Indian F1 Grand Prix 2013: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying
The 2013 Formula 1 title looks set to be decided this weekend at the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in New Delhi.
Sebastian Vettel's 90-point lead with four races of the season left means that a result of fifth or better in India will seal his fourth straight drivers' crown.
Victory in India, meanwhile, would take him to six straight wins for the first time and make him just the third man in history to achieve the landmark, according to F1complete.com.
Practice sessions for the race take place on Friday and Saturday ahead of qualifying, with the race set for Sunday.
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Q3: Vettel Again Reigns Supreme
Sebastian Vettel needed just one lap to assert his superiority over the rest of the field, finishing on pole position for the third straight year in India.
Table via Autosport.com
Vettel knocked 1.707 seconds off the previous best time, setting the fastest lap ever recorded at the Buddh International Circuit. His time of 1:24.119 was seven tenths of a second ahead of Nico Rosberg, both of whom will start the race on soft tyres.
Rosberg edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton to finish on the front row—also on soft tyres—while Mark Webber will start from fourth, but on medium compound tyres.
If the Australian driver can get a solid start he will be able to dictate the pace of the race while the top three have to come in earlier.
Behind Webber, the top ten is completed by Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button.
Button will be disappointed with his finish, but he is on medium tyres so will be another driver looking to work his way up the field as other teams are forced to pit.
However, all eyes will be on Vettel as he bids to take the World Drivers' Championship for the fourth time. A win would secure the title for Vettel and Red Bull, and no one is going to bet against him.
Q2: The Return of Vettel
Vettel had dropped to 11th place after Q1, but that was never going to last.
The German waited until there were just five and a half minutes remaining for the segment, but promptly displaced Mark Webber to climb back to first place with a familiar display of dominance.
Vettel's time of 1:24.568 was good enough to top Webber by half a second and go into the final qualifying period ahead of the field. While other drivers emerged for a final run on soft tyres, Vettel stayed in the garage and didn't need to go out again.
Casualties of the session were Daniel Ricciardo in 11th and Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez. All those drivers failed to qualify for Q3.
Q1: Jenson Button Takes the Initiative
Jenson Button put together a good run that ensured McLaren ended a qualifying session fastest for the first time this season.
Button beat out Mark Webber by 0.1 of a second and posted a lap time of 1:25.574 in a satisfying segment for the British driver.
At the other end of the scale, Romain Grosjean took a gamble on his tyres and stuck with the medium compound. He was confident in his ability to make the grade for Q2, but it proved to be costly.
Grosjean slipped down to 17th and was eliminated from qualifying to cap off a disastrous day for the French driver.
The other drivers who failed to make the grade were Pastor Maldonado, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde, Charles Pic and Max Chilton.
FP3: Vettel Continues Perfect Showing
No one could prevent Sebastian Vettel ending FP3 on top of the pile, despite smog grounding the medical helicopter and delaying the start of the day's proceedings.
The session was shortened to 40 minutes, but Vettel wasted no time. He needed just one lap to post his time of 1:25.332, and didn't even complete a lap on the hard tyres.
Teammate Mark Webber finished in second place, despite only managing to get within half a second of Vettel.
Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean completed the top five, but it was Vettel again who stole the show.
There doesn't seem to be anyone who can challenge the German driver right now.
FP2: Red Bulls on Top Once Again
Sebastian Vettel rounded off a day of dominance for Red Bull with top spot in FP2 ahead of the Indian Grand Prix, with Mark Webber second.
On their soft tyre run, Vettel's 1:25.722 was the mark to beat, while Romain Grosjean in the Lotus was the best of the rest.
Harder tyres proved around a second a lap slower than the softs, but on the long-stints the Red Bulls were again the team to beat, even if Nico Rosberg came within 0.001 seconds of Webber's time.
Further down the field Pastor Maldonado's Williams caused some consternation when it shed a wheelnut on the circuit. The Venezuelan did manage to nurse it back to the pit lane, though not quite as far as far as the Williams garage.
But at the front there looks to be no stopping Vettel from scooping another world title, with car and driver synchronised superbly.
Here are the times as given by Ferrari (also available on Eurosport):
FP1: Vettel Leads Red Bull, 1-2
It was business as usual for Red Bull, as Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber home in a one-two on the timesheets in Free Practice 1 ahead of the Indian Grand Prix.
The margins were small—Vettel had less than a couple of tenths of a second on Webber, who, in turn, was just three-hundredths clear of Nico Rosberg.
Romain Grosjean was the only other man within half-a-second of the lead in the Lotus, while Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was in fifth, ahead of the two McLaren drivers.
Perhaps more ominous for the field was Vettel's efforts to run longer stints. Usually, the race simulation runs are not seen until later in the weekend, but Red Bull's preparations still look more thorough than those of their rivals, despite the advantage they enjoy.
#INDGP First practice session ends. Checks still in progress on Fernando's gearbox: realiability always a crucial factor.— Scuderia Ferrari (@InsideFerrari) October 25, 2013
One man missing out on the session was Force India's Paul di Resta, who was laid low by an illness. In an interview during the session on the official broadcast, he said he had recovered and expected to be back in the seat in FP2.
James Calado stood in during his absence.
Here are the session times, as given by Lotus on Twitter (another full list is available on Eurosport):