Super Seb’s superb four

Feeling on top of the world...Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, lifted by Nico Rosberg (in white) of Mercedes and Romain Grosjean of Lotus, celebrates on the podium after winning the Indian Grand Prix for the third successive year. Extreme left is the Red Bull chief designer Adrian Newey.-RAJEEV BHATT Feeling on top of the world...Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, lifted by Nico Rosberg (in white) of Mercedes and Romain Grosjean of Lotus, celebrates on the podium after winning the Indian Grand Prix for the third successive year. Extreme left is the Red Bull chief designer Adrian Newey.

The much-anticipated coronation of Sebastian Vettel (as the World champion) and Red Bull (as the World constructors’ champion) was the highlight of the third Indian Grand Prix, writes Y. B. Sarangi.

In no time, the Red Bull camp switched to the winning colours. As soon as Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull clinched a rare quadruple double World titles, the celebrating team members donned T-shirts flashing ‘IVettel’ and ‘2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 World Champion Red Bull.’

The much-anticipated coronation of Vettel (as the World champion) and Red Bull (as the World constructors’ champion) was the highlight of the third Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, on October 27.

Statistics bow to the legend of Vettel. The 26-year-old German once again showcased his invincibility at the BIC to win his 10th race (and sixth in a row) of the season and 36th of his career and become the youngest driver to claim four world titles. He is only the third driver after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win four consecutive World Championships. Alain Prost too won four titles but not in a row.

A strong car coupled with Vettel’s killer instinct was the ultimate winning combination for Red Bull. Team principal Christian Horner paid a befitting tribute to the champion when he said, “It would not have been possible to win four titles without Sebastian.

“He is only 26 and a four-time World Champion. He has not done it by accident.”

Vettel’s supremacy is the result of his passion to excel. Even though he needed to finish only in the top five to make sure of his fourth world title, he did not take his foot off the pedal. When the behaviour of the softs kept everyone guessing, Vettel surged ahead because of his team’s meticulous planning and his superb execution.

Vettel, starting from pole position, took everyone by surprise by pitting in the second lap. By doing so, he “undercut” his direct rivals on the same strategy. He improved from 17th in the third lap to reach the second spot on lap 21, having opened up a 12.5s lead over front-runner and team-mate Mark Webber.

As Webber pitted in the 28th lap, Vettel was back in the lead. Even though he took his second pit stop on 31st, he was able to widen the gap further over others and win the race in style.

In fact, Vettel relied on the inputs provided by the tyre supplier Pirelli (which had suggested a two-stop strategy with a start on the soft and change to medium on lap two before the final stint on medium from lap 28) and reaped the benefits. This also gave an idea as to why he had produced good results on Pirelli tyres.

“Sebastian knew today that the stop was going to be aggressive and he would come out from the back of the herd and go through the traffic and he would have to be decisive in the way he did that and he did that. He knew that he had to restrict the gap with the leader to under 22 seconds,” Horner pointed out.

“I crossed the line, I was empty,” said an ecstatic Vettel, who displayed his emotions by performing a donut celebration (spinning his car in circles) in front of the grandstand. He then scaled the sidewall to hurl his gloves into the crowd.

The wild celebrations, a breach in the eyes of race stewards, cost him €25,000 in fine.

Webber withdrew from the race on the 40th lap owing to alternator failure.

Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, who came home behind Vettel, drove well to earn the first podium for his team after four races. With Lewis Hamilton (6th), Rosberg helped the Silver Arrows (313) overtake Ferrari (309) in the constructors’ standings.

Ferrari suffered as Fernando Alonso, Vettel’s main challenger, came in contact with Jenson Button on the first lap and damaged the nose of his car. He dropped down to 20th after he pitted to replace the nose and change his tyres. The Spaniard managed to finish 11th.

Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa, who led the race for a few laps, finished fourth.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, considered a future star, underlined his talent with a superb drive. Starting from 17th on the grid, the Frenchman used an aggressive one-stop strategy to record his fifth podium of the season.

Sahara Force India was delighted to gather points after two dry races as both its drivers finished in the top 10. The team has firmed itself up in the sixth position.

With the Indian Grand Prix scheduled to take a break in 2014, the circuit was abuzz with speculations about the future of the event. The race promoter, Jaypee Sports International, which had signed a five-year (five races) agreement with the Formula One Management, clarified that the Indian Grand Prix would return in 2015.

Jaypee said it was committed to hosting all the five races and was eager to sign another five-year contract with the FOM.