Vettel leads Red Bull Racing front row in India

Sebastian Vettel underlined his superior practice performance at the Buddh International Circuit by leading Red Bull Racing to its third consecutive front row.

The championship leader, who took over the lead from Fernando Alonso after his victory in Korea, actually made a mistake on his first Q3 run.

Unfazed by the error at Turn 7, Vettel responded with a time of one minute, 25.283 seconds on his second run to beat team-mate Mark Webber to pole. Webber’s challenge was then compromised by a mistake at Turn 3.

Vettel stayed out just in case he had to defend his qualifying status, before abandoning the lap once it became clear he was out of reach. By taking the top spot at the Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel is now third in all-time record list with 35 pole positions.

As for his championship rival, Fernando Alonso starts back in fifth.

The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button filled row two, pushing the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa down to row three.

Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and the Sauber of Sergio Perez will share row four.

Despite the fear that the Williams team lacked qualifying pace this weekend, Pastor Maldonado made it through into Q3 and took ninth.

Nico Rosberg also reached the pole shoot-out but did not set a time in the Mercedes.

Several teams saw one of their drivers reach the top ten while the other ended up in the midfield.

Romain Grosjean was pushed outside the Q3 cut late on, leaving him in P11.

Bruno Senna’s promising start to Q2 did not translate into a top ten appearance and will start the race in P13.

As for Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion lacked speed compared to his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg (six tenths of a second) and could only qualify in P14.

There were big intra-teams gaps for Force India and Sauber too, with seven tenths splitting Nico Hulkenberg in P12 and Paul di Resta in P16, and Kamui Kobayashi a long way off emulating Perez’s Q3 form in P17.

Jean-Eric Vergne was again eliminated in Q1. Heikki Kovalainen spun into the gravel at the end of the opening segment, leaving his Caterham team-mate Vitaly Petrov free to lead the tail-end pack.

So another dominant performance by Sebastian Vettel at India. Fastest in all three practice sessions and now pole position. Looking really good for another race victory and extending his championship lead over Fernando Alonso.

Qualifying positions at the Buddh International Circuit:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m25.283
2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m25.327
3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m25.544
4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m25.659
5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m25.773
6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m25.857
7.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m26.236
8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m26.360
9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m26.713
10.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             no time
11. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m26.136s
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercede  1m26.241s
13.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m26.331s
14.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m26.574s
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m26.777s
16.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercede  1m26.989s
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m27.219s
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m27.525s
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m28.756s
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m29.500s
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m29.613s
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m30.592s
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m30.593s
24.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m30.662s

107 per cent time: 1m32.071s

8 thoughts to “Vettel leads Red Bull Racing front row in India”

  1. After setting the quickest time in all three practice session before recording his fifth pole position of the season, championship leader Sebastian Vettel is convinced that race victory is far from certain. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel insists he has not achieved anything yet during the Indian Grand Prix weekend, insisting it is still all to play for despite securing another pole position.

    The Red Bull driver secured his fifth pole of the 2012 season to set himself up perfectly to score a fourth consecutive victory following those in Singapore, Japan and Korea.

    Championship rival Fernando Alonso qualified down in fifth position, boosting Vettel’s chances of increasing his gap in the standings on Sunday.

    “Tomorrow is the race. Today is qualifying,” said a cautious Vettel. “There are no points scored today. It’s better to have him behind than in front.

    “Tomorrow is going to be a long race and what sort of race it is, we are going to find out. That is why we are looking forward to the race. I am happy to be in the position we are but we go from there tomorrow.”

    Vettel took pole after having to abort his first run in Q3 following a mistake under braking at Turn 4.

    His next run, however, was good enough to beat team-mate Mark Webber.

    “I had to abort the lap and focus on the second attempt, which was fine,” Vettel added. “I was happy, braking a bit early for Turn 4. All in all a very good session for us, the car was fantastic.

    “The support we had from Milton Keynes and the factory was incredible and a big thank you to the guys there. We took another step forward.

