Sebastian Vettel wrapped up more history on Sunday by winning the Indian Grand Prix and his fourth straight driver's championship in Formula 1. Michael Schumacher won five in a row from 2000 to 2004 and Juan Manuel Fangio won four in a row from 1954 to 1957 as the only other drivers in Formula 1 history to win at least four consecutive titles.
Vettel dominated especially after his Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber retired from the race. Vettel won by 29.823 seconds over Mercedes' Nico Rosberg. Romain Grosjean had a great race and moved from 17th on the grid to finish on the podium in third for Lotus.
"It's one of these moments you wish to say so many things but you can't," Vettel said. "Phenomenal season. I think the spirit inside the team is so strong. It gives me so much power. It's a pleasure to jump in the car."
The win was the 36th of the only 26-year-old German's career. That has him fourth on the all-time list behind only Michael Schumacher's 91, Alian Prost's 51, and Ayrton Senna's 41. It was Vettel's sixth straight win this season and tenth overall in 2013.
Red Bull Racing also clinched its fourth straight constructor's championship behind the strength of Vettel.
The Indian Grand Prix began with Vettel on the pole and needing only to finish fifth or better to clinch the title. Fernando Alonso started eighth and needed to have a great result and a down race from Vettel to push the championship another week. That all went downhill on lap 1.
In Turn 1 Mark Webber made contact into the right-rear of Kimi Raikkonen and then slowed a bit where Alonso ran into the back of him and damaged his wing. Later on lap 1 Alonso made contact into the right-rear tire of Jenson Button. Alonso would make a pit stop on lap 2 to change the wing and he never recovered in the race. He finished out of the points in 11th.
Sebastian Vettel meanwhile opened a huge lead in one lap and led over Felipe Massa by 2.4 seconds. Vettel pitted on lap 2 to get off the soft tire compound and onto the mediums. That gave the lead to Massa with Nico Rosberg in second. Rosberg pitted on lap 7 and Massa on lap 8 which moved Mark Webber to the lead. He had started the race on the medium tires.
By lap 13 of 60 Vettel had driven back to third and was only behind Webber and Sergio Perez who both had not stopped yet. On lap 21 Vettel moved to second place past Perez. Nico Rosberg pitted on lap 27 for his second stop of the race and Webber pitted from the lead on lap 28 for his first stop and put on the soft tires and Sergio Perez did the same.
That exchange put Vettel in the lead but he pitted on lap 31 for his second stop. He came out of the pits in second only behind Webber as the two Red Bull cars were the class of the field. Webber would pit on lap 32 to get back onto the medium compound and when he did Vettel took the lead. Daniel Ricciardo pitted on lap 33 for his first stop of the race which put Webber back into second.
Vettel looked to have the race in hand with Webber as the only driver that seemed like he might be able to challenge but on lap 40 Mark Webber was told to pull off the track due to an alternator issue on his car. That put the fear into Vettel's team but as has proved true so many times the issues that plagued Webber never got to Vettel's Red Bull.
As Vettel cruised to victory the battle was on for the