Vettel breaks track record with Indian GP pole

2013 Indian Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Buddh International Circuit, 2013Sebastian Vettel maintained his record of starting every Indian Grand Prix from pole position as he claimed his seventh of the year.

Vettel beat his 2011 track record at the Buddh International Circuit by 59 hundredths of a second as he comfortably saw off his rivals.

The Mercedes pair start behind him on the grid but were over seven tenths of a second slower than Vettel’s flying Red Bull.

Q1

The combination of rapidly improving track conditions and a significant gap in performance between the soft and medium tyres presented teams with some difficult decisions in Q1. In the end, only two drivers tried to make it through the first phase of qualifying without using the soft tyres.

Mercedes predicted a cut-off time for Q1 of 1’26.5 and Vettel beat that by six tenths of a second on his medium tyres. But Romain Grosjean, who has used similar tactics to good effect in recent races, was not able to pull it off this time.

The Lotus driver lost time on his final run, blaming traffic, and slipped to 17th place as Felipe Massa posted a late improvement in his Ferrari, leaving him to watch the rest of the session from the pits.

Pastor Maldonado also failed to make the cut for Q2 along with the Marussias and Caterhams as usual.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’26.577
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’26.842
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’26.970
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’27.105
21 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’27.487
22 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’28.138

Q2

Vettel switched to the soft tyres for Q2 and improved his time by 1.4 seconds. Fernando Alonso managed to split the Red Bulls with a lap three-tenths of a second slower than Vettel’s.

Mark Webber had a scruffy lap, running well off the track at turn nine. But according to team principal Christian Horner he didn’t gain time by doing so, and race director Charlie Whiting let the time stand.

The Force India drivers were separated by less than three hundredths of a second but failed to make the final ten at their home event. Nico Hulkenberg was the only Sauber driver to reach the final ten as Esteban Gutierrez was almost a full second off his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.519
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’25.711
13 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’25.740
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’25.798
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’26.134
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’26.336

Q3

The final part of qualifying presented teams with the question of which tyres to start the race with. Red Bull and Ferrari both elected to split the strategies between their drivers.

Vettel’s soft tyre run was his usual tour de force – rapid and accurate, he covered the lap in 1’24.119, beating his previous course record for the Buddh International Circuit.

As in Singapore, it seemed he didn’t need to make a final run, but he did go out again on the soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton caught the Red Bull driver at the fast turn eight/nine chicane and said on the radio he was held up.

Nonetheless Hamilton took third on the grid behind team mate Nico Rosberg, both using soft tyres. Behind them Webber took ‘medium tyre pole’, half a second slower than his team mate.

Choosing the medium tyres turned out to be a major sacrifice for Alonso. His Q2 time on soft tyres would have been good enough for third in Q3, just 14 thousandths of a second slower than Rosberg. With track evolution, a front row start may have been in the offing.

Instead he took eighth behind Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg, all of which were on soft tyres. The medium-tyred McLarens share row five, Perez ahead of Button.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’24.119
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’24.871
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’24.941
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’25.047
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’25.201
6 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’25.248
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’25.334
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’25.826
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’26.153
10 Jenson Button McLaren 1’26.487

2013 Indian Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty

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112 comments on Vettel breaks track record with Indian GP pole

  1. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 26th October 2013, 15:36

    Is it just me or Vettel is only making Q3 exciting by trying to break pole record?

  2. Slr (@slr) said on 26th October 2013, 16:08

    Today’s qualifying session was a joke for me; seeing cars constantly running of the track was so frustrating to watch. I’m glad David Croft and Martin Brundle shared my feelings as I watched the session.

    For Charlie Whiting to say that the drivers are not gaining advantages for going off the circuit is ridiculous. If the drivers had nothing to gain from going off the circuit, then they wouldn’t do it. If a driver has all four wheels of the track, their lap should be deemed invalid, regardless of whether they gained an advantage or not. They can’t have different rules for different circuits.

  3. Ron (@rcorporon) said on 26th October 2013, 16:48

    Can’t wait to see Seb raise four fingers tomorrow!

