Sebastian Vettel didn't even need to finish the race to become a four-times World Champion...
Star of the Race
Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 3rd
Pirelli recommended that the medium tyre shouldn't be used for more than 35 laps. After 42 laps Adrian Sutil's Force India was giving up 2.8 seconds a lap to the cars behind him and he had to come in. After 47 laps Grosjean was still managing to hold off Felipe Massa who had stopped 17 laps after him. At the same time he was having to short shift and manage other problems with the car. It was an outstanding drive. It's also rare that you get a driver eliminated in Q1 (who should have been on the front two rows) and who can manage a rueful smile at his predicament.
Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 58, Sergio Perez on Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton for P5
Perez did his future employment prospects no harm at all with a strong drive to fifth place (on a day when rumours of Nico Hulkenberg in a McLaren were circulating - he's about Jenson's height and only 4kg heavier). His performance included a pass on two World Champions at once, Raikkonen on fading tyres and the ever-belligerent Lewis Hamilton. The pass down the long straight was straightforward enough, it was getting the car stopped afterwards and defending into the next corner which was the really difficult part and Perez pulled both off without having to use his elbows and without a lock-up.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1st
Seb survived a poor getaway and was maybe thankful that the run to Turn 1 is quite short at the Buddh. At other circuits that kind of launch might have seen him back in fourth place. Even if he'd ended Lap 1 in P4 he wasn't going to be there for long as the early tyre stop put him back in the traffic. He fought his way through with the confidence of someone who knows his car is about a second quicker than all the others.
It's hard to assess his fourth World Championship without the perspective of time or a team-mate of the calibre of an Alonso or Hamilton, but when it comes to other four-time champions, Prost and Schumacher, neither have been able to articulate the experience of winning as Vettel can. His post-race 'live' interview with the BBC's Lee Mckenzie was thoughtful and intelligent. If Prost was' the Professor', then that would surely make Vettel Head of the Faculty.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 6th
Wiley old Ross Brawn could have split the strategies up but reasoned that it was better to start on the front two rows and stay out of trouble. How right he was. Rosberg showed a great turn of pace once his pit-stop strategy put him ahead of Massa. Sadly Mercedes couldn't pull that trick twice and Lewis Hamilton was stranded the other side. In Korea Hamilton was passed on the opening lap and never recovered the places and it was the same again here.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 4th
Bernie Ecclestone says it's unthinkable for F1 not to have a Brazilian driver in 2014 so you sense the wheels are in motion to keep Felipe on the grid next year. This drive ticked all the boxes - good qualifying, good start, consistent running and a high finish.
Paul Di Resta, Force India, 8th
Adrian Sutil, Force India, 9th
A welcome and much-needed return to the points for Force India - Sutil nursed his car through to Lap 42 and got a one-stopper to work. It may not have been pretty but it's a bare knuckle fight with Sauber now and 23 points is a big margin to make up in three races when it's taken the Swiss team 16 races to get to 45 points. Paul DiResta re-established himself as the Force India man in a hurry, if only in a hurry to get to the toilet after sampling the local cuisine. As someone remarked, he really did feel the force of an Indian.
Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 10th
Ricciardo may not have netted a bulging sack of points for Toro Rosso in their fight with Sauber but he did manage to keep Fernando Alonso at bay in the last 20 laps, which will be good experience for 2014. Although he won't be able to rely on Alonso having a steering imbalance next season.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 7th
Try making that radio exchange into a T-shirt then...
Kimi was the victim of a first turn impact from Mark Webber which may well have caused the brake problems he experienced throughout the race. Going for 52 laps on one set of tyres was always going to be a big ask - and too much of an ask as it turned out.
Raikkonen, as an old hand, should have moved over and let Grosjean through in the latter stages, because he knew he wasn't going to keep him behind till the end of the race. His team radioing through, "Get out of the ****ing way!" was also a big clue. Resisting only delayed Grosjean, put dirt on his tyres and gave Massa the sniff of a chance of a podium.
Mark Webber, Red Bull, DNF
Looking on the bright side... at least his car didn't catch on fire.
It was a case of the three amigos - Webber, Button and Alonso - all involved in some kind of contact in the first few corners. Webber looked to have midjudged Turn 1 and was bounced out by the kerbs into Raikkonen, corrected, then hit Alonso, whose wing was damaged and then ran wide and gave Button a large impact and a puncture.
Mark survived all that contact and duly took over in front when all the soft tyre runners came in, but fell victim to the old throwback problem of the Renault alternator. Now it's not like us to start conspiracy theories, but the last time they had problems like that on the Red Bull-Renault they were running interesting engine maps. Just sayin'.
Jenson Button, McLaren, DNF
Sometimes there's no pleasing Jenson Button. In the past when McLaren have scraped into Q3 and they've run a softer tyre, Jenson's lamented the fact that they should maybe have taken a sensible pill and not gone for glory. This race, when Mclaren took the sensible pill and opted for mediums above the soft tyre in Q3 he was moaning that it would have been nice to see where the soft tyre could have got them. (Even though in Q2 it looked like he'd gone faster on his used set than he did on a new set).
The strategy got Sergio Perez into a great position but Jenson was blameless when Fernando Alonso lost control and hit him hard puncturing a tyre. That was his strategy gone. Had he continued he could have got at least a P7 or P8.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 11th
Fernando had the kind of start that the balance of probabilities predicted he would have sooner rather than later this season. Many times this year he's been in the right place at the right time and today he wasn't. He was blameless for his crumped front wing, and that could well have pitched him into Jenson Button later on in the lap.
Greater Noida Tourist Board
The gloom at the Buddh International circuit was described variously as smog, mist, fog and haze. Whetever it was, it didn't make you want to rush there and experience it for yourself.
It was surprising how lax the enforcement of the racing circuit boundaries were throughout the race, yet the stewards were quite happy to reprimand Sebastian Vettel for his post-race donuts and hand the team a 25,000 Euro fine. Winning your first four World Championships in a row has never been done before and deserved an epic celebration. It's good to get consistency of stewarding decisions, so this one fits the Webber-Taxi-Ride mould, and would have been understandable had they not displayed a bewildering disregard for the confines of the circuit through the race.
Eddie Jordan talking about Nico Hulkenberg:
"He's a new man he's found in himself."
Eddie JordanTalking about 2014 prospects, EJ was going to say "Championship" but at the last minute his word selector opted for "Title" and so we got:¨"I think Mercedes have an unbelievable chance to take the chitle next year."
Suzi Perry After Eddie tried to intercept Sebastian Vettel on his way to the post-qualifying press conference. "I'll give you some credence, you've got some big wheelnuts down there."
Doesn't bear thinking about.
This was the "Oooh Matron" Carry On theme for most of the weekend
David Coulthard: "I'm being rear-ended by people up and down the pitlane.
Suzi Perry: Steady on.
EJ: You'll be sacked.
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