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Indian Grand Prix Live: Vettel wins fourth consecutive GP

The driver's standings

A handy second place from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso keeps him just 13 points from Vettel. The championship is still alive... it still is. Vettel's win also gives Renault their 150th Grand Prix victory as an engine supplier and for some strange reason, Renault cars don't sell in India!

By the way, the fastest lap of the race went to McLaren's Button. It shows the McLaren had the pace but the Red Bulls had the better overall package.

Lap 60

Vettel had a brilliantly-paced race and led from start to finish. Alonso had a gutsy race and got past the McLaren's early in the race. But the really battle was for third place. Webber's KERS wasn't working but he somehow managed to hold off Hamilton. Super driving and a good action-packed race.

99 Grand Prix starts, 26 wins... Vettle has such a super record. The top three are Vettel, Alonso & Webber.

And Vettel goes: "Thank you boys, thank you... each and every one of you."

Race:
Top 10: VET, ALO, WEB, HAM, BUT, MAS, RAI, HUL, GRO, SEN
11-22: ROS, DIR, RIC, KOB, VER, MAL, PET, KOV, PIC, GLO, KAR, MSC
DNF: DLR, PER

Lap 57

The message that's going out to Hamilton from the pit wall is that Webber's Red Bull can be caught. This is going to be a few crazy last few laps.

Lap 53

Lead between Vettel and Alonso is down to 9.8 seconds. Some images of some sparks flying off the bottom of Vettel's car, will we have another twist?

Lap 50

Ten laps to go, 11.3 seconds to gain, can Vettel keep Alonso at bay? We just hope this goes as close as possible. As things stands, Vettel will move 13 points ahead of Alonso.

Hamilton is catching Webber quickly, now just 2.6 behind. Remember KERS isn't working for Webber's car.

Top 10 with 10 laps to go: VET, ALO, WEB, HAM, BUT, MAS, RAI, HUL, GRO, ROS

Lap 48

Super stuff. Alonso has moved ahead of Webber on the start finish straight. Alonso used DRS and KERS, the latter of which is not working for Webber. Now it's between Alonso and Vettel.

Lap 47

Ooooh difference between Webber and Alonso is down to 1 second. The Ferrari has been gaining time on the Red Bull on each of the last 4 laps.

Lap 46

Pedro de la Rosa has just crashed out. It seems like his brake gave way. Meanwhile, Schumacher's blue flag incident will be investigated after the race.

Lap 43

The gap between Vettel and Webber has dropped down to less than 11 seconds. Hmm...

Lap 40

Vettel's away but the real battle is for second place. Webber and Alonso are going at each other like two veteran boxers. This is great stuff. But everytime Alonso gets close, Webber pumps out another fastest lap. Vettel, on the other hand, has dropped his pace a little, maybe he's thinking about his tyres now.

And further back, Hamilton is getting closer to Alonso too. Lewis is 0.6s faster than ALO on the last lap. The gap is down to 6.5s.

Lap 38

Now Schumacher is under investigation for ignoring blue flags. Those are the flags for the slow cars not moving aside for the leaders. This really doesn't get much worse for a seven-time world champion.

Lap 37

Top ten on lap 37: VET, WEB, ALO, HAM, GRO, BUT, MAS, RAI, HUL, ROS.

Lap 35

And Vettel just needs to be the fastest. Webber goes quick, Vettel goes quicker. A 1:30.279 from the Red Bull is the quickest lap of the race, he really is burning a new trail.

Lap 35

Webber has just done the fastest lap of the race with a 1:30.417 and he looks like he is back on pace now. For neutral observers though, it would be great to see Alonso ahead... lets make it a head-to-head battle between Vettel and Alonso please.

Lap 35

Meanwhile, Schumacher has passed Narain for 22nd place. He's moving up and Karthikeyan is dead last now.

Lap 33

Alonso seems to be catching up to Webber, who seems to be struggling with his new tyres. Just 0.8 seconds between the two. Hamilton, meanwhile, dropping in for a quick pit stop. He also managed to get a steering wheel change.

Lap 30

At the half-way mark, Vettel still leads comfortably. He is almost 32 second ahead of Alonso, who just had a pit stop. Hamilton has moved into third place.

Lap 28

Raikonnen into the pits along with Karthikeyan. It took Kimi 3.4 seconds but that's going to drop him into the 9th position. He is onto the prime tyres.

Lap 25

Is this as boring as the Schumacher years? Once Vettel is in the lead, there is no catching him. Jenson Button has a quick 3.6 second pit stop to change the tyres, he was complaining about grip.

Lap 23

The gap between Vettel and Alonso is up to almost 10 seconds now. But the real battle is now between Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikonnen for the sixth place. It's great stuff. Wheel-to-wheel.

Lap 22

Seems like Perez's race is over. He has pulled into the paddock. Sauber might get him back on for a glorified test session.

