Forget 2012’s championship three-peat, on Sunday at the Buddh International Circuit, Sebastian Vettel won six races in a row to claims his fourth Championship title for Red Bull. His win also cements another consecutive constructors championship for the Milton Keynes team. The enormity of this win is unbelievable. Vettel sits fourth in number of total race wins behind absolute legends of the sport, Ayrton Senna with 41, Alain Prost with 51, and Michael Schumacher with 91. With three races left in the season, hats off to Vettel and Red Bull for performing absolute dominance.
It was good racing all around especially with the guys rounding off the podium. Nico Rosberg finished second to add to the Mercedes points haul in the constructors championship (now leading Ferrari by 4) and a surprising third place finish, Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman fought his way up from P17 at the start to land his Lotus on the podium, and near the end engaged teammate Kimi Raikkonen in a wheel-to-wheel fight which saw Grosjean leave the track altogether. Back to Mercedes, Rosberg continues to be better on his tires than teammate Lewis Hamilton… more on him later.
The man expected to finish on podium, Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, had yet another heartbreaking incident which ended his race prematurely. On Lap 20, Webber was ordered to pull off track and stop due to an alternator failure. The dismay in his voice was evident as he pulled into the runoff area, a sight so frequent in the last few races of the year. Aside from a rocky start, Webber was on track to take the fight to Vettel due to a different tire strategy. Webber, slow off the line, made contact with the cascade elements on the front of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and jostled into Raikkonen before Turn 2. This caused Alonso to pit prematurely for new tires and front wing damage; he never recovered and finished just out of the points in 11th.
Alonso’s teammate Felipe Massa finally converted his good P5 starting position into a positive fourth place finish. Massa monopolized after the start to claim second position behind Vettel, and then fought his way back up against the pair of Lotuses on lap 58, excecuting a thrilling three-abreast pass with Grosjean over Raikkonen. Following right behind was a knife’s-edge drive by McLaren youngster, Sergio Perez in fifth position, for his best finish of the year thus far. Perez wrung out every last ounce of performance from his car, and made some spectacular moves late in the race over Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. On clapped-out tires, both Raikkonen and Hamilton were sitting ducks as they were passed easily in the closing laps.
Closing out the top 10 were Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil for Force India, followed by Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. Sutil had been holding 4th position for most of the race after going a tremendous 41 laps without stopping. Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg retired in the closing laps, resulting in his startling absence from the points this weekend. Hulkenberg has amassed four top 10 finishes since Italy.
We have but one week ’til the next race in Abu Dhabi. How will things shape up now that Vettel has secured his 4th World Title? He has the opportunity to make his current 6-win streak into a 9-win obliteration of the 2013 season. Does Red Bull have what it takes to get him there? Obviously not if you’re Mark Webber… Stay tuned, I’m sure we’ll hear some more evolution in that story in the days to come.