Vettel takes commanding pole in India

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 43rd pole position in Formula 1 with a commanding qualifying performance at the Buddh International Circuit.

The Red Bull Racing driver, who is on the verge in winning his fourth consecutive world championship at this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, was 1.7 seconds faster than his rivals thanks to his first flying lap – a time of one minute, 24.119 seconds – which ultimately became pole.

That statistic was skewed by the fact that all those out on that stage were using medium compound whereas Vettel was on softs.

But even the soft tyre option for Mercedes meant Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were seven tenths off the championship leader as they took second and third.

The shock of qualifying was Romain Grosjean’s Q1 exit. After fighting for the Suzuka victory in the previous race, the Lotus driver will need to get through the field at Buddh having chosen to use medium tyres in Q1.

Vettel was the only other driver who went for that strategy, but while he had no problem getting through in P11, Grosjean could only manage P17.

Mark Webber used the medium sets successfully in Q3 to take P4. He was only 0.928 seconds slower than his Red Bull team-mate, but crucially 0.8 seconds and four positions ahead of next-best medium user Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard’s Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa qualified in fifth, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg for Lotus and Sauber respectively.

McLaren used mediums for both its drivers as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button completed the top ten.

There were no surprises in Q2, with the Toro Rossos and Force India lining up on rows six and seven, ahead of Valtteri Bottas’s Williams and the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

Pastor Maldonado joined Grosjean among the Q1 departures, and was only 0.128 seconds clear of Jules Bianchi’s Marussia and 0.265 seconds ahead of Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham.

So a dominant qualifying performance by the defending world champion. His third successive pole at the indian Grand Prix and he is looking very strong in the race judging by the speed in the RB9. Vettel just needs to finish fifth or higher to become world champion.

Qualifying positions for the Indian Grand Prix:

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

107 per cent time: 1m31.564s

6 thoughts to “Vettel takes commanding pole in India”

  1. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel says tyre strategy won’t decide the race. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel believes tyre strategy will ultimately make little difference to the Indian Grand Prix result despite top teams’ split tactics.

    Pirelli’s soft tyre is wearing very rapidly this weekend, whereas the medium barely degrades.

    Vettel used the soft to take pole, a choice shared with the Mercedes immediately behind him, while the second Red Bull of Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso used mediums to qualify fifth and eighth.

    “We decided to go for what I did, and Mark decided to go for the opposite,” said Vettel. “What turns out to be the right strategy we’ll find out tomorrow.

    “But the race is long and you will have plenty of time to make it up. The strategy should not determine the result that much.

    “We have good pace and the car behaves well around here, so we will see what we can do.”

    A top-five finish in Sunday’s race will make Vettel the Formula 1 world champion for a fourth straight year, but he insisted this was not on his mind.

    “I am trying not to think about it,” he said. “It is difficult when every second person in the paddock asks you the same question.

    “We have done very well in the past focusing on every single step, and we see no reason to change things for tomorrow or the next couple of races.

    “We have a good position and we have worked hard to be there.”

  2. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has commented that he was driving ‘on a knife edge’ to get anywhere close to the Red Bull. has the details.

    Nico Rosberg admitted he was “on a knife edge” as he pushed to secure a front-row start for Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix.

    The Mercedes driver will start from second place behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who claimed a dominant pole position by over seven tenths of a second.

    Rosberg admitted he had to extract every drop of performance from his car in order to even get that close.

    “I am completely on a knife’s edge, really pushing to the limit, trying to extract that tenth more out of the car,” said Rosberg, who had last started from the front row in Singapore.

    “Qualifying second was better than I hoped for because of Mark [Webber] being on another strategy. The race is going to be tough.”

    Like Vettel, Rosberg will start the race with the softer tyres, but he denied the strategy was a gamble.

    “Of course it’s always a consideration, but we decided that the soft tyre was the best way to go. It’s not a gamble, it was the best thing to do.”

    Team-mate Lewis Hamilton qualified in third, the Briton admitting Mercedes is unlikely to be able to battle Vettel in the race.

    “I’ve struggled with something different on the car this weekend which Nico had experienced in the past,” he said.

    “I’m happy with the result and laptime I could get. We will try to push these guys as much as possible but they are in another world and we will try to be the best of the rest.”

  3. Romain Grosjean said Lotus was caught out by its soft-tyred rivals’ performance as he was eliminated in Q1 of Indian Grand Prix qualifying.

    Having finished on the podium at the last two grands prix, Grosjean is set to start 17th at Buddh.

    He stuck to the medium compound Pirellis in Q1, whereas everyone else bar Sebastian Vettel used softs.

    While Vettel still made it through in 11th place, Grosjean’s 1m26.577s was four tenths shy of what proved to be the Q2 cut-off.

    The Frenchman said he did the time Lotus had anticipated on mediums, but that his rivals’ pace had been a shock.

