Vettel all the way in India
Mark Webber was third in the second Red Bull with the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button rounding out the top-5.
Felipe Massa was sixth in the second Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen chasing him for most of the race and ending up seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth, ahead of Romain Grosjean. Senna claimed the final point of the day in 10th position.
There was some question as to whether Vettel's car will pass post-race inspection because his front skid block was seen dragging on the track surface under braking and there is some question as to whether it wore down more than 1mm, the maximum allowed.
Ferrari's Alonso needs to claw back 5 points on average at each of the remaining races in Abu Dhabi, Austin and Brazil, moving India GP podium interviewer Martin Brundle to ask Vettel if he can feel "one hand on the trophy" now.
The smiling German, of course, trotted out the customary line about taking one step at a time, but did admit: "This was another good step for us."
Spaniard Alonso drove an impressive race to split the Red Bulls on the podium, and said: "It's not easy to fight Red Bull but we will never give up.
"We want to be happy in Brazil, not here. I am sure we will do it."
It is obvious there are some psychological games being played now; the latest episode is Alonso's repeated characterization of his title battle as a fight with Adrian Newey, not Vettel.
"All of us are working hand in hand," Vettel insisted on the podium, "whether here on the track or in Milton Keynes."
Vettel and Red Bull's designer Newey, meanwhile, rubbished the latest speculation about their futures at Ferrari.
"Yes, I can deny," the double world champion told the British broadcaster Sky, when asked if he has a Ferrari deal lined up for 2014.
"I don't have any agreement or obligation."
When also asked about a job at Ferrari, Newey added beneath the Buddh podium late on Sunday: "I think that window has been and gone."
Vettel dismissed the apparent problem with his Red Bull's underside during the closing stages of the race.
"I noticed the problem, I think it was when I got DRS from a backmarker pretty close to the end of the race," he said.
"I didn't feel anything with the balance and on the other laps.
"We need to analyze the problem, but it didn't cost us or slow us down."
The world champion led throughout the race, and said it had been crucial to get away at the start on a day when Alonso's Ferrari in particular appeared close to Red Bull's pace.
"I enjoyed the race a lot," said Vettel. "It was crucial to open a gap in the first stint, to break DRS to Mark Webber.
"It was quite close at Turn 1, I was able to get good exit out of Turn 3, then was able to open the gap, not just to Mark but also the cars behind."
The result extends Vettel's championship lead to 13 points with three rounds to go. Despite his current dominant form, he insisted he was not yet allowing himself to consider a third world title guaranteed.
"To think of the championship, this was a good step for us," he acknowledged.
"We have seen for us how quickly things can change. This feels so fantastic and it is great to have a race come the way you want it to. I am proud and happy and enjoying it.
"That was today and we are focusing on Abu Dhabi next week. There is a lot more to come and we take things step by step."
Sebastian Vettel (1st): "All in all, it was a very good race for us and I'm happy with the result. I had a good start, Mark had a better one and it was close in Turn 1, but I had a good exit from Turn 3 and got ahead. I was able to open a gap, which was important. I felt very good on the soft treys and was competitive, I could have stayed out even longer I think, but at some stage you have to cover. McLaren and Ferrari were quick on the hard tire today, so it was important to have a gap to them. I saw some sparks at the end from the car, but we saw a lot of cars throwing sparks this weekend, and we joined them. It was a great day for us and an important step."