Lap 21

A puncture for Perez. Awful race for him. He looked like he was making a great move on Ricciardo but then goes way out wide, locks up and slams his brakes too late. and then he got a puncture. Ricciardo's front wing hits his back tyre. Bad luck.

Lap 19

Vettel is comfortably in charge and more importantly 8.9 seconds ahead of Alonso in third place. It may all come down to car reliability and the pit stops. Hard to see anything else stopping Vettel.

Lap 16

All of Vettel's first 10 laps were in 1:32 bracket. Then suddenly he upped the pace by avg 0.4 per lap. Red Bull in total control here, says @virtualstatman on twitter. Alonso needs to bring something really special out of the bag to compete here.

Lap 15

There is only one driver behind Narain Karthikeyan and that's Schumacher. The Mercedes driver didn't have the best start and had to go into the pits for a tyre change after a puncture on the first lap itself.

Lap 14

Webber sets the fastest lap but there is a 3.6 second gap between him and Vettel. But further back, Hulkenberg has moved into 8th place -- some cheer for the home team and Mallya.

Lap 13

Force India's Hulkenberg has moved into ninth place and is pushing Perez, who is in 8th place pretty hard. It only seems to be a matter of time before he moves into 8th place.

Lap 11

Vettel has the fastest lap at this early stage and the only cars close on pace are Webber and Alonso. This is going to be a tight race.

1-10 Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Massa, Raikkonen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo

Lap 7

Vettel continues to lead and for the moment, he seems untouchable. He has lead in every session of the Indian GP so far -- that's how good he has been.

Nico Rosberg, down in 10th, is staying ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean and and Paul Di Resta. Further down the field, home favourite Narain Karthikeyan, in 22nd, is warned over his radio about his brakes.

Narain Karthikeyan's race engineer over team radio: "We need to cool down the brakes, cool down the brakes."

Lap 5

The Top 10 order is VET, WEB, ALO, BUT, HAM, MAS, RAI, PER, HUL ROS. It's been brilliant wheel-to-wheel racing. Alonso moved up another place in third, just behind the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber. Alonso used the DRS to great effect to just zoom past Button.

Lap 4

The Red Bulls are pulling away but Alonso has had a great start a lot will now depend on tyre and pit-stop strategy. Vettel has pulled away Webber -- they are split by 1.6 seconds.

Vettel stays in front!

Mark Webber straight on the attack but Sebastian Vettel keeps his place at the front. Alonso attacked the McLarens and managed to move into fourth place but Schmacher had a rear tyre puncture.

Tyre warmers coming off

The excitement is almost palpable.The brake lights are flashing. And the warm-up lap is on. Only Schumacher, Kobayashi, Ricciardo and Grosjean on the prime tyre.

Welcome to round 17 of the 2012 F1 season

We are just a few minutes away from the start of the Grand Prix. This is one of the fastest circuits -- three high speed straights and then a few very technical sections. This should be fun and it will place a huge demand on the drivers and on the cars as well.

Time for the national anthem!

Everyone in attendance at the Buddh Intl Circuit is on their feet and standing at attention for India's national anthem. And just before that Narain manages to tweet too!

Indian GP in brief
Distance: 60 laps, 307.249km; 1 lap: 5.125km.
On Pole: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.
2011 winner: Red Bull's Vettel

Great Noida weather update: 27°C;
Wind: W at 6 km/h
Humidity: 34%

Ferrari hope McLaren have a good race

Alonso cannot see Vettel get away to a good start and that is why he will be hoping that Hamilton and McLaren have a good start as well. That will help Ferrari's cause and allow Alonso to get back into the title race.

The grid

Here is the grid for today's Indian Grand Prix:

1) Vettel 2) Webber (Two Red Bulls)

3) Hamilton 4) Button (Two McLarens)

5) Alonso 6) Massa (Two Ferraris)

7) Raikkonen 8) Perez

9) Maldonado 10) Rosberg

30 minutes to go

Just around 30 mins to go for the start of the second Indian GP. The drivers are going around the track as part of the parade in a open truck.

Drivers' Standings

1) Vettel 215pts, 2) Alonso 209, 3) Raikkonen 167, 4) Hamilton 153, 5) Webber 152

But the race is almost over for everyone other than Vettel and Alonso. The title is almost certainly going to be decided between them.

Grand Stand slowing filling up

The buzz is missing but people continue to troop into the Buddh International Circuit. The race begins at 1500 hrs IST.

History beckons

If Sebastian Vettel wins today he will become the first driver to win four successive races in a season since Jenson Button did in 2009.

Finishing ahead of Red Bull is our aim

Fernando Alonso on Ferrari's qualifying session.