    Today is a good result for us, but tomorrow is the main exercise. The McLarens were very quick on long runs and the Ferrari strategy could be a surprise, so we will see what happens.”

    Vettel reiterated that he would not look at where Alonso is and instead just focus on his own race.

    “We have to focus on the start tomorrow and focus on ourselves. What the others are doing we cannot influence.

    “Fernando could have been a second quicker today than anyone and there is nothing we could have done other than mind our business and get the fastest lap we can.

    “It is a long race tomorrow, there are a lot of things that can happen. If we are ahead it is better than being behind.”

  2. Red Bull’s Mark Webber is expecting a much closer fight in race following qualifying. has the details.

    Mark Webber believes the Indian Grand Prix will be closer than qualifying was after his Red Bull team swept to its third consecutive front-row lockout.

    The Australian will line up alongside pole position man Sebastian Vettel.

    Webber, who admitted he was surprised to be second on the grid having not been able to put a clean flying lap together in Q3, said afterwards that while the team has a dominant advantage in qualifying trim he expects that to be trimmed back in the race.

    “I think we are pretty good on Saturdays and we’ve shown that in the last few events now, and Sundays,” said Webber.

    “But tomorrow could be a good race, I think it’s going to be tighter between all of us, but I still think that we should have enough.”

    Webber made a mistake on his first flying lap, but that still proved to be good enough for second, while his next attempt was ruined when he got caught behind the two McLarens on his out-lap.

    The two teams had different approaches to tyre preparation on their out-laps and Webber found that he was not able to get enough heat into his Pirellis in order to have enough grip for the start of his second flying lap.

    “It wasn’t the smoothest session for me,” he said. “The lap wasn’t too bad, but I got on the Astroturf a bit on the last corner so for sure I didn’t have the cleanest run to the start finish line. That was disappointing, but I am driving car. I did my best, it was close.

    “It was obviously a pretty tight run thing between Seb and I didn’t get to do my last attempt.

    “Obviously the McLarens were doing very slow out-laps to get their tyres ready for the lap – which is different to us – and I had no grip in the first sector because of the build-up lap, so I didn’t get to do my second attempt which would have been nice. But anyway I was surprised to end up second and I will take that.”

  3. Fernando Alonso has spoken out post-qualifying that he fighting Adrian Newey’s RB8 rather than the drivers at Red Bull. has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso believes he is having to contend with the genius of Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey just as much as he is the brilliance of Sebastian Vettel.

    While Red Bull sealed its third straight front-row lockout in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix – at which Vettel is also chasing a fourth consecutive victory – Alonso could only manage fifth.

    Alonso reckons Red Bull’s recent run, during which time Vettel has turned a 42-point deficit to the Spaniard into a six-point lead, owes as much to Newey as it does to Vettel.

    “At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only,” Alonso said following qualifying. “We are also fighting against Newey let’s say – [the team] has finished first or second in the last four races.

    “It is not so easy to fight, especially on Saturday, but on Sunday we are normally more competitive.

    “Tomorrow we need to overtake McLaren as soon as possible and put pressure on Red Bull to wait for a little mistake, a pit stop problem, reliability or something.

    “If they [Red Bull] can start, go away and have an easy race, that’s the worst news for us.”

    Despite Alonso facing the prospect of surrendering yet more ground to Vettel in the 2012 title fight, he insisted he was not disheartened by his third row grid slot.

    “I think its our normal position behind Red Bull and McLaren,” he said.

    “Even if it looks disappointing I think its our normal position and at the end of the day we have to [make] it – Force India and Kimi were quite fast so you could end up 8th or 9th very quickly.

    “Fifth is our position and a good start position for tomorrow.”

    Team-mate Felipe Massa, who starts directly alongside Alonso in sixth, echoed the Spaniard’s thoughts.

    “I think so,” he replied when asked if sixth was fair. “Red Bull showed they are very strong, McLaren are a bit quicker than us and then we are there behind them.

    “I hope the car is stronger in the race than in qualifying so we can fight with guys in front.

    “I lost couple of tenths on my lap, but don’t think it would change a lot.”

