Vettel wins inaugural Indian GP

Sebastian Vettel is just two victories shy of equalling a record many thought would never be touched after his latest triumph in today’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

Vettel wins inaugural Indian GP

Sebastian Vettel is just two victories shy of equalling a record many thought would never be touched after his latest triumph in today’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

For the first time in his career the Red Bull star achieved Formula One’s grand chelem of pole, win, fastest lap and leading for every single lap, to further underline his dominant campaign.

In the end, Vettel finished a comfortable 8.4secs ahead of Jenson Button in his McLaren to take the chequered flag for the 11th time in his career to leave him two wins shy of Michael Schumacher’s 2004 mark of 13.

Again, though, arguably the major talking point to emerge from the race was yet another incident involving Ferrari's Felipe Massa and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

On this occasion the four-man stewards’ panel laid the blame, and rightly so, at the door of Massa as the duo, inextricably drawn to one another this season, collided for the sixth time.

Their latest coming-together unfolded on lap 24, just as Hamilton had dived down the inside of Massa on the approach into the left-handed turn five as he attempted to claim fifth place.

The Brazilian, however, swiped across the Briton, and for the most part emerged unscathed, unlike Hamilton who was forced to pit for a new front wing.

Unsurprisingly, the stewards – that included Johnny Herbert – called an investigation, and very quickly opted to hand Massa a drive-through penalty which he served at the end of lap 31.

Four laps later, though, his race was run, and likely Hamilton will feel justice was served, and quite remarkably in a mirror-image of what unfolded at the end of qualifying.

On that occasion Massa ran over a strip of concrete – that has been given the unconventional nickname ’sausage’ – that runs behind the corners and are designed to prevent drivers from cutting them.

The incident, at turn seven, resulted in Massa breaking the front- right suspension of his Ferrari, after which he then ran into the gravel and a tyre wall.

Today, it was turn eight that caught out Massa, only this time the damage occurred to the front-left suspension, retiring soon after on track.

Prior to the incident, Hamilton had an outside shot at the podium, but after it his race was compromised, leaving him to trundle home seventh, more than 84 seconds behind Vettel.

At least there was a comical moment as cameras picked up footage from inside the McLaren garage where Rowan Atkinson was a guest, the funnyman pulling his usual rubber-faced expressions at the moment the duo collided.

Either side of their clash, India’s debut was hardly the most riveting of races because try as he might, Button could not get close enough to Vettel.

After the Briton had passed Alonso into turn one, then Webber into turn four on the first lap, trading places with the Australian over the next two laps, his one-two with Vettel never altered.

The German then consistently managed to keep the gap between them hovering between three and five seconds before finally opening up a cushion over the closing stages.

In the end it was another comfortable victory for Vettel to further cement his dominance on a one-sided campaign, leaving him with just records to aim for in the final two races.

Behind the leading duo, pit-stop strategy in the second round at two-thirds distance, allowed Fernando Alonso to claim third in his Ferrari from Red Bull’s Mark Webber, still without a win this year.

Then came the Mercedes duo of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, followed by Hamilton, with Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari, Bruno Senna for Renault and Force India’s Adrian Sutil claiming the minor places.

After a podium celebration which saw Vettel temporarily blind technical guru Adrian Newey with champagne, he was typically modest after his achievements on track.

“It was a very good race,” he said. “I enjoyed the time in the lead, I had a little bit of a fight with Jenson who strangely kept closing in at the pit stops.

“All in all it was a very smooth race, the car was well balanced.”

Vettel paid tribute to Wheldon and Simoncelli, adding: “I’ve a little bit of mixed emotions.

“I’m very proud to be the first winner of the Indian Grand Prix, but then on the other hand we recently lost two of our mates.

“I didn’t know Dan Wheldon, but he was big in motorsport, and then this year I got to know Marco Simoncelli, so our thoughts are with them at the moment.”

Button and Alonso echoed the sentiments, with the former stating: “It’s been a tough weekend for everyone after the two fatalities.

“I knew Dan very well, so this is a very sad day for motorsport.

“We should dedicate this first Indian race to Dan and Marco, a super-talented guy, the most amazing guy to ride on a bike.”

Alonso added: “As Jenson and Sebastian said, a tough weekend, and out thoughts are with Dan and Marco.”

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