“We tried to get the most out of what we had, but there was no way we could be ahead of the Red Bulls and McLarens. In the end, fifth place is not so bad, because it would have been easy to end up even further back if anything had gone wrong. Clearly, finishing ahead of Red Bull is our aim, but today it was impossible to fight them, at least in qualifying: when we had a similar car, it was possible to fight with Vettel and we have even been ahead of them, but now we are fighting against Newey and, at the moment we cannot match him. We brought some updates here which have worked as we expected, but the others have also improved over these past two weeks: it’s down to us to bring something more significant for the final three races. I am not concerned nor demotivated, because I know that things can change very quickly and that high spirits on Saturday can easily turn to sadness on Sunday. We must try and make up places on the first lap and try to put pressure on our main rivals, ensuring they don’t have an easy race. There are sixty laps to work with and we will need to tackle each one as if it’s qualifying, by attacking. Clearly I hope I can soon have a more competitive car to try and fight them on equal terms on Saturday and not just on Sunday. I definitely am not the sort to give up and that’s my real advantage.”

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone autographs a book on the history of formula one. AP

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone autographs a book on the history of formula one. AP

The script for the day?

Sebastian Vettel on Red Bull’s script if he should make a better start than Webber.

The script will be written tomorrow after the light switches to green. That is the good thing about us - there is no script. It doesn’t make sense to think too much about any scenario, as in real life it usually is never how you think it will be. So I am not wasting any time on thinking strategically with these things. I will try to make sure that I will have a good start, and what the others do is out of my control anyway. This race is also quite long and we have seen that the tyre degradation with our competitors and with us is not as big as expected, so it will be a very tight race tomorrow.

The driver's parade

The drivers are currently going round a hazy Buddh International Circuit in the drivers' parade. Around 65,000 people are expected to attend this year's race.

https://twitter.com/IndianGPF1/status/262475212396838912/photo/1

Small crowds? No problem

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone isn't worried and said it is the general trend for new Grand Prix to struggle in their second year.

"It happens everywhere. The first year, there are a lot of people; in the second year there is a dip and then it picks up. When you talk about some the other circuits, England for example, in Silverstone we have massive crowds of 1,20,000 despite fact that the British GP has been going on for 100 years. This will build up," Ecclestone said on Saturday.

Teams told us to make F1 more exciting: Pirelli

In an exlcusive interview, Paul Hembery, Pirelli (Tyres) Motorsport Director opens up on all things Formula One.

It becomes a little risky involved in a sport like this. You want people to talk about your tyres, so you try to make things interesting. Then drivers and teams look to win, and it’s usually the cars or their skills that help them in. But if something bad happens, they don’t qualify or win, then it’s the tyres’ fault. But we are ready to accept that bad publicity as well (laughs). Atleast they are talking about Pirelli. So it is an unforgiving environment. I recall someone asked me once, why would anyone want to be a motorsport tyre-supplier?

Read the full interview here

What makes Vettel so good?

The youthful German driver is aiming to win his fourth race in a row at the Indian Grand Prix. And the others have simply been able to sit back and watch. He has made no mistakes and his rivals have erred at crucial junctures. He gets the best out of the best car but that's easier said than done.

Interactive circuit guide

Listen to Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen talk you round India's Buddh circuit. Hover your mouse over each turn to find out what speed and in what gear the drivers take the corners. Check it out on the Guardian website.

Why Ferrari are struggling

Ferrari Formula One driver Massa. Reuters

Ferrari Formula One driver Massa. Reuters

Gary Anderson on the BBC website tries to get to the bottom of the problem...

Ferrari have spent the last few races watching helplessly as a once-commanding championship lead for their driver Fernando Alonso has been turned into a narrow deficit by the revived steamroller that is Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel.

Where Red Bull have significantly improved their car, Ferrari have effectively stood still, and they have been quite open about the fact that they are struggling to introduce new aerodynamic developments.

Read the full piece here.

Gagan Narang to flag off Indian Grand Prix
London Olympics bronze medal winning shooter Gagan Narang will flag off the second Formula One Indian Grand Prix here today. Narang, who clinched a bronze in the 10m air rifle event, confirmed his attendance last night. "Sports Minister Ajay Maken was our first choice to flag off the race but we were not aware of today's cabinet reshuffle," said an official of the Jaypee Group, the organisers of the event. Earlier, there was speculation that actor Hrithik Roshan had been finalised to flag off the race at the Buddh International Circuit here. - PTI

Gagan Narang will flag off the Indian GP. AFP

Gagan Narang will flag off the Indian GP. AFP

Not taking things for granted
"Today (Saturday) is a good result for us, but tomorrow is the main exercise. The McLarens were very quick on long runs and the Ferrari strategy could be a surprise, so we will see what happens," he said after the Qualifying session. "We have to focus on the start tomorrow and focus on ourselves. What the others are doing we cannot influence," he said.

Vettel on pole again!
Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel roared to pole position at the Indian Grand Prix on Saturday as Red Bull flexed their muscles with a third successive one-two sweep in qualifying. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vettel’s closest challenger and six points behind the 25-year-old German with four races remaining including Sunday’s, starts fifth at the Buddh International Circuit. “All in all it was a great weekend so far. No problems with the car. The boys have been pushing extremely hard,” grinned Vettel, his title momentum seemingly unstoppable, after beating Webber by 0.044 seconds.

Read the full report here