  4. Mercedes’ decision not to run Nico Rosberg in Q3 qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix will open up strategic options for the German in tomorrow’s race.

    Rosberg will start 10th for the 60-lap grand prix, which is expected to hard on tyre wear, with some teams contemplating just one stop.

    And the Chinese Grand Prix winner hopes that by not setting a time in Q3, and therefore allowing him to start with a new set of tyres in Sunday’s race, it will give him an advantage over the cars higher up the grid.

    “In terms of our strategy for the race, it was better for us not to run in Q3 as it should give us a better pace tomorrow with fresh tyres,” Rosberg said. “Of course it’s not a nice feeling to be waiting in the pits and watching the others out there however.

    “It seems that the race will be tough on the tyres with very long stints, so I should have an advantage compared to the cars in front of me. I’ll be able to tell you tomorrow if it was the right decision but I’m reasonably happy today as we looked like we have made a small improvement here.”

    Team principal Ross Brawn was convinced that the team had opted for the correct strategy rather than trying to compete for a lower position in the top ten.

    “That was a qualifying session in which we had to balance the temptation to run to our ultimate pace and the realistic consideration of what the race will bring,” said Brawn. “After Q2, it was clear that seventh place was the maximum we could achieve with Nico, and his pace had been strongest on used tyres.

    “However, we preferred not to go into the race on a set of used soft tyres which had already completed up to ten laps, as this would limit our strategic options. With a view to tomorrow, we therefore decided not to run in Q3 which will give us the choice of a fresh set of either tyre for our opening stint.”

    Michael Schumacher was mystified as to why he was unable to match Rosberg’s pace in qualifying, dropping out in Q2 and lining up only 14th on the grid.

    “I cannot yet really explain why, particularly when I compare the times to what I did this morning,” he said. “In practice, we were able to run similar lap times with much more fuel in the car but, for whatever reason, we were unable to get the tyres into the right working window and generate enough grip this afternoon.”


  5. McLaren’s Jenson Button believes overnight set-up changes to his car has given him an opportunity to challenge Red Bull in the race. has the details.

    Jenson Button reckons the overnight changes which boosted McLaren in qualifying have also given the team a chance to fight Red Bull in the race.

    Both Button and Lewis Hamilton had struggled on the Friday of the Indian Grand Prix, particularly on low fuel runs.

    Large-scale changes overnight led to a jump in performance on Saturday however, with Hamilton and Button locking out the second row of the grid, both getting within four tenths of Sebastian Vettel’s pole time.

    Button believes that improvement could also be evident across a race distance.

    “The car was pretty yesterday, but we improved it a lot overnight,” Button explained.

    “Coming here it was very difficult to get the tyres into their operating window, but we have finally found a place which works for us, so we’re pretty happy.

    “We got it together today, and hopefully the improvements we made will work on high fuel as well as they have on low fuel.

    “We still need improvements in the race to really challenge the Red Bulls, but we can do a lot from [the second row].”

    Button added that he couldn’t realistically have hoped for more than the second row given the team’s Friday form, but admitted to a degree of disappointment about being slower in Q3 than he was in the second qualifying session.

    “I’m pretty happy with what we have done – it couldn’t have been much better,” he said.

    “We should be happy with what we have done today as a team – we’re not far off the Red Bulls and in front of the Ferraris.

    “Obviously you want to be higher when Q2 went so well, but I didn’t quite get it together in Q3. I’m still happy to be on second row though.

    “I’ve really struggled to get the tyres working on lap one, which is pretty normal to be fair, so I went for a different strategy to most, did a three-timed lap run which really worked for me Q2 but in Q3 just didn’t have quite as good a balance.

    “I guess the circuit gripped up, but we didn’t expect it that much.

    “It wasn’t quite the perfect lap, but I’m pretty happy to be fourth. We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position.”

  6. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado is convinced more was possible during qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix. has the news story.

    Pastor Maldonado reckons that Williams had the potential to be starting higher than ninth in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix.

