Vettel wins in India but Alonso limits the damage

2012 Indian Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Sebastian Vettel edged away from Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ championship after scoring his fourth consecutive win of 2012.

Vettel had little to worry about as he led every lap for the second year in a row at the Buddh International Circuit.

Alonso limited the damage has best he could, rising to second place during the race, but was unable to keep Vettel from his fifth win of the year.

Alonso takes on the McLarens

Red Bull preserved the advantage of their front-row lockout at the start as their rivals furiously disputed third place. The McLaren drivers went side-by-side down the long straight as Alonso appeared alongside them heading to turn four.

Lewis Hamilton lost out to the Ferrari despite diving back down the inside of Alonso at turn four. He ran wide, allowing Alonso to claim the position back.

While the Red Bulls made good their escape Button temporarily held third place. But he was soon passed by Alonso and Hamilton, who simply out-gunned him on straight line speed in the DRS zone.

Already up to third, Alonso began a race-long pursuit of Mark Webber. The gap between the pair of them crept up for most of the first stint, reaching over four seconds.

Problems for Perez

Most drivers were aiming to get through the race on a single pit stop. Surprisingly, Sergio Perez was the first to hit trouble with his tyres and was passed by Nico Hulkenberg in the DRS zone.

Perez made an early pit stop on lap 14 and dropped down the running order. He then picked up a puncture while passing Daniel Ricciardo, and incurred car damage which forced an early retirement.

Kimi Raikkonen spent a frustrating stint stuck behind Massa, his Lotus’s poor straight-line speed leaving him unable to launch an attack even when Massa made an error late in the first stint.

That prompted Lotus to try to use the ‘undercut’ to get Raikkonen ahead. On lap 27 he was told to pit if Massa didn’t – the Ferrari stayed out, so the Lotus came in.

After Massa made his pit stop the pair were side-by-side heading to turn three – and then appeared to compete over who would be the last to reach the DRS activation line. Massa won the unusual contest, and although he followed Raikkonen onto the straight he was easily able to activate his DRS and re-pass the Lotus.

The other Lotus of Grosjean had started on the hard tyres. He briefly ran as high as fifth before being passed by Hamilton after the McLaren driver’s pit stop. Following his late change to softs Grosjean gained on Hulkenberg. But faced the same problem as Raikkonen had with Massa – he was simply unable to get on terms with the Force India on the straight.

KERS problem costs Webber second

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2012The single round of pit stops produced no change in the running order at the front, though Alonso gained on Webber and was briefly able to put him under pressure in the DRS zone before dropping back.

Hamilton remained fourth after an impressively slick McLaren pit stop which included changing all four wheels plus Hamilton’s defective steering wheel with no loss of position, or much in the way of time.

Back on the track, Hamilton edged closer to the Webber-Alonso battle for second. That dispute was resolved when Webber suffered a KERS glitch, allowing Alonso to pass him easily in the DRS zone.

Hamilton produced a series of quick laps as he closed on Webber’s ailing RB8. But he only got within DRS range in the final two laps, which proved too little too late.

There was further cause for concern on the Red Bull pit wall as sparks began to appear from beneath the front of Vettel’s car. The problem was immediately relayed to Alonso, who redoubled his efforts to reduce Vettel’s 11-second lead.

The Ferrari driver had hit down to under ten seconds when he went off at turn 14. The tarmac run-off meant he only lost a second to Vettel, but it finished off any hopes he had of catching the only driver left in front of him, and the one he most wanted to pass.

Schumacher’s spoiled race

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Buddh International Circuit, 2012Button had a quiet run to fifth while Massa held off Raikkonen for sixth despite running low on fuel – he pulled to a stop shortly after crossing the start/finish line.

Hulkenberg did the same after finishing eighth, though he was unsure why the team had told him to stop. Grosjean finished on his tail in ninth and Bruno Senna claimed the final point after a battling drive, passing Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado on the way.

Maldonado joined Perez in spinning off with a puncture, his caused by contact with Kamui Kobayashi. In all, three drivers suffered the same fate as Michael Schumacher picked up a puncture from Jean-Eric Vergne on lap one.

The delay cost Schumacher almost a full lap and he found himself being lapped by the leaders within minutes of the start. Hamilton was one of several drivers who complained about how slowly Schumacher responded to the blue flags, which the stewards will look into after the race.

Schumacher pulled in with five laps to go. The other Mercedes of Rosberg finished outside the points in 11th, followed by an unhappy Paul di Resta who had struggled with drag on his car early in the race.

Toro Rosso’s run of points scores came to an end as Ricciardo and Vergne were 13th and 15th, separated by Kobayashi. Maldonado’s puncture left him 16th followed by the Caterhams and Marussias.

