Double world champ Sebastian Vettel stormed to his fourth successive win of the year when he dominated the India Grand Prix. The win means the Red Bull ace has extended his lead in the title race to 13 points over Fernando Alonso, who powered his Ferrari to second.
Vettel, bidding to win the world championship for a third straight year and whose team-mate Mark Webber finished third, led from start-to-finish after starting from pole position.
Alonso, who had started from fifth in his Pirelli-shod Ferrari, gradually world his way past the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. The duo finished fourth and fifth respectively.
A resurgent Felipe Massa brought his Ferrari home sixth, albeit almost 45secs behind Vettel, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh in his Lotus.
The top 10 was rounded out by the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg — team-mate Paul di Resta was 12th — with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna’s Williams ninth and tenth.
Afterwards, Vettel explained he had no concerns about the problems which affected his car over the closing laps and led to a flurry of sparks appearing from beneath his car.
“I noticed the problem, I think it was when I got DRS from a backmarker pretty close to the end of the race,” Vettel, who also won the corresponding race 12 months ago, said.
“I didn’t feel anything with the balance and on the other laps. We need to analyse the problem, but it didn’t cost us or slow us down.
“I enjoyed the race a lot. It was crucial to open a gap in the first stint, to break DRS to Mark (Webber).
“It was quite close at Turn 1, I was able to get good exit out of Turn 3, then was able to open the gap, not just to Mark but also the cars behind.
“To think of the championship, this was a good step for us. We have seen for us how quickly things can change. This feels so fantastic and it is great to have a race come the way you want it to. I am proud and happy and enjoying it.
“That was today and we are focusing on Abu Dhabi next week. There is a lot more to come and we take things step by step.”
Alonso — who has been outscored 100 to 48 in the last four races by Vettel — remained defiant that he can overcome the 13-point gap over the final three grands prix.
“Nothing changed in one race,” the Spaniard said. “There are 75 points and we are 13 behind and we know we need to improve.
“We are not fast enough, especially on Saturday, but we can improve the situation in Abu Dhabi or USA.
“As we saw with Webber with the KERS problem, it can happen to Seb or it can happen to us, so I am optimistic.
“I think we need to bring some new parts to Abu Dhabi and hopefully improve a little bit the competitiveness of the car and get closer to Red Bulls on Saturday and hopefully Sunday as well.
“There are three races remaining and the championship is the main target. We need to recover some points. It would be nice to finish in front of Seb there and if we win even better. For that we need to make a step forward as at the moment we are not able to win.”
“I think Brazil will be quite good and hopefully I am going to be happy.”
Formula One India Grand Prix — Result:
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h31:10.744;
2. Alonso Ferrari +9.437;
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault +13.217;
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +13.909;
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes +26.266;
6. Massa Ferrari +44.674;
7. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault +45.227;
8. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +54.998;
9. Grosjean Lotus-Renault +56.103;
10. Senna Williams-Renault +1:14.975;
11. Rosberg Mercedes +1:21.694;
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes +1:22.815;
13. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1:26.064;
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari +1:26.495;
15. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap;
16. Maldonado Williams-Renault +1 lap;
17. Petrov Caterham-Renault +1 lap;
18. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault +1 lap;
19. Pic Marussia-Cosworth +1 lap;
20. Glock Marussia-Cosworth +2 laps;
21. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth +2 laps;
22. Schumacher Mercedes +5 laps.
Fastest lap: Button, 1:28.203
World Championship standings (After 17 of 20 races):
1. Vettel 240
2. Alonso 227
3. Raikkonen 173
4. Webber 167
5. Hamilton 165
6. Button 141
7. Rosberg 93
8. Grosjean 90
9. Massa 89
10. Perez 66
11. Kobayashi 50
12. Hulkenberg 49
13. Di Resta 44
14. Schumacher 43
15. Maldonado 33
16. Senna 26
17. Vergne 12
18. Ricciardo 9
1. Red Bull-Renault 407
2. Ferrari 316
3. McLaren-Mercedes 306
4. Lotus-Renault 263
5. Mercedes 136
6. Sauber-Ferrari 116
7. Force India-Mercedes 93
8. Williams-Renault 59
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 21
All photos copyright of Getty Images & Ferrari F1