Taking a giant step towards becoming a modern great, Sebastian Vettel cruised into the history books by winning his fourth consecutive Formula One world title as he conquered the Indian Grand Prix for the third time in a row, in Greater Noida on Sunday.
Changing his tyres strategy after only two laps on softs from pole position, Vettel switched to mediums and drove sensationally to grab the lead after joining the race in the 17 place, yet again showing that he was uncatchable in his RB09.
Red Bull looked set for a one and two but Mark Webber’s race ended due to gearbox problem in lap 40. His team ordered him to stop the car. However, Red Bull still won the constructors’ title. So it was double delight for Red Bull.
Vettel bowed on the Buddh International circuit after completing the victory and then jumped on his car, celebrating his historic win, which he took ahead of Mercedes Nico Rosberg, who was 29.8 seconds behind.
Joining them on the podium was Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who had sensational race as he worked his way to third position after starting 17 on the grid.
Vettel needed to finish only fifth to become youngest quadruple champion. With this win, he took his points tally to 322. Only Ferrai’s Fernando Alonso could have kept the championship alive but he could not get a single point by finishing a distant 11th.
Ever since the Formula One world arrived in India, Vettel has dominated everything from dominating practice sessions to winning all three Poles and races.
Only two drivers before Vettel have won four straight titles — Juan Manuel Fangio from Argentina and German great Michael Schumacher. Frenchman Alain Prost is another driver who has won four titles but he did not win those in a row and Vettel is now youngest quadruple champion at the age 26.
It was Vettel’s sixth win in a row and the affable German now has the record of nine consecutive wins in sight with three races to go in the season.
Italian Alberto Ascari had established the astonishing nine-win record in 1952-53.
Felipe Massa was fourth, followed by McLaren drivers Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikonnen, who was in podium contention till the last 10 laps, faded to seventh, followed by home team Sahara Force India’s Paul di Resta and Sutil. Daniel Ricciardo took the last available point from Indian Grand Prix, which is missing on the calendar in 2014.
It was a great result for home team as they enjoyed their first double points finish since the British Grand prix to consolidate their sixth position. The team earned six points to take the tally to 68, which is 23 ahead of Sauber, who failed to earn a point.
In lap 29, Vettel got ahead of the pack when Webber pitted and just after one lap he was comfortably ahead by 11 seconds. Vettel was uncatchable after that as he build a 25-second lead over Kimi Raikkonen.
Earlier, Massa made a great start by getting past both the Mercedes cars to get behind Vettel. Fernando Alonso, who needed a strong race to keep the championship alive, clipped Jenson Button, breaking his Ferrari’s nose.
Vettel too pitted early for changing tyres from soft to mediums and now Massa was leading the race, followed by Rosberg and his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. Webber soon was to his original fourth after making a move on Kimi Raikkonen in lap six.
Vettel who joined 17th, worked his way up to fourthth by lap 12 as he passed Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean but the gap with the race leader Webber was more than 12 seconds.
Sutil was holding on to his fifth strongly, behind Daniel Ricciardo and ahead of Massa but the German had not pitted by then.
Vettel was going fast and fast and passed Sergio Perez in lap 21 to be behind Webber, who was to take his first pit stop. It was business as usual as Vettel took lead in lap 29.
Behind him, Raikkenon comfortably passed Sutil to take third in lap 37 and the Force India driver was the only one who had not pitted as yet. Sutil finally went to pitlane, opted for soft tyres and joined ninth, just ahead of teammate Paul di Resta.
The last five laps,, saw an exciting battle among Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Perez.