|Reb Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, right, finished 8.4 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, left [AFP]|
Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel has won the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit outside New Delhi.
Sunday’s race was Vettel’s 11th win of the season and victories in the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi would equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a season.
The German led the race from start to finish, maintaining a comfortable buffer throughout to finish 8.4 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso a distant third.
“All in all it was a smooth race, the car was very well balanced,” Vettel said. “I’m very proud to be the first winner here in India.”
The race saw a collision between McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, intensifying their ongoing rivalry.
With Massa in the wrong, he was given a pit drive-through penalty before later breaking his front suspension and retiring from the race.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber was fourth, ahead of the Mercedes pair of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
Vettel, who also recording the fastest lap, and his team are not letting up despite already having clinched the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.
“There is no sign of getting lazy and not paying attention to detail and it’s great to see that,” said Vettel. “All the people come with their questions and we give them the right answers.”
He made his trademark start, pushing his lead beyond four seconds after just five laps.
Button cut the gap to 2.7 seconds after the second set of pit stops, when both switched to the harder tyres.
“As soon as Seb got into a rhythm, I had to forget about it really,” Button said. “As a team we did a perfect job … we couldn’t have done anything else.”
Alonso overtook Webber by waiting a little longer for his final pit stop to change to hard tires. The Australian closed within a second of Alonso on the final lap, but the Spaniard held on to claim a podium finish.
“It was a little bit surprising he decided to stop,” Alonso said. “We did two extra laps and were able to overtake him.”
Hamilton was forced to pit stop with damage after the collision with Massa, and that was enough to push him down to seventh.
Massa made it a weekend to forget when he went too hard over a high-speed curb and snapped his front suspension – the same mistake he made in qualifying.
Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari was eighth, Adrian Sutil was ninth to give Force India points in its home race. Sauber’s Sergio Perez took the final point for 10th after starting 20th on the grid.
Button increased his lead in the fight for second in the championship, moving 13 points ahead of Alonso, with Webber a further six points back.
Before the race, all drivers and top team personnel plus Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone observed a minute’s silence on the grid to mark the deaths of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon and MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli this month.
“We lost two of our mates,” Vettel said. “It’s a bit mixed emotions today, and my thoughts are with them at this moment.”