Mark Webber (3rd): "We had a KERS issue that we had to manage. It's maybe hard for people watching to know what it affects on the car, its power on the straight obviously, but also managing brake balances and those sort of things. The guys were trying to help me get the KERS to recover and were talking with me on the radio. In addition, when you have a one-stop race, it's always a chance you have a front-right lock up. As the fronts are very important you need to look after them which can affect the rhythm a little bit, but I tried to stay as cool as possible. Overall, I was pretty happy with how I drove; we should have finished further up the road, but it's the way it was today."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A fantastic performance by both drivers today. Sebastian drove an immaculate race and really controlled the race from start to finish, leading every single lap. Mark initially settled into what looked like a comfortable second, before we started to experience problems with the KERS around lap 20. We had to turn the system off initially then reinstate it in a reduced state of power, which unfortunately allowed Fernando get close enough after the stop. We saw the DRS was particularly powerful here. Mark drove incredibly well to keep Hamilton behind him for the remaining laps. We finished three points off a maximum score in the Constructors' Championship, which consolidates our lead, while Sebastian pulled out a further seven points on Fernando in the Drivers'. With three races to go, we still need to take every race one at a time, but it's fantastic to win for a second time in India and it's remarkable for Sebastian to have won four races in succession. He's led every single lap of the Indian GP since it started in 2011."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "Again, an incredible race today and it was a good showing from both drivers. It was a shame that Mark had a KERS issue during the race as we could have maybe got a one-two again this weekend. Renault has something to celebrate again today, as we got our 150th win after achieving our 200th pole at the last race. I would like to congratulate everyone from Renault and Viry-Châtillon of course and from Mecachrome, as from nearly 500 races we have won 150, which is a strong rate. A big thank you and congratulations to everyone involved."
Lewis Hamilton (4th): "I don't yet understand why I got such a poor start – it lost me ground and then I fell under attack from the guys behind. During the first lap, I was primarily focusing on not colliding with Jenson, then I saw Fernando [Alonso] in my right mirror. He was towing me from very far back. Even if I'd had a better start than I did, the guys in front were still maybe a bit too fast, particularly in the first stint. During that first stint I started having a downshift problem – I was having to change down with my right hand instead of my left, so the team elected to change the steering wheel at the pitstop. I've never had to change a steering wheel during a race before. We've done it in Barcelona testing before, but never in a race. Even so, the guys did it fantastically quickly, under immense pressure, so I want to say 'well done!' to them all. I took the wheel off before I'd even stopped the car, and threw it out of the car. The team then fitted a new one, I clicked it into first gear, and I was away – all in just a bit over three seconds flat. I tried to chase down Mark [Webber] in the closing laps, but by then it was too late and he was going too quickly for me to be able to mount a serious challenge. But I never give up, and, right until the very last corner, I thought I might just be able to catch him, but in the end it wasn't to be. Still, I loved it out there today – I can't remember the last time I've pushed so far, so hard, for so long, right on the limit – it felt great. It felt fantastic, in fact, to be in the middle of such a battle. I'm so proud of all the guys in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, too – it was a really great race."
Jenson Button (5th): "The start of the race was my highlight – there were just millimeters between Lewis, Fernando and me. I've never had a start quite like that before – unbelievably hard-fought – and none of us hit each other. It was so close, so tight, yet so clean. It's just a pity that the rest of the race wasn't as enjoyable! My first stint was pretty disappointing; I think maybe we struggled more on the Options [tires] than the other runners did, so I couldn't keep the guys behind me. I then made my pitstop earlier than anticipated, so that we could find a better balance on the harder tire, but that didn't work out because I got stuck behind Romain [Grosjean], which lost me more time. But getting fastest lap on the final lap was great, and I think there's plenty of potential that we can build on and take with us to Abu Dhabi next weekend."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "We scored 22 world championship points here today, but we'd hoped to score quite a few more than that. We found it difficult to coax sufficient pace out of the Options, but our car was the fastest in the field on the Primes. The trouble was, by the time we were running on Primes, the gap to the cars ahead was a bit too large. Even so, Lewis pushed as hard as he possibly could in the closing stages, carving chunks out of the gap between him and Mark ahead, and, if the race had been just a few laps longer, I'm certain he'd have fancied his chances of getting past. Jenson, too, drove superbly, in difficult conditions, losing quite a bit of time while stuck behind Romain, but he made as rapid progress as Lewis did once he'd got onto Primes. Indeed, he drove the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap. It was McLaren's 150th fastest lap in world championship grand prix racing, incidentally. Finally, here's another stat for the train-spotters out there: today, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes tied Ferrari's all-time record of 55 consecutive world championship grands prix in the points. We started that run in Australia in 2010, which race Jenson won for us of course; indeed, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has scored points in every single grand prix since Jenson joined our team. In Abu Dhabi, in a week's time, we'll be seeking to establish a new benchmark: 56 consecutive world championship grands prix in the points. In fact, of course, we'll be aiming to do a bit more than that: there are three grands prix still to run this season, and you can be well sure that everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be doing his or her level best to win as many of them as we possibly can."
