The Second ever F1 Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Noida was, if anything, far more important than its previous edition in terms of the Drivers Championship. And it showed. A far cry from the relatively incident-free, anxious race in 2011, the 2012 Indian GP provided plenty of fodder for the local F1 fans- who came from far and wide to be part of this annual pilgrimage. In the end, it’d be fair to say that they got their money’s worth.
Yes, the winner remained the same– Vettel storming to another pole-to-flag victory, his 4th in a row, and his second Indian GP win. But what transpired behind him through the race was the stuff testosterone-filled dreams are made of.
Vettel started from Webber, who started ahead of the two McLarens of Hamilton and Button, after which Alonso and Massa started. The first corner was devoid of any major incident or crash, but the move of the season happened down the straight following the turn. Fernando Alonso, in 5th, and desperate to cut down Vettel’s lead at the top, knew that he had to first get ahead of the McLarens in order to provide a glimpse of hope to his not-so-fast team. Down the straight, he did just that- in a breathtaking move, where he shotgunned himself past not one but TWO McLarens, who didn’t know what hit them.
Hamilton quickly took his position back, and Button was the biggest loser in the bargain. Alonso had ruffled their feathers quickly, and it was only a matter of time before he took Hamilton too. For a majority of the 60 laps, Alonso lay in the slipstream behind Webber- always not close enough, and always losing speed down the straight to the superior Red Bull engines. Vettel was never going to be catchable, and barring a disaster (his name is Roman Grosjean, and he was too far behind to touch Vettel), the Indian GP was always going to be his to lose. He never lost it, and went on to become only the second driver after the late Senna to lead every lap of the last 3 races. This was his 4th consecutive win, which puts him 13 points ahead of the battling Alonso. The Spaniard should be proud of the way he put himself out there today, pushing for a little bit more every lap- and positioning himself perfectly behind the ailing Webber (with a defunct KERS), and taking full advantage of the malfunction. A scintillating bit of overtaking sent the Buddh crowd into raptures, with Alonso providing the most exciting moments of the race- despite not holding a fastest lap for 45 laps into the contest.
Soon, Alonso was to be the only driver in the top 7 to make up positions- as he needed to, in order to remain in contention for the last 3 races. 13 points is still not much of a gap, and the law of averages may yet catch up with the young German- who has been near untouchable in his last 4 races. Red Bull are running away with the Constructors title once again, and it is upto Ferrari (and Massa) to salvage any sort of pride here, by supporting their number 1 and get him that elusive 3rd Championship.
At the back of the order, Schumacher drove yet another disaster-on-wheels, and even Lady Luck seems to have deserted the old legend. ‘How the mighty have fallen’, said his once-most-vocal fan Steve Slater, as he failed to slow down at the sight of blue flags on the circuit. Raikkonen drove within himself again, and came another consistent 7th- keeping him just ahead of the duo of Webber and Hamilton in the standings, though one doesn’t know how long he can last with a middling car like Lotus.
After yet another star-studded and successful Indian GP, a race that has truly become the quickest and smoothest on the F1 calendar, we move to Abu Dhabi- for the third last race of the season.
Whatever happens there will have a great effect on the first-ever Austin (USA) Grand Prix, followed by the ever-electric last race of the season- the Brazilian Grand Prix.