30 October 2011
Vettel wins inaugural Indian GP
Massa's switch to the harder option tyre signalled the start of the second and final round of stops, although some tried (and failed) to stretch their efforts to a single stop. Webber was among the first to call, having seen his margin over Alonso cut by almost a second a lap, but Ferrari responded brilliantly, pitting its man two laps later and getting him back out ahead of the Australian. Webber attempted to stay with the Ferrari but ultimately had to settle for fourth, ensuring three world champions on the podium for India's first taste of F1.
With Hamilton and Massa out of the equation, the battle for fifth boiled down to a scrap between the two Mercedes, with Schumacher having moved ahead of Rosberg in the closing stages after delaying his second stop as long as possible. Having opened enough of a gap to give his crew a cushion, the seven-time champion was able to resume without losing a position, edging him closer to his team-mate in the overall standings after climbing from eleventh on the grid. Rosberg, meanwhile, had a big gap over the recovering Hamilton, who came home as the last unlapped runner.
Behind the subdued Briton, who has two races to regain the spark that made him the most exciting man in F1 in recent seasons, Alguersuari added to Toro Rosso's increasingly impressive tally, and benefited from Bruno Senna having to make a late stop to comply with the tyre rules to bring the Italian squad level with Sauber in the constructors' standings. STR also edged closer to Force India in the battle for sixth, despite the under-pressure Adrian Sutil gaining another couple of points for ninth, and would have moved clear of Sauber had Perez not made the most of his opening lap tyre change to claim the final scoring position.
Toro Rosso could have had two cars in the top ten had Sebastien Buemi not been forced to park his machine wreathed in smoke just moments after passing Hamilton for eighth. The Swiss joined Massa and Maldonado, who appeared to suffer a drive failure while running 13th, on the sidelines alongside the early casualties, while Senna's late stop dropped him behind Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov in eleventh and twelfth. di Resta was a disgruntled 13th after his strategy failed to play out, while Heikki Kovalainen came home two laps down after being badly delayed by both HRTs while trying to keep ahead of the leaders in the closing laps. The Finn remained ahead of Barrichello, while Jerome d'Ambrosio salvaged Marussia Virgin's weekend by overhauling the HRTs that had run ahead of him early on. Trulli rejoined after his first lap contretemps, but struggled with floor damage on his Lotus before pitting a lap from the end.
Button's second place secured the same position for McLaren in the constructors' championship, while Vettel racked up another record after passing Nigel Mansell's 1992 mark for laps led in a single season. Those notables, however, won't help a race that was definitely more korma than vindaloo stand out from others when it comes to looking back over the season.
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