Fernando Alonso (2nd):
Felipe Massa (6th):
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
Nico Rosberg (11th): "Finishing just outside of the points is always tough, and it was a hard afternoon for us out there. Starting with new tires, I hoped to be able to make up a couple of places but we just didn't have the pace so I had to keep fighting off the cars coming from behind me. It's a difficult time for us but we are learning for next year so that's one positive thing. "
Michael Schumacher (22nd): "That was a pretty unsatisfactory race today. It was effectively over just after the start; I lost so much time getting back to the pits with the puncture that any hope of scoring points was gone. In the meantime, the pace was pretty good but I was too far behind to make up more than a few positions. In the end, we had to retire the car for technical reasons."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We are racing in a closely-matched field this season, where a few tenths of a second in lap time make a significant difference to your position. At the moment, we are on the wrong end of those precious tenths and that once again left us outside the points this afternoon. Nico made his one-stop strategy work well, looking after his tires so that he still had reasonable speed at the end of both stints, but otherwise he had a relatively quiet race. As for Michael, the contact at the first corner made it an uphill battle for him from turn two onwards, and left him at the back of the field. However, by running two stints on the option tire, he was able to show respectable speed at some points of the race. We brought his car in before the end of the race as a precaution after we became aware of some gearbox concerns."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Michael suffered contact on the opening lap, which caused a puncture and put him to the back of the field after his pit stop. He retired the car with a gearbox issue five laps before the finish. As for Nico, his car didn't have the speed to score points after starting from 10th position. We have a lot of work to do and everybody in the team is well aware of it."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th): "I had a very good car today but I just couldn't do anything with it as I was not able to pass on the straight. It was quite disappointing but that's how it goes. We put ourselves in that position yesterday with the set-up we chose for qualifying and we paid the price today. We had the speed but not in the right place and when you are behind someone there's not much you can do. Hopefully in the next race we can be a bit more smart and use our race speed to take some more Championship points."
Romain Grosjean (9th): "Finishing 9th after starting from 12th is good but we could have done even better. That said, I think it was a very good race from myself, my engineers, and the crew during the pit stops. We did everything we could; everybody was working at 100% but today we were lacking some speed in a straight line which makes it impossible to overtake. I pushed on every lap - it was like 90 minutes of qualifying - and gave everything to get the best performance from the car, so I'm very happy."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "Like every race, qualifying is obviously the key to get good points so yesterday's performance defined our race. Unfortunately Kimi was unable to overtake Felipe and stayed stuck behind. I think we had the pace to be a little bit better and get nearer the front. We clearly need to work on qualifying and make sure we do a better job. We know our car is strong in the race and I think both drivers today did the job we were expecting. The team did a great job on the pit stop strategy so we cannot complain. Let's just say we're frustrated that we didn't do a little bit better."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "Both drivers reported that their cars were excellent during the race, which was good. The downside was that Kimi spent the whole race looking at the back of Massa's car and Romain was held up for around four laps whilst Michael (Schumacher) received blue flags ahead of him. This circuit is pretty difficult to overtake on; even though there's a very long straight, the DRS zone isn't actually that long. It was clear we were definitely faster than the cars ahead, just not sufficiently faster to overtake."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "A double points finish is a good result today. We worked very hard with the team to optimize the Coanda exhaust system and we have made some good progress in this area. In this respect it's been a very positive weekend and we hope to build on this momentum in a week's time in Abu Dhabi."