Narain Karthikeyan was the last running driver in his home race after Pedro de la Rosa crashed out with another HRT brake failure.

Vettel’s fourth consecutive victory means his lead in the championship has increased to 13 points. With three races to go and 75 points left to be won he is far from safe yet, and Alonso knows that if Ferrari can produce some more pace from his car in the final races he is still in with a chance of winning this championship.

2012 Indian Grand Prix

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171 comments on Vettel wins in India but Alonso limits the damage

  1. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 28th October 2012, 20:04

    Alonso had one of his best drives of the year, what a driver! Vettel put 12s on his teammate using the same equipment, had it been Alonso in second from the start we would have had an amazing race.

  2. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 28th October 2012, 20:07

    I know webber is well liked due to his down to earth, Aussie straight talking demeanour, and I admire that too. But as a driver he is totally underserving of that red bull car, once again he proved that today. He’s a midfield driver.

  3. Jorge Lardone (@jorgelardone) said on 28th October 2012, 22:52

    I’m tired of reading: if Red Bull (Vettel) wins, is because of the car. If loses, is because the driver.
    If Ferrari (Alonso) wins, is because the driver, if not is because the car.
    I can only remember that it was Alonso and not Vettel who benefited from a win when his teanmate Piquet crashed deliberately in Singapore.
    That makes a difference.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 28th October 2012, 23:51

      @jorgelardone exactly. The win in Singapore 2008 was entirely down to the driver. Not of the winning car, but of the sister car :P

    • Jono (@me262) said on 29th October 2012, 0:36

      you must believe that all cars in formula 1 are equal in performance?

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 29th October 2012, 0:41

        lol he didn’t say that at all.

        • Jono (@me262) said on 29th October 2012, 1:39

          oh he didnt? sorry what did he say then?

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 29th October 2012, 2:45

            He didn’t say every car is equal. He said that according to some, if Vettel wins, people say it’s the car, but if Alonso wins, its him, as if Ferrari aren’t (and have never been) frontrunners.

            Then he for some reason referenced Singapore 2008.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 4:36

        @me262 what @jorgelardone is saying is that Vettel and Alonso have both won races where they have had a car advantage, and have won races where their car wasn’t the out-and-out quickest

        • Jono (@me262) said on 29th October 2012, 4:39

          which race has Vettel won without being in the quickest car?

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 5:52

            He’s generally been on pole when he’s won, but that does not mean he has the quickest car, though it may look to some that it does mean that.

            Spain 2011, Hamilton was catching him at 8 tenths a lap until he caught Vettel – which then resulted in 13 laps of the gap never being more than 7 tenths.

            China 2009 is dicey. The Red Bull may have been the quickest wet car, but it was certainly not the quickest dry car.

            Abu Dhabi 2009, Hamilton was quickest by a mile. Hamilton did retire, but that was from P2, from suspected brake problems. The problem turned out to be nothing, but the team couldn’t risk him turning up at a braking zone with failed brakes.

            Bahrain 2012, the Lotuses were quicker, at least for 3 quarters of the way.

            I would sort of say Singapore 2012, but I won’t, because it was pseudo-inherited.

            Monza 2008. People say “oh but look, his teammate was also on P4 in quali, and was only disadvantaged because he stalled off the line” – but that’s ignoring that Vettel (on a dry setup, no less) outqualified Bourdais (on a wet setup) by 9 tenths

          • Jono (@me262) said on 29th October 2012, 6:23

            in 2012… not comparable to alonso’s Ferrari…by a mile. Even Newey would testify to that xD

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 6:38

            @me262 to be honest, in its current form, the race pace of the F2012 is quite underrated.

          • Jono (@me262) said on 29th October 2012, 6:44

            no doubt…if ferrari can better their qualifying alonso would have a chance

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 7:13

            @me262 yes – where they fall short right now is qualifying. On Sunday their pace was better than the Red Bull in India. Had Alonso been on pole he would have been pulling away. But because he qualified low, he HAD to make a good start and naturally got held up by traffic.

            The Alonso + F2012 package has the race pace to win – of that there is no doubt. But they need to qualify better.

          • No wrong. The ferrari race pace is good but not at the level of Red Bull. When Alonso overtook Button was 5.3 sec behind Vettel at the end of the first stint the differenc he WAS 11.4 sec behind Vettel. Alonso overtook Webber because of a kers problem. Vettel was not pushing in the end of race, because the win was guaranteed…so no Ferrari is not yet in race pace in the RB level. Ferrari is the second best car in the race pace and Third in the quali pace.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 11:29

            @fanser I take your points, all true. But on the very last lap, I’m quite sure Vettel was pushing, in his habit of trying for fastest lap. Alonso’s fastest lap was quicker than that lap.

        • which race has Vettel won without being in the quickest car?

