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GP Week : Issue 193
For months it has been a mathematical inevitability, but on sunday afternoon at India’s Buddh International Circuit it became a certainty – sebastian Vettel made history by securing his fourth consecutive world title, becoming the youngest driver in F1 history to have logged such an achievement. It was yet another commanding victory from the Red Bull racer, who failed to lead every lap of the Indian Grand Prix for the first time in the race’s history, thanks to an aggressive strategy that saw him start the race on the soft tyre before diving into the pits at the end of the second lap for a switch to Pirelli’s medium compound. Emerging from the pits in P17 Vettel then had to work his way back up the field, passing some drivers on track while also being bumped up the order as his rivals made their own stops for fresh rubber. The expectation was that the race would be a test of Red Bull’s split strategies, with teammate Mark Webber starting on the harder compound – a strategy the Australian thought would prove advantageous – but an alternator failure on the second RB9 made any direct comparisons impossible. One man who made a great success of going against the grain was Felipe Massa, who defied his engineers to start on the softer compound, a strategy that eventually reaped dividends for the Brazilian. But perhaps the most impressive performance of the afternoon came about courtesy of Romain Grosjean, who finished the race on the podium, one of two men to make a one-stop strategy work around the challenging Indian circuit. The Frenchman lined up 17th on the grid, shod in soft rubber. Grosjean took full advantage of his fast – fresh – tyres, working hiswayuptoP12bytheendoflap4.Bylap 7, he had passed Adrian Sutil for eighth, and one lap later Grosjean was running in sixth. On lap 14, after an impressively long stint on the softer compound, the Lotus racer dove into the pits for what would be his only stop of the afternoon, making the medium compound last beyond all expectation. More impressively still, in the closing stages of Sunday’s race Grosjean was setting purple sector times as teammate Kimi Raikkonen – who had been on a one-stop strategy until that point – started falling down the order in a manner reminiscent of the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. Joining Vettel and Grosjean on the podium was Nico Rosberg, who started and finished the race in second place. But the Mercedes driver didn’t have the easiest of afternoons, having been passed on the first lap by a rocketing Massa and dropping down to third. At the end of lap 7 Rosberg pitted for medium tyres, dropping out of the points in the process. But as the first round of stops began in earnest, he was elevated back up the order, running in seventh until his second and final stop – also for mediums – on lap 27. From that moment onwards it was simply a matter of managing his rubber as he worked his way back up through the pack and into his original starting position, inheriting third place when Adrian Sutil made his only stop of the race on lap 41. On lap 51 Rosberg took advantage of Raikkonen’s fading rubber, and reclaimed the second place that had been his starting position. Four laps later and the vulnerable Finn was under attack from his own teammate; the pair touched briefly but Grosjean kept a cool head and hung back, reprising the attack on the following lap. Massa followed suit, and Raikkonen was then passed by both Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez before making a late second stop on lap 58. As a small consolation, Raikkonen pitted for fresh rubber then snatched the fastest lap from Vettel when the race winner was already celebrating his victory and fourth successive title. 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> INDIA