By winning his 11th grand prix this year, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is still on course to equal the record for the most number of wins in one season: 13, held by Michael Schumacher from 2004.
The brand-new Buddh circuit on the outskirts of Delhi evolved considerably over the course of the weekend, with the times getting faster as the track cleaned and more rubber was laid down on the track. The P Zero Yellow soft tire and P Zero Silver hard tire were nominated for the race, with the softer tire proving to be around two seconds per lap faster than the harder compound.
This gave rise to some interesting strategies as the drivers tried to limit their running on the hard tires. Force India’s Paul di Resta, Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, and Sauber’s Sergio Perez were the only drivers to start the race on the harder tire, but they swiftly moved onto the soft tire within five laps.
Vettel led from start to finish, using a two-stop strategy to win from McLaren’s Jenson Button – who made up two places from his grid position at the start of the race. The top six all used a two-stop strategy, with Lewis Hamilton the highest-placed three-stopper in seventh following a collision.
Having dropped out of the top 10 following the clash with Hamilton, Felipe Massa was the first frontrunner to switch to the hard tire on lap 31 but the Ferrari driver was unable to finish the race due to broken suspension. His team mate Fernando Alonso used pit stop strategy to help secure a podium finish, stopping two laps after Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber for the hard tires on lap 37. The pair of them were separated by less than two seconds all the way to the finish.
Vettel, who had claimed pole position on Saturday, moved over to the hard tire for his final stop with 13 laps to go. The German also set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap with the hard P Zero Silver tire, winning by 8.433s over Button.
Lotus Renault’s Bruno Senna carried out the longest stint on the soft tire during the race, lasting 34 laps, while Williams driver Rubens Barrichello completed the longest stint on the hard tire, for exactly 34 laps as well.
Conditions were dry and warm throughout the race, which started with an ambient temperature of 88° Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 99° Fahrenheit, in hazy sunshine.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Without knowing exactly how the circuit would be, we decided to bring the hard tire to India, which was a deliberately conservative choice. This led to some very interesting strategies, with a few drivers running the hard compound at the very beginning of the race and others using it at the very end. The key element during the final phase of the race for the two frontrunners was understanding at which point a new set of hard tires was quicker than a used set of softs. It was a tough race, but we saw very good durability from both compounds as well as excellent performance – with Vettel setting fastest lap of the race on the hard P Zero Silver tire. We’ve also accumulated plenty of information which will be very useful when it comes to selecting our nominations for next year.”
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