    • tigen (@tigen) said on 29th October 2012, 1:35

      There is a contingent of Vettel haters who always say these things. Especially the Alonso fans who think he has magical abilities. Alonso is good, but he looks especially good simply because Massa always sucks. Alonso is not superhuman and makes mistakes like other drivers, he does every weekend and the same this time. And the Ferrari is never as bad as people make it out to be. It’s consistently quick although never the best, but one of the best in reliability.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 9:08

        @tigen he does make mistakes. The Ferrari being a good race car but bad quali car also makes him look even better because people tend to look at quali to define who is quick/not.

      • suka (@suka) said on 29th October 2012, 10:57

        I honestly doubt anybody hates Vettel here but when you Vettel fans make comments about Vettels’ skills (which are just as good Hamilton’s or Alonso’s)you usually take bashing either at Alonso or Hamilton whoever is hot at that moment. and this time Alonso is the hot shot.

    • Broom (@brum55) said on 29th October 2012, 7:14

      Maybe because in all of Alonso’s wins this year he wasn’t in the fastest car. In Malayasia it was Sauber, in Valencia it was Red-Bull and Renault and in Germany McLaren and Red-Bull.

      In Singapore was Vettel arguably slower than McLaren but then he was ‘lucky’ as according to some here an unreliable car = bad luck, ignoring that imperfect reliability is a risk some teams take to make their cars go faster/fastest. Taking the rough with the smooth. Since then 3 1-2 qualifying lock outs and only Grosjean has prevented both Red-Bull drivers from both being on the podium in each race.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 7:51

        @brum55 To be fair though – Alonso was the fastest car that didn’t bin it, in both Malaysia and Valencia. Once Grosjean and Vettel died in Valencia then Alonso’s car took on the title of “fastest car.” Kimi was there, but got held up for too long to be a victory threat. Malaysia, Perez’s off spooked him IMO, and he stopped giving it his 100% – toning it down a notch to maybe 98%

        While I get what you’re saying on Germany, you’re forgetting dirty air. The McLaren and Red Bull were on out-and-out pace probably quicker in Hockenheim, but once they were close to Alonso the cars became slower thanks to losing downforce.

        I’m not saying Alonso hasn’t been impressive, but I’ve been more impressive with his damage limitation rather than his wins. I was watching FP1 and FP2 in Malaysia when I thought, “My God… this Ferrari could be awesome if it were to rain in the race.” The early signs were there – as they were for the Sauber too.

        Yes reliability really is linked to speed, and a lot of people forget that. A second spent on making the car quicker is a second that is not spent making it more robust. In that sense the Ferrari has been mighty since 2011. Alonso’s last mech DNF was (to memory) Malaysia 2010.

        But if lack of reliability is not classed as bad luck, then similarly – lack of pace is not classed as bad luck, because that is “ignoring that imperfect speed is a risk some teams take to make their cars go reliably”

        • Broom (@brum55) said on 29th October 2012, 8:16

          Alonso was ahead of both Renaults when Grosjean DNF’d this was despite starting behind both.
          Dirty air is an issue but Germany is a track which allows for overtakes and there was a good DRS there also. It was a very hard fought win.
          Regarding reliability vs speed I tend to argue that both can be considered lucky or not. But if people consistently say Alonso is lucky because he had had fewer problems than Vettel than you could than argue he is unlucky to be driving an inferior car. Or you could say that Vettel’s car advantage is negated by the points Vettel lost due to DNFs. Personally I think given the option of a slower car with 0/17 mech DNFs or the faster car with 2/17 DNFs most would chose the faster as you would be able to make up the difference lost on those DNFs as Vettel has done.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 8:39

            @brum55 it is – but Hockenheim’s hairpin is so tight and narrow that it’s easy to defend. If you have a motorway style pass then it’s difficult to defend in Hockenheim – but if you need to do it under braking it’s difficult.

          • crr917 (@crr917) said on 29th October 2012, 11:57

            @brum55 but the faster car has the lowest top speed of all so no motorway overtaking.

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 29th October 2012, 21:46


        What about the races where he had the fastest car and did not win?
        He should have won Silverstone. Even Massa (yes, Massa) was doing faster lap times than Alonso at the end of the race. Whether it was Ferrari or Alonso that made the wrong decision doesn’t matter. He lost a race he should have won.

        • Broom (@brum55) said on 30th October 2012, 8:09

          Not sure what race you were watching but Red-Bull was the fastest . Both Webber & Alonso chose the full range of tyres and Webber won comfortably in the end lapping nearly a 1s faster at the end of the race and overtook him with ease. Ferrari was so poor on the softs. So what if Massa put a faster time? Massa probably was faster at that point, just like in the race Webber was faster than Vettel.