Nico Hulkenberg (8th): "I'm very happy with the result today and I think eighth was about the maximum that was possible. It was a great team performance and I'm feeling satisfied with what we achieved today. At the start I didn't get the best getaway, but I had a good first lap and was able to overtake Rosberg on the back straight and Maldonado going into turn four. The middle part of the race was quite lonely for me because I was running in clean air, but towards the end Grosjean was very close behind me and pushing me hard. But I didn't crack under the pressure, I kept him behind and we made the one-stop strategy work. You could really feel the support for the team today in the grandstands and it's great that we could score points for them."
Paul di Resta (12th): "It was quite a tough afternoon, but I think that we achieved all we could from the race because I couldn't get any more out of the car today. I drove as hard as I could and was pushing all the way. We were in the hunt battling with Rosberg and Senna, but I didn't really get close enough to challenge them. To be honest I've struggled to find the ideal balance with the car all weekend. We identified a few issues in the data last night, but they carried over into the race. I'm pretty sure the team can get on top of them and be more competitive when we get to Abu Dhabi next week."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "I'm delighted to see Sahara Force India score points at our home race – for the second year in a row. After qualifying we knew we had a big task ahead of us, but Nico rose to the challenge and raced well to finish in eighth place. It's a very satisfying result and it means we have scored points in the last six races – that's every race since the summer break. These are important points for our fight in the constructors' championship and we will continue to push very hard in the remaining three races. Paul also battled hard in the race, moving up four places, but it was difficult for him to challenge for points in the end. Overall it's been another great Indian Grand Prix. The circuit is a magnificent venue for motor racing and the Buddh International Circuit has once again delivered a fantastic event which we have all enjoyed immensely."
Kamui Kobayashi (14th): "I have to say it wasn't our weekend here. In the race I was never alone, I always had someone in front of me but not enough straight line pace to overtake. This was frustrating. I was stuck behind Daniel Ricciardo and there was nothing I could do. The issue with Pastor Maldonado was a bit strange. He had overtaken me but then he suddenly came on my racing line again. I could not avoid having contact. I think we should make sure we have a smooth weekend in Abu Dhabi and forget about this one here."
Sergio Perez (DNF, Damage): "Today was a total disappointment. First of all I had to pit after 14 laps because the front left tire was blistering badly. We don't know yet why this happened. I wanted to recover the lost positions but touched Daniel Ricciardo's front wing when I overtook him. The rear right tire came off the rim and damaged something at the rear of the car. So my race was over after 20 laps."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "A disappointing race. Kamui fought hard but his grid position was too much of a handicap. Sergio made a good start but then had unexpected problems with his front left tire. After an early pit stop he had a puncture and was forced to stop because the car felt strange. Our goal to fight for fifth position in the constructors' championship will now be more difficult to achieve."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "Sergio's speed was as expected, but then he had to stop early because the front left tire had blisters and we had to change to a two stop strategy. He went out on another set of soft tires, but then had contact with Daniel Ricciardo's car and had a puncture. After his second pit stop he reported problems with the rear of the car and we decided to retire him. Kamui had to start too far behind and, although he had better pace than Daniel, he was not able to overtake him and lost too much time in the first part of the race. Kamui was not able to recover from that."
Daniel Ricciardo (13th): "It was quite an eventful first lap. I was on the dirty side of the grid, but to be honest I did the best I could with the grip level I had. It was not enough for me to keep my position as Di Resta got ahead of me and I passed Schumacher who had a problem after Turn 1. There was some chaos at Turn 4 and I was three wide with Di Resta and Senna going into Turn 5, but I was on the outside and had to back off. I tried to push hard after that during my first stint, but I did not have a very good feeling on the Prime and was a bit off the pace. After I made my single stop to fit the Option, the car felt much better and was able to get into a good rhythm and was pushing and pushing. But it was not enough to catch Di Resta and towards the end I had to defend from Kobayashi. So, not exactly an exciting race but we can try again in just a few days in Abu Dhabi."
