Buddh Free Practice 1: Champion elect Vettel means business

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP1

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP1

It might have been mighty hazy during the first free practice session of the Indian Grand Prix weekend, but one thing was crystal clear: Sebastian Vettel means business this weekend; he went about confirming his authority early on at Buddh International Circuit by claiming top spot at the end of the morning session.

On a weekend on which Red Bull could enjoy a double crowning – the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles come Sunday afternoon – they got going in the best manner possible by annexing the top two spots on the timing screens, with Vettel setting a best time of 1:26.683 and teammate Mark Webber 0.188 seconds adrift.

Best of the rest was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, just under a quarter second off the top time, with teammate Lewis Hamilton fifth. Splitting the Silver Arrows was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus.

McLaren have tended to look strong on the first day of recent grand prix weekends, gradually falling down the order as weekends progress. In India they looked strong in FP1 with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, sixth and seventh respectively. The question is whether they can sustain the level when it matters.

Nico Rosberg was third fastest FP1

Nico Rosberg was third fastest FP1

Felipe Massa was fastest of the Ferrari pair, in eighth place, a full second down on Vettel’s best.

Next up, in ninth, was the Ferrari powered Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top ten in the Williams.

Out of the top ten was Fernando Alonso, who ended the session 12th – a gearbox problem late in the session did not help his cause. Alonso was sandwiched between the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso pair on the timing sheets, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were 11th and 13th respectively.

Also way down the order was Kimi Raikkonen who ended the session down in 17th, over a second and a half down on Lotus teammate Grosjean.

Force India reserve James Calado was on duty in place of out-of-sorts Paul Di Resta. Calado ended the session 18th. Di Resta will take over the cockpit from FP2 onwards.

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean was fourth in FP1

The circuit was very slippery, and the air hazy as F1 engines fired up in anger once again (perhaps for the last time?) at Buddh. Conditions on track were tricky, patrticularly Turn 5 where the likes of Pastoir Maldonado and Calado had some hairy moments.

Nevertheless all eyes are at the top of the timing sheets where the indications are that Vettel and Red Bull are on track to claim the double for a fourth year in a row. After all  the triple World Champion need only finish fifth on Sunday to make it four World Drivers’ titles in four years. Betting against him winning in India would be foolish. (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.

 

Indian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 25 October 2013

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.683 24
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:26.871 0.188 17
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.899 0.216 23
4 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:26.990 0.307 20
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.227 0.544 21
6 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.335 0.652 23
7 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.416 0.733 23
8 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.692 1.009 21
9 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.770 1.087 19
10 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:27.800 1.117 23
11 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:28.035 1.352 25
12 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:28.214 1.531 6
13 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:28.336 1.653 18
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:28.342 1.659 21
15 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:28.468 1.785 20
16 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.538 1.855 18
17 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:28.730 2.047 18
18 14 James Calado Force India-Mercedes 1:29.197 2.514 22
19 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:29.413 2.730 24
20 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:29.560 2.877 20
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:30.026 3.343 23
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:30.471 3.788 17

 

  • BoycotttheBoycott

    Vettel is a LEGEND. Suck it BoycotttheBull.

  • MAD EEVE

    Well i have to say well played Vettel! But you wont be a class act like MSC.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Alonso out of top ten…….

  • Tamburello_1994

    Looks like everyone else is in give up mode.

    Lame.

  • realf1fan

    That RB9 is awesome truly the best of Red Bull cars. I always thought the RB7 was the daddy but the RB9 sits on any track like it is on rails virtually no under/oversteer . I never thought a Coanda system would out do EBD .

    Just imagine Lewis or Alonso in those cars? I think we would be looking at 19 straight wins.

  • Ukwhite

    @MAD EEVE: Indeed mate, you are absolutely correct. Vettel would not have stopped the car at Monaco blocking Alonso. Not to mention other Michael’s tricks, me as a fan of him, I am not proud when I think about that.

    I will go further to say that Michael would not have stood a chance in Vettel’s era. By the way, he was beaten by Roseberg, some people saying Michael was old, but do not ever forget that Fangio got his trophies at an older age, his 40ties.

    I like Michael, I will always be thankful for the joy he gave me watching his races, but we should be honest when talking facts.

  • Ukwhite

    @realf1fan: Great car indeed, an evolution of the past would say. Yet, how easy is to forget Vettel evolved to, isn’t it?

  • realf1fan

    I will go further to say that Michael would not have stood a chance in Vettel’s era. By the way, he was beaten by Roseberg, some people saying Michael was old, but do not ever forget that Fangio got his trophies at an older age, his 40ties.

    …………………………………………………………………………………..

    I don’t often agree with you but I could not put it better myself.

    Also Mansell at the age of forty held two Motor sport tittles at the same time.

  • the fan

    with all due respect to sebastian. this will probably be the most boring of the races this season. no bearing, just formality.

  • Ukwhite

    @the fan: Fair statement, but the race is not about Vettel only. For many the competition for the rest of the field is amazing. Grosjean, Kimi, Mark, Lewis, Alonso and many others can offer us a great show. Even Button is not bad to watch, despite his car.