.

Red Bull picked a strategy for Vettel to minimize the risk and thus win the Championship tomorrow. If Vettel`s main priority had been winning tomorrows race he would have qualified on primes.

This should be Webber race to win. I`d love for that to happen, but he needs to get past Hamilton and Rosberg rather quickly otherwise he might end up with his mirrors full of Seb towards the end.


If I was Vettel I would want to win as many wins in a row as possible with this car. And go for another record …


To minimize the risk is the only argument I can follow that Vettel didn’t take the premium.

(As I said before: looking at the times I’m sure he also would have gotten pole with premium)

But I can’t believe that RB thinks the WC still is not sure. Even if Vettel has DNF the rest of the season he will win the WC beause Alonso will not win 3 of 4 races (an the 4th he must be at least 2nd). Does anbody can imagine this? No!


Seb wants to win tomorrow more than anything. He’s not the sort of guy who wants to win the WDC with a minor placing. He’s the sort of guy that hits a 6 to win the game when they only needed a single 😉

Go Webber!


James, on the US broadcast it was said that Vettel had done his pole time on used tyres and had then gottten out again on new tyres, but aborted that lap. The question is why would RBR send him to do his pole time on used tyres when they knew those would be the tyres he’d have to start with? Were they truly concerned on losing pole and therefore planning two runs on Q3? Wasn’t it evident enough on Q2 that they would lock the pole easily? How much is Vettel’s strategy compromised by having to start on tyres that were already used on two qualifying runs?


You must start the race on the very same set of tires that you used on your fastest lap.

Does that answer your question?


No it was a new set of softs for Vettel


Alonso cut a chicane in q3 and wasnt even investigated i guess because nobody bothered to complain to the stewards. Others were running wide too but they didnt gain an advantage at least.

Red Bull will probable wrap up both titles tomorrow and it would be fun if they´d swap drivers between RBR and TR around for the last 3 races, not that it will happen though. But would be a good show for F1.


Posted a comment on how i was surprised to see Vettelon pole, but i think moderator did not believe me and decided to remove my comment:-) cannot wait to see who comes third:-)


Okay, well, well, well.

A word about, “Grosjean’s over-confidence”:

Lotus are in a very tight constructors battle. In the past two races, Grosjean has shadowed Vettel, including not going to the option, and thereby saving fresh option tires for the race. Lotus are trying alternative strategies to give him a leg up.

They are gambling, and there is always the chance of losing,.

This time they lost, things didn’t come together.

But they have to gamble to get up the constructors; so they did the right thing.

And let’s see how he does in the race.

As suggested by me, at the start of the season, Red Bull kept a few things in the bag, to release/implement at a time when the development lead time would preclude any innovation from being replicated.

This suspected system of floor flexing, written by Gary Anderson, is very intriguing; I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work on next year’s car(s)?!?

Go Kimi go!


Is the floor *flexing* ie, bending, or is it moving up and down in a flat plane? Maybe the bracketry flexes, allowing the floor to move up and down without actually flexing. Whatever it is, it’s probably a verrrry fine line 😉


Very good Glenn.

Based on very well established trends, I feel a low probability that the solution is adequately covered by the governing rules, therefore, very likely technically legal, based on a long history of similar events in F1.

Furthermore, should there be an oblique potential coverage of the solution, under the governing regulations, I feel an even more extremely remote probability that any tests would invalidate the solution.

This is what having the ridiculously gifted solution-maker on your team, at the height of his power, I should add.

I understand why so many people call for seeing SV perform in a car designed separately from this power, yet for the vast majority of champions, being at the right place, at the right time was critical to their championship.

If it does actually exist (!?!), and cannot be governed, then I hope Ferrari get it for next year. That combined with a few fresh solutions from the fine mind of JA, and hopefully an engine at least in the range, … would be good.


I always thought Vettel should do a fast lap with primes and wait and decide whether he also try it with the soft. And if I look at the times it seems nearly assured that he also would stand in pole with the primes.

So – why didn’t they (he and his team) try it?

I think all of you will admit that the victory with primes in pole would be much easier than with the soft.


What RBR did with Vettel in Q3 is called 100% confidence combined with the “take no prisoners” motto. Why Seb would try the mediums in Q3 and risk losing another pole for his personal record?

What seb has to lose now that the DWC is wrapped and ready to deliver?

Why let someone else take the pole if you have a car who can pull +3s/lap when the DRS is still not available? After 5-8 laps, he’s gonna be close to the front runners after the pit stop and the rest is just DRS game.

Can Fred or Webbo stay ahead, I seriously doubt it. Right now, F1 season is more about how RBR manages to win and the other drivers fighting for the slops. Extreme domination by RBR. Hope the other top teams learn the lesson and become better prepared for 2014


OK, if RB and Vettel think so and the +3s/lap will turn out right I still can’t understand their decision – because:

You and RB take for granted that he wins the start! If not?

We can be happy with his decision because now it will be a little bit exciting. (And if not exciting we maybe can see his stunning laps at the beginning) It’s the only way – different strategies – for Webber to have a chance. And I think it’s a chance without risk vor him. Using the benefits of his car he will be 2nd for sure anyway and now he stands a chance for the 1st place (if he is at least 4th after the start 😉 )


Good point. I was thinking the same thing.


Well its a close call even if he starts on primes he’d still have to use the options later on.


True but the car will be lighter and he will be so far ahead at that point that he could conserve the softs and cruise to victory…. as usual.


Of course – but if you use the soft at the last stint the car is much lighter and they will go for some more rounds.

So Vettel has to change tires early (before raund 10?) and after the stop he will be in the mid of the traffic.

So I think the strategy of Webber is better especially if you got pole – but we will se.

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