    “We planned a cut-off time before qualifying and all the cars ran quicker than we expected,” said Grosjean.

    “We are more or less where we wanted to be [on laptime], but it seems it was much more tight and the option tyre performed better than this morning.”

    Grosjean said he and Lotus were equally to blame for the unsuccessful strategy.

    “I made the decision as well, it is not right to blame the team or myself,” he said.

    “We just missed it for some reason. We will look at why. Sometimes it happens.”


  4. McLaren’s Jenson Button has admitted that the medium compound tyres hunt their qualifying performance. has the news story.

    Jenson Button said it hurt to use the harder tyres to qualify for the Indian Grand Prix, as he felt his pace on the soft rubber was very strong.

    Button posted the quickest time in Q1, but McLaren decided to use the medium tyres to qualify in Q3 so the Briton would start the race with those.

    After taking 10th on the grid, Button conceded it was probably the right strategy call despite the frustrations involved.

    “It probably is the right strategy call, but it hurts,” said Button. “The option running was really good: quickest in Q1 and I think I was second in Q2 with the old tyre.

    “It was looking quite good, so it hurts to be on the prime tyre.

    “I find it really difficult on the prime tyre because I couldn’t get any temperature in the tyre, so I think I was half a second off in the first sector.”

    He believes that even if the strategy gives him an early advantage as faster cars ahead pit to promptly get rid of their softs, retaining that ground will be hard.

    “The idea is that everyone will pit after five or six laps and then we’ll have clear air, but I’m sure I’ll see them again at some point,” Button said.

    Team-mate Sergio Perez qualified right in front in ninth place, the Mexican regretting the decision to use another set of tyres just to fight Button.

    “It looked like a fight between the McLarens, as Fernando [Alonso] was three tenths away and I don’t think I could have found that,” he said.

    “So on that side it was a bit frustrating because we could have saved tyres and started with new ones. But I still think we have a good strategy for the race.”

  5. Even Fernando Alonso had to play with the tyre strategies in order to have a chance in the Indian Grand Prix. has the story.

    Fernando Alonso said Ferrari had to try something different in Indian Grand Prix qualifying to have a hope of gaining ground in the race.

    The Spaniard qualified eighth, but was one of four drivers to use the harder compound Pirellis in Q3, along with Red Bull’s Mark Webber and the McLarens of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button.

    With team-mate Felipe Massa fifth on the softer tyre after Ferrari split its drivers’ strategies, Alonso reckons its decision could pay off in a race he thinks will ultimately be decided by the durability of the softer tyre.

    “I’m happy with my strategy,” he said. “The best decision from the team was to put one car on one strategy and one car on another.

    “At some point in the race we need to put the soft tyre on as well and we will struggle so we need to be ready for that.

    “But if we started on the same strategy we would not gain any places because we are not as quick as the others. Until tomorrow, no one knows what will work better. The better strategy will win.”

    Alonso is hoping Ferrari will be able to take advantage of its rivals’ use of the option tyre at the start of the race to gain track position.

    He is adamant the softs will prove problematic at some point, but is also wary of its potential to be a stronger tyre on race day.

    “At this moment, it’s difficult to predict what will happen tomorrow. In Germany I remember the soft tyres were not working very well, so we started on the prime and on Sunday the soft tyre lasted a very long time.

    “If the soft lasts, with good conditions and good pace, long enough the people in front will not have any problems.

    “[But] the soft tyres are not good. It’s not a hope, it’s the reality. If it’s a disaster tomorrow people will have more problems.”

  6. Mark Webber believes his strategy gives him an excellent opportunity to win the Indian Grand Prix, but admits it is very hard to predict whose tyre tactics will pay off.

    On a weekend when the softer tyre is only lasting a few laps while the medium option shows great longevity, Webber is the highest-placed starter on the more durable Pirellis.

    His polesitting Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and the two Mercedes ahead all qualified on softs.

    Webber is four places ahead of next-highest medium tyre starter Fernando Alonso.

    Asked if he felt that gave him a shot at winning the race, Webber replied: “Yeah. It needs everything to go right. You have a chance to be in a good position at the end.

    “But, you cannot really say how the race is going to unfold in terms of tactics. And how we saw [Romain] Grosjean in the middle of Suzuka, where did that come from? It only takes one guy to stop you winning.

    “You don’t know how clean a run you will have you come out of the pits, so that is a big factor in it.

    “You would think that the guy on the harder tyre should have a cleaner first 20 laps in the race, but if he has a clean run back through then the [driver on the] option is still pretty good.”

    Webber admitted that the laptime deficit to Vettel was not all due to tyre choice.

    “I would probably be a tenth and a half off Seb – so it was still a pretty good lap,” he said.

    “To be eight or nine tenths clear of some others guys on the prime was good, as I felt we weren’t as competitive on the prime to be honest.”


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