Jean-Eric Vergne (15th): "Immediately after the lights went out, I was caught up in a bit of a sandwich and had to brake harder and earlier than I wanted to. That meant I locked my wheels and made contact with the back of Schumacher's car. It broke my front wing, so I had to pit and my race was more or less over after that. I continued to push as hard as I could, trying to do good lap times, but the performance of my car has not really been that great this weekend. In one way, it's a race to forget, but in another sense, we have to see what we can learn from it, so that we arrive in better shape in Abu Dhabi. We have seen that, even when races are just one week apart, it doesn't mean one's performance is going to be the same at both of them, so we can be optimistic about the next round."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Both our drivers lost the chance to score points after difficulties on the first lap. In Jean-Eric's case it was more serious as he was involved in a collision with Schumacher and we had to bring him in to change the front wing, which dropped him down the order, while Daniel lost a place to Di Resta off the line. The overall pace of our car was not too bad during the rest of the race, running at the same rate as Di Resta and Senna. However, both our guys were stuck in the traffic and that meant an end to our run of three consecutive points finishes. If we can find a good set-up in a few days time in Abu Dhabi, then maybe we can aim for another top ten finish there."
Bruno Senna (10th): "We had a strong car in the race and after a disappointing qualifying yesterday, getting a point means that I am happy with today's performance. It was a fun race because I was fighting with cars that were very similar on pace so I had to make my overtaking maneuvers stick, and so that was very satisfying. The car has felt much better this weekend so we will head to the next race with a lot more confidence."
Pastor Maldonado (16th): "The car was feeling good today and I was confident that I was going to score points, but my race was effectively over when I was hit and picked up a puncture which put me towards the back and lost me a lot of time. It was a very unlucky race for me in the end, but we can take some positives in the fact that the pace of the car has improved and we should be more competitive for the final three races of the season."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "We are pleased to see that the race pace is strong once more with Bruno coming home in tenth even though our race was ultimately compromised with traffic and Pastor's race effectively finished when he picked up a rear puncture when Kobayashi made contact with him in Turn 5 on lap 31."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "Tenth position for Bruno is at least one point, but everyone expected more from the race. It was a shame that Pastor lost some time with the puncture as the car has been quick this weekend. We'll hope to get two cars in the points in Abu Dhabi."
Vitaly Petrov (17th): "I had a pretty good start and was pretty quickly up with Heikki and holding pace with him and the cars ahead until the first stops. The pace and degradation levels were both really good on the first set of tires so we opted to go longer and changed strategy from two to one stops. I came out just behind my teammate and then passed him when he had a KERS problem – after that I was up to 15th but with a few laps to go a couple of quicker cars behind passed me and I finished up 17th. Despite that it was a good race. The car felt great all afternoon and everyone's worked really hard all weekend. We have some new parts coming next week in Abu Dhabi so let's see what happens there."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th): "My start was good. I was up to 17th after the first lap and keeping pace with Kobayashi and the pack ahead as we pulled away from the cars behind. We had planned to do two stops but with the way the car was performing we went long on the first stint and switched to a one stop, boxing just after halfway. I had a good stop but about two thirds of the way through the race I had a KERS problem which meant I had to let Vitaly pass. From there it was really just a matter of getting my car to the end of the race. Losing KERS obviously didn't help but it was still pretty easy to pull away from the cars behind and without that problem I'm sure I'd have finished higher. Now we look ahead to next week's race where we'll have a few updates on the car and maybe those will help us close the gap to the cars ahead enough to help us fight for longer on race day."
