Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing-Renault dominated the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.
The German secured his 11th win of the season from pole position, with fastest lap sealing an ideal result.
The lights-to-flag win means Vettel now surpasses another record; the most laps led in one season, a record that has been held by fellow Renault-engined driver Nigel Mansell since 1992. Mark Webber finished in fourth position behind Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
Lotus Renault GP demonstrated a pace over the weekend that the race results did not ultimately reflect, with Vitaly Petrov finishing outside the points in 11th and Bruno Senna 12th.
Team Lotus put in its best-ever race performance, with Heikki Kovalainen matching the pace of the Force Indias, Saubers and Renaults to pass the flag in 14th. Jarno Trulli’s race was compromised following first lap contact with an HRT, which caused a puncture and damaged his floor. He finished in 19th.
Key race weekend points:
Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel secured the trio of pole, win and fastest lap round the 5.137km track on the outskirts of Delhi. Vettel eased out a five second lead over Button and Alonso in the opening stages and never lost the lead. Mark Webber started from second on the grid but was passed by Button into the fourth corner. The Australian was then overtaken by Alonso on his final pit stop and despite a sustained challenge in the final laps finished just over a second from the Ferrari driver.
Lotus Renault GP
A difficult qualifying saw Bruno Senna start in 14th and Vitaly Petrov in 16th following the application of his five place grid penalty from Korea. A flying start from Senna put him up into the top ten but a loss of KERS in the first five laps allowed the two Toro Rossos to pass. The Brazilian regained P9 with a pace that matched the front runners, but a late stop to make the mandatory switch to the option tyre dropped him back down to 12th. Starting from the lower part of the grid meant that Vitaly Petrov was affected by the first lap melee and fell back to almost the rear of the field. He pushed hard to regain track position and was finally only a couple of seconds from scoring points.
Heikki Kovalainen demonstrated a strong midfield pace to come home in 14th position. In the early stage of the race the Finn was up to 10th and matching the pace of the field in front. As the fuel level dropped he equalled Senna’s speed in the LRGP, but was forced to maintain position once the blue flags came out for the leaders. Trulli’s race was compromised on lap one when an HRT rear-ended him, which damaged the rear floor and caused a puncture. After the stop he was back to the rear of the field and finished in P19 after 60 hard laps of racing.
Rémi Taffin, head of Renaultsport F1 track operations, gives his views on the race weekend:
Congratulations to the Buddh International Circuit and organisers for a fantastic inaugural Indian Grand Prix. The track layout presents a challenge for drivers and engineers alike, with long straights demanding good top end power and the cambered turns giving several overtaking opportunities that need driveability and responsiveness from the car and engine.
We saw a lot of manoeuvres and battles here and in what ultimately proved to a race of high attrition, we can be pleased that all our partners took the chequered flag. Congratulations to Sebastian on a dominant win; he was never headed and shows that even though both titles are won he’s not lifting off, which very much fits in with our own mentality at Viry.
We’d also like to offer congratulations to Team Lotus for another great race. It was a real shame for Jarno in that his race was compromised on the first lap, but Heikki’s pace was outstanding – matching the midfield on all his stints. The partnership keeps getting stronger and stronger as we understand what the chassis team needs and all the signs are that next year will build on this.
Lotus Renault GP has been quick at times over the weekend, but a qualifying blip again made it difficult to finish in the points. We’ll go through everything with them next week to help put in an entire weekend’s performance and finish the season strongly.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 374 points
2. Jenson Button (McLaren) 240 points
3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 227 points
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 221 points
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 202 points
9. Vitaly Petrov (LRGP) 36 points
18. Bruno Senna (LRGP) 2 points
21. Jarno Trulli (Team Lotus) 0 points
22. Heikki Kovalainen (Team Lotus) 0 points
1. Red Bull Racing 595
2. McLaren 442
3. Ferrari 325
5. LRGP 72
10. Team Lotus 0
Renault statistics in F1:
141 wins, 192 poles