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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Columns

Red Bulls raged but Schumi’s credentials were on full display
Karun Chandhok, Hindustan Times
October 31, 2011
First Published: 00:29 IST(31/10/2011)
Last Updated: 00:35 IST(31/10/2011)
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany kisses his trophy after winning the Indian first Formula One Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.

Sebastian Vettel carried on his tremendous form to win the first Indian Grand Prix in dominant style. The world champion started at the front and was never headed all through the race, proving once again just why he deserves to be the youngest double world champion in history.

The two Red Bulls got off the line strongly but Button crucially got through to second on the first lap, as Alonso slid wide, letting Webber keep third. The Australian mounted some vigorous attack on Button over the opening laps, before McLaren managed to escape and head off for an ultimately uncontested second.

As the race progressed, Webber was always under pressure from Alonso in the opening two-thirds of the race. The Ferrari ace, in my opinion, is the best race driver on the grid when it comes to having the ability to run lap after lap at a relentless pace, while managing the tyres. Once again he proved it, hounding Webber until the final round of pitstops.

The Red Bull seemed to be the only team to really make the harder tyre work this weekend, yet when Webber switched to them at the final stop, he struggled to get the pace out of the tyres on the opening two laps which allowed Alonso to sneak ahead.

Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa's turbulent season continued with yet another collision. The Brazilian had got ahead of the McLaren on the first lap and was a safe distance ahead until an error going into Turn 1 just before half-distance left Massa vulnerable to attacks from Hamilton. After several failed attempts, Hamilton went down the inside at Turn 5 --- with the stewards deciding Massa was at fault for leaving insufficient room and giving the Brazilian a drive-through penalty. Massa later retired when he smashed his suspension on a kerb, just as he had in qualifying, while Hamilton recovered from ninth to seventh after pitting for a new front wing.

Michael Schumacher's was one of the best drives of the day. A fast start and a good consistent run moved him up the order from 11th on the grid all the way to fifth and ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg. Many critics this weekend asked me "why did Michael come back?" To be honest, once you analyse this season, he has actually had a stronger run in the races than Nico has for most of the second half of the year. If you look at Canada, Spa, Monza and here in India, Michael's Sunday performance have been very good given his current car disadvantage relative to the Red Bulls and McLarens.

In qualifying, the seven-time world champion is still not a match for his team-mate perhaps, but his race pace cannot be questioned anymore.

Overall, the Buddh International Circuit proved to be a hit with the drivers, with many of them complimenting the fast flowing nature of the lap.

Plans are already being made to counter any question marks about dust for next year to make overtaking opportunities a bit easier, but in general, there was enough action to keep the capacity crowd entertained!

(Karun Chandhok is a Team Lotus driver and brand ambassador of the Buddh International Circuit)


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