  4. Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 26th October 2013, 17:41

    I am not convinced that the medium tyre starting strategy is going to work, especially if anyone is hoping to catch Vettel. Look at the grid as it is for tomorrow: Vettel on pole with the Mercs behind him on similar tyres. Webber on primes in P4 with the Alonso, the next prime-starter in P8 with Massa, Raikkonen and the Hulk between them.

    Vettel on pole will not only be quicker than the two Mercs, but in all likelihood will make his soft tyres last a lap or even two more than them. By the time he comes in for his first change, he would have pulled out a good gap from Webber, Alonso, Perez and Button. All four of them will probably gain track position over Vettel when he comes out with fresh primes but in order to give credence to their strategy, those 4 will have to plough-on with primes for as long as possible and not be panicked into making an earlier stop as Vettel starts to close-in behind them. If any of then went in earlier than planned, it will defeat the purpose of starting on primes.

    This, when Vettel comes out on fresh primes after his first stop, it should not take him long to catch and pass the McLarens, also on primes by then, especially with that DRS-enabled straight. Alonso might just make it to his first stop while still ahead of Vettel but will get caught behind the likes of Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen and The Hulk when he emerges. If he has opted for softs for the second stint, he runs the risk of wearing them out while trying to pass those drivers and even if he manages P2 (which I seriously doubt) he will have no tyre life left to close-in on Vettel. If he uses another set of primes for his second stint, he will not be able to pass all of them and will not achieve anything worthwhile.

    Webber’s position is more interesting and has possibilities. If he gets a good start and keeps the trio of Massa, Raikkonen and the Hulk behind him for a few laps, it might remain that way till the trio’s first stops as their soft tyres start to wear. Webber will inherit the lead when Vettel goes in for his first stop and if he maintains a good enough distance from Alonso, should remain ahead of him as they both emerge from their own stops. Which tyre they give Webber for his second stint depends on his first; if that was good, he might get the options and try to leapfrog one or both Mercs, or pass them on track. But by then Vettel might be too far ahead for Webber to try and catch him with the softs but he has a much better chance than Alonso. With Webber therefore, a very good start and good first stint as absolutely essential.

    Merc would have considered all that and I am sure that their reason for abandoning the split-strategy in the last moment (recall the very late tyre switch for Hamilton before his final Q3 run) is to try and get one or both of them to remain ahead of Webber after all their first pit-stops. I think they will succeed but neither will be able to catch Vettel.

    Therefore, unless Vettel makes a mistake or has a car problem, this race looks like his for the taking.

  5. Ed Carver said on 26th October 2013, 20:24

    So vettel brakes the track record by going ‘off track’ numerous times on that track.

    Plus, is Webber actually that good, just seems to be a brave inconsistent driver IMHO, plus f you look at Williams he was about as good as Heidfeld, for vettel to prove himself as one of the all time greats, he HAS to move from his Red Bull home to be team mates with Hamilton or Alonso to show he is a cut above the rest, which I personally don’t believe he is, and this undeserved success is down to him being booed.

    p.s. don’t get mad at me, its just my opinion

    • Loup Garou (@loup-garou) said on 26th October 2013, 22:18

      Maybe just your opinion but is laughable. Vettel has more than proved himself since he came into F1 and he does not HAVE to do anything more to confirm his status as the best in order to get approval of bigoted doubting Thomases who will always voice their opinions to the contrary no matter what the evidence is. No one wins 4 WDCs by being undeserving. Vettel has done more justice with the package that he has been given than Hamilton has or ever will. Perhaps the latter should concentrate on racing a bit more and stop making a fool of himself with those silly tweets.

  6. evered7 (@evered7) said on 27th October 2013, 0:35

    I just don’t get it. This is the only time Ferrari are close to RB and They split strategy to put Alonso on medium and mid of the pack?

    Will not being on the front row help this time? To keep away from the pack and be close to the leader as possible.

    I know the title is all but over, but the decision puzzles me. Massa should have been on this strategy not Alonso.

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