Narain Karthikeyan (21st): "I got off to a good start but had an incident on the first corner and lost a chunk of my front wing. The damage wasn't too severe but we had problems with the balance of the car from then on. But the greatest problem was the overheating of the brakes. They warned me on the radio that I had to look after them because we had to make it to the end. And we did that. Today we got the most out of what we had and I'm happy to have finished my home race."
Pedro de la Rosa (DNF, Spin): "It's a shame that I had to retire because the car was running well on the hard tires but, with no warning, the brakes failed. This circuit is very demanding with three consecutive hard braking corners and with the high temperatures this can happen but the important thing is that I'm fine and the car isn't too damaged for Abu Dhabi. We have to understand why this failure occurred and fix it because Abu Dhabi is another challenging circuit for the brakes."
Luis Perez-Sala, Team Principal: "It was a tough race, especially at the beginning, because of the overheating of the brakes. Something which we weren't expecting to have at this circuit. From the start we were running to the limit temperature-wise and we had to reduce our pace a bit. We improved from then on and maintained our pace but towards the end Pedro had a brake failure and was unable to finish. Narain also had a complicated race but at least was able to finish in front of his home fans and that's the most positive thing."
Charles Pic (19th): "It was a great race for me, especially after a disappointing qualifying yesterday. We didn't get the chance to show our pace then, but we did today and I am very happy for that. I got a very good start and made up five places at Turn 1 and for the first lap, getting ahead of Petrov. They have the advantage of KERS though, so it wasn't long before he was able to pass, but for the rest of the race we stayed with the Caterhams and as the race played out I was catching up to Kovalainen. In the last few laps we were constantly having to back off for the blue flags, which lost us time and meant that we were unable to show that we could catch Heikki, but for sure the pace is there. A great stop by the crew today and very good work by the engineers and mechanics all weekend, especially to help us reverse our fortunes after qualifying. I am very happy and looking forward to continuing this in Abu Dhabi next weekend, where I will be back at a circuit I know well and where it all went so well for me in the Young Driver Test last year. I am hoping for another positive outcome there."
Timo Glock (20th): "It was a very strange race for me today. I was in the wrong place at Turn 1 and lost a couple of positions to HRT. Then I was stuck behind Petrov for quite a lot of laps and by that time the other guys were all gone. Generally though I struggled with the pace today; on Friday the car felt much better on the long runs. I also suffered quite a lot of vibration on my front right tire, especially in S2, and from 25 laps in I had too many blue flags to contend with. The same at the end. Because of this you just lose more and more time and it is impossible to recover. I'm looking forward to Abu Dhabi though and what I hope will be a better race for us."
John Booth, Team Principal: "A fantastic job by Charles today to reverse his fortunes following a frustrating qualifying result. He had the measure of all the cars affected by the first corner incident and he was able to get ahead of Petrov and hold a gap to him for quite some time. Unfortunately we were 'out-KERS'd' and Charles was unable to hold station for long. Nonetheless, once Petrov got past, Charles kept pace with the Caterhams and were it not for the last few blue flags he would have finished within 5.0s of Heikki. As was the case with a few other cars today, we were caught out by increased fuel consumption in the race and this did limit our ability to push. Timo had a less than optimum day sadly. The first corner incident hurt his race significantly and as a consequence he was stuck behind the HRTs for quite a while. He did a good job to clear them as soon as possible, however the time spent trying to pass them didn't help his first stint tires as the race progressed, given that we were running to a one-stop strategy. We also had an issue with the rear jack in his pitstop and unfortunately this compromised him further; when he rejoined the track he went straight into a significant blue flag spell. We haven't had a perfect weekend by any means and yet we take some comfort from the fact that we have still been able to achieve our objective of staying in touch with the competition. It's another back-to-back situation now and as we head to the Middle East our focus will be firmly on achieving a more typically slick weekend so we can reveal more of our true potential versus the cars ahead."
Results 60 Laps
Fastest lap: Button, 1:28.203 on Lap 60
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