  4. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 3:47

    That Ferrari is a raceday monster. Very quick in the last 3 races. I think a lot of people are taking their quali pace for granted and assuming it is a reflection of their race pace – which it hasn’t been.

    Vettel in the end posted 3 green sectors, and was clearly doing his habit of going for fastest lap, but was still pipped by the Ferrari.

  5. Interesting Stat about Mclaren.

    First 3 races Hamilton finished 3rd every race. Since then he’s finished on the podium 3 times: Canada, Hungary & Italy; The 3 races he won. That’s where Mclaren/Hamilton have lost the title. Probably the fastest car in the first 3 grand prix, nowhere mid season, then a 4 race run where they were best again, back to nowhere now.

    Alonso has consistently been on the podium or in the Top 5 all season long! Vettel has scored good points usually the Red Bull has always been 2nd/1st in terms of car performance all season.

    That’s been my major frustration with Mclaren since 08..over a season they cant deliver a consistently podium capable car. You dont win titles like that.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 29th October 2012, 11:38

      @aledinho he’s had a couple of bad results though – a 7th (or 8th?) in Bahrain, and something like 9th in China.

      But yes, the key to his title hunt this year has been that his lows are not very low, while his highs are as high as others’ highs (a win is a win)

      • Yeah true, Britain was another bad GP for him but that was because of poor car performance (my original point) other than potentially Valencia where he could hagve just let Maldonado past, Hamilton has driven superbly this season. I would guess another factor in his decision to leave, since 08 Mclaren have never really made a championship winning capable car…always there or there abouts but not enough to win the title. Bahrain was a bad result but that was another race where pitsop problems plagued him.

    • crr917 (@crr917) said on 29th October 2012, 12:07


      Red Bull has always been 2nd/1st in terms of car performance all season.

      Even in Malaysia, China, Catalunya, Italy? Canada?

      • In malesia was difficult to say because it was a chaotic race…we can’t obtain pace raking from that race.
        In china they weren’t in the top two but maybe in race pace they were 3rd.
        Catalunya no they weren’t 2nd or 1st. Mclaren and Williams were.
        Italy they were 3rd
        Canada not. In canada Mclaren ferrari red bull were very close to each other. Butif we take in term of pure performance it was Mclaren 1st Red Bul 2nd Ferrari 3rd… with e very close gap form each other. Yes in canada they were 2nd.

        Another important point is that in thefirst part of the season there isn’t a Dominant car so nobody was able to put a gap in points or in victorys…like Red Bull is doing now. Maybe Lotus in average had the best car but for some reasons they didn’t capitalise a lot. Mclaren had a good pace in quali but not in race and they also made a lot of mistakes.
        The first part of the season was chaotic (7 race 7 different winners) in this type of competition the driver ability is important and we all know Alonso is the most complet driver that’s why he built a point gap. The problem is that when you have a first part like that but with a second part completely different with a dominant car…that’s GAME OVER.
        There is nothing a human can do now, and unfortunately Alonso is a human.
        u see the differenc:
        7 first race 7 different winners.
        4 last race 1 winer.

        Only DNF from Vettel can give Alonso the championship or a wet race (Brasil??)
        I have also a question if someone knows in Austin there is a rain possibility?? I know that in Abu dhabi is 0 but in Austin?? did anyone knows?
        We will be in novembre so can God help us….:)

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 29th October 2012, 15:01

          The first part of the season was chaotic (7 race 7 different winners) in this type of competition the driver ability is important and we all know Alonso is the most complet driver that’s why he built a point gap.

          Without unreliability or team errors, Hamilton and Vettel wouldn’t have let that gap build up after Valencia.

      • Point taken about Malaysia/china/italy but Canada Vettel was on pole & set fastest lap!

        When Mclaren had their slump Red Bull were more or less the pacesetters (close with ferrari though) and now they have a good advantage! that was my point, not saying they ahven’t had their bad races but they have been more consistent in performance than mclaren

        • crr917 (@crr917) said on 29th October 2012, 19:31

          @aledinho, Vettel set pole but had worse race pace. Fastest lap was due to late pitstop (4 laps before finish?). It’s hardly representative of the race pace, when Alonso chose to not pit, and Hamilton pitted much earlier.
          @fanser gave me the answer I wanted to read – it has been hard to judge the teams positions relative to one another most of the races. Just look at the Indian GP – McLaren’s cars stint on hard tires was great, but they were off pace on softs.

          And no “we” don’t know if Alonso is the most complete driver of the grid but some choose to believe so :P
          (and of course there is nothing wrong about it!)

  6. Jason (@jmwalley) said on 29th October 2012, 15:44

    Massa and Raikonen battling to see “who would be the last to reach the DRS activation line” was a humorous but still entertaining highlight of the race. I was screaming at Kimi through the TV when I saw him start to make the lunge.

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