Tuesday 12 November 2019

F1: Dominant Vettel cruises to fourth straight victory

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds his trophy as he celebrates on the podium after winning the Indian Formula One Grand Prix. Photo: AP
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds his trophy as he celebrates on the podium after winning the Indian Formula One Grand Prix. Photo: AP

David Tremayne

Sebastian Vettel was overtaken by Fernando Alonso in the Indian Grand Prix -- and it was a decisive move.

The problem was it happened as the pair headed for the grid with the Spaniard indulging in a little one-upmanship as he shoved ahead and then made Vettel wait while his mechanics rushed to push his car into its position.

That, however, was the only way Alonso could pass the man who took his World Championship lead away in South Korea and widened the gap to 13 points as he dominated the field for a fourth straight win here in Delhi.

The last driver to lead every lap for three successive races was Ayrton Senna in 1989. And the way that Vettel ran away with this race, you wouldn't bet your house against him matching the Brazilian's tally of three world titles before the 2012 season is over.

For all that some sought to talk a dull race up, its story was simple. Vettel was never remotely challenged and won even more easily than he did here a year ago.

He shrugged off a challenge from his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in the run to the first corner and then won as he pleased. Not even a sparking floor late in the race could faze him. "I noticed it when I opened up to lap Timo Glock's Marussia," Vettel said, "but it wasn't really a problem. I didn't feel anything with the balance. I saw Timo backing off in my mirror when he saw the sparks, but it didn't cost us anything or slow us down."

Nothing, it seemed, could do that. Alonso battled with the McLarens straight away, passing both, being re-passed, then managing to make a move on Lewis Hamilton as Jenson Button resolutely maintained third.

"They were fighting themselves and they forgot that I was there in turn four. I was lucky to exit that without any damage and I was able to pass one of them."

He got the other one, Button, on the fourth lap, and then began his battle to catch Webber.

With a faulty KERS unit, the Australian was really hurting down the kilometre-long main straight, where the Ferrari had a high top speed, but the Red Bull's superior grip kept it ahead until the 48th lap when a great lunge took the Spaniard into second place.

On the harder-compound Pirelli tyre, the Ferrari had similar pace to Vettel's Red Bull, but that was already 12 seconds up the road.

Alonso succeeded in whittling that down to 9.5 seconds, made a small mistake, lost a second, then clawed it back. But by the flag he was still behind his unstoppable nemesis.

(© Independent News Service)

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