PISTOLS AT DAWN FOR ALONSO AND VETTEL FOLLOWING A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE VICTORY

29 Oct

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE AIRTEL INDIAN GRAND PRIX

THEY say Sebastian Vettel helped Herman Tilke design the new Buddh International Circuit in India, such was his form during the Grand Prix today. Practically mirroring the inaugural race Sebastian Vettel led the race from start to finish, with considerable ease, and no one could stop the German take a fourth consecutive victory, and another twenty five points. Despite this it did get nerve-racking near the end of the race for Vettel, as due to a mechanical problem his floor reguarly touched the floor sending sparks flying. You wouldn’t be considered a fool if you were put your money on the German to grasp the Drivers’ Championship trophy for a third time if today’s performance was anything to go by. However, one mustn’t rule out Fernando Alonso, who must have been feeling somewhat relieved following an improvement for his Ferrari car.

The Spaniard started in fifth, but superb driving in the opening laps of the race saw him take advantage of the dueling McLaren cars, gather up a slipstream boost and overtake both of them by the end of the first lap. Credit should be duly awarded to the Ferrari mechanics, who managed to set their seventh gear and rev limiters perfectly to ensure a competitive straight line pace, meaning that he was also able to overtake Mark Webber into second place not too much longer into the race. He received eighteen points in second place.

Sparks were flying in other places than Vettel’s car floor however, since Mark Webber bravely hung on to third place right until the end, despite a KERS fault that let Lewis Hamilton chase the Australian right till the end, but Webber was just lucky enough to fend off the McLaren to take the final podium position and fifteen points. Hamilton took twelve in fourth.

Jenson Button drove steadily, nursing his tyres, and demonstrated that the McLaren had something here in New Delhi as he managed to steal the fastest lap crown from Vettel on the sixtieth and final lap- a small consolation to Jenson, to accompany his ten points in fifth place, but it was still insufficient to challenge the Red Bulls; neither Brit could do it here, and one cannot help but feel all Championship hope has disappeared this year.

Felipe Massa did well to fend off Kimi Raikkönen in sixth place earning eight points, whilst still proving that he has the talent to manoeuvre a Ferrari car around the circuit and show off its potential today; Kimi earned seventh place and six points. Nico Hulkenberg did well for the home team in India (Force India) to overtake three cars in the opening lap, and then Perez, to take eighth place. He managed to hold on to four points despite an impressive challenge from Romain Grosjean, whose pace just wasn’t good enough to see him increase his points tally from two points. The final point was awarded to Bruno Senna, whose race pace surely overturned a disastrous qualifying performance from the Williams driver. Senna overtook Nico Rosberg to finish tenth under the hazy Indian sunlight today.

The dust was flying in the faces of the unlucky retiring drivers, though. Sergio Perez was the first victim, who suffered a puncture from a racing incident involving Daniel Ricciardo, and the ensuing suspension damage saw off the Mexican’s chances of challenging for the points, and he retired a lap later. Points were a distant dream for Pastor Maldonado, since an incident with Kamui Kobayashi caused him to spin off the track, pit unecessarily and finish in an unsatisfactory sixteenth.

I thought a brief mention for an HRT driver was worthwhile today, and Pedro De La Rosa crashed into a barrier on the back straight due to a brake failure that seems to be cropping up again and again for the (statistically) worst team on
the F1 grid. Still, it must take guts to drive an F1 car knowing that accidents are more common, especially concerning brakes.

But the final word goes to Sebastian Vettel and his dominant performance yet again. He seems to be the master of finding that special skill in the final races of the year, and as we shall find out it is becoming a two horse race to the ultimate prize this year, and should Fernando Alonso keep chasing the German down, it will almost certainly be pistols at dawn between the two musketeers of F1, and one single mistake could cost someone very dearly indeed.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Sebastian Vettel increased his lead by six points in the Drivers’ Championships. He now has 240 points, and Fernando Alonso has 227 points. It is safe to say it would take an utter disaster from both drivers in the final races of the season to see anyone but these two take first and second place, since their nearest challenger is Kimi Raikkönen, with 173 points, a whole 67 points adrift of the two leaders, and with 75 points left this year. Mark Webber overtook Lewis Hamilton into fourth place; the Australian is 2 points ahead with 167, compared with Hamilton’s 165 points. For either of these drivers to win the title, they need to win the next three grands prix, and ensure Vettel, Alonso and Raikkönen finish eleventh in Abu Dhabi, the USA and Brazil. Almost impossible. Jenson Button is now mathematically out of the race after falling to 99 points behind Vettel.

Nico Rosberg dangles by a thread in seventh place with 93 points, and Romain Grosjean is chasing him down with 90 points in eighth place; Massa has 89 points and is also featuring in the battle for seventh. There is also another battle for the Force India drivers- Nico Hulkenberg’s better performances lately means he his now five points ahead of Paul Di Resta in twelfth place with 49, ahead of Paul’s 44.

In the Constructors standings, Red Bull increase their lead to 407 points, a whole 91 points clear of Ferrari with 316 points. McLaren remain third with 306 points, followed by Lotus who remain fourth, but increase their haul to 263 points. No Sauber or Mercedes driver scored, meaning that there is still a fifth place battle between Mercedes in fifth with 136 points, and Sauber who need to close down their twenty point deficit; they remain sixth with 116. Force India are a comfortable seventh with 93 points; Williams’ solitary point sees their eighth place score increase to 59. Toro Rosso remain on 21 points. Marussia, Caterham and HRT respectively finish off the Constructors standings, though no one has scored.

I will be back next week as we look forward to the fourth running of the day-night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and where Alonso and Vettel will be looking to secure big finishes as they scrap for the crown that is the 2012 F1 Drivers’ Champion. It won’t be concluded here, but we look forward for an exciting fight nonetheless!

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