    The Spanish Grand Prix winner, who was fastest of all in Q1 at the Buddh International Circuit, admitted that an error on his flying lap in Q3 cost him a chunk of time and positions.

    “I made a small mistake on the final corner of my final lap which lost me quite a lot of time so I don’t think ninth is reflective of our true pace today,” he said.

    “We were not as quick as we needed to be yesterday but we worked really hard to understand why and the car felt much better today.

    “We’re back challenging in Q3 so there are lots of positives we can take from today’s qualifying, and our race pace seems to be competitive so I’m optimistic about my chances tomorrow.”

    Team-mate Bruno Senna believes he should have been challenging in Q3 too, having been sixth fastest in final practice on Saturday morning.

    But the Brazilian also made a mistake on his best lap, which meant he ended up 13th and out of qualifying after Q2.

    “I made a mistake on my lap which is disappointing because I would have been in the top 10 if that hadn’t happened,” he said.

    “We showed good pace in this morning’s practice and in Q1 as well as a clear improvement over the last couple of races so things are going in the right direction.

    “We’ve been strong on our longer runs so hopefully I can make up some places tomorrow and get into the points.”

  7. Sergio Perez admits his qualifying pace came as a surprise after Sauber failed to break into the top 10 in any of the three practice sessions at the Buddh circuit.

    The Mexican claimed a share of the fourth row for Sunday’s race, lapping little over one second slower than Sebastian Vettel’s overall benchmark.

    That came despite missing first practice due to illnes and then managing a best of 12th fastest over the next two sessions.

    “Today’s result is a nice surprise and it was hard work to get there,” Perez admitted.

    “I am personally very happy with P8 and I am really pleased for the team.

    “It was a great effort from the guys to improve the car after Friday when we were struggling so much.

    “In Q2 I think I managed to get in a perfect lap. The one in Q3 wasn’t that good but still OK.

    “I am very motivated for tomorrow’s race and want to score as many points as possible.”

    As Perez flourished, team-mate Kamui Kobayashi floundered, winding up just 17th.

    The 26-year-old put the disparity between himself and Perez down to a basic set-up error which was compounded by a single-run fuel strategy.

    “It is a shame I ended up 17th in qualifying. Actually the pace of the car is better now than it was before, but in the end in Q2 it all went wrong,” Kobayashi explained.

    “I had decided to take fuel for only one lap and then we made a mistake with the car’s settings, which caused the brake balance to be completely wrong.

    “I then didn’t have a second chance because of the fuel, so I did my best time on a used set of soft tyres instead of making use of the fresh ones at the end.

    “However, tomorrow we have to make the most out of the tyres we still have available and the fact this circuit allows for overtaking.”


  8. On his first visit to the Buddh International Circuit, Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen had to learn the track and after qualifying in seventh position, the Iceman admits he expected more. has the details.

    Kimi Raikkonen admitted he was expecting a much better result in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix after finishing down in seventh position.

    The Finn, still with a mathematical chance of clinching the title this year, was unable to match the pace of his main rivals on Saturday, finishing nearly a full second off pole position man Sebastian Vettel.

    Lotus driver Raikkonen said his car simply had no grip during the grid-deciding session.

    “We changed the car after this morning’s session and we were quite confident heading into qualifying. Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to have any grip this afternoon so it was much more difficult than we thought,” said Raikkonen.

    “I’m quite disappointed to be starting from seventh as I thought we had a much better car than that.”

    Team-mate Romain Grosjean completed a disappointing day for the team, the Frenchman qualifying in 10th position.

    Grosjean too said he had been aiming for much more.

    “I was expecting better so I’m a little disappointed, however in terms of strategy P11 has one advantage as you’re the first car that can choose which tyres it will start the race on and I have a couple of new sets in my pocket for tomorrow,” he said.

    “I wish I could have got through into Q3 and lacking two hundredths of a second to make it there was frustrating.

    “On my second timed lap I was doing well, but for whatever reason the car snapped on me and I lost time. It was difficult to get everything right, but we’re looking strong to score some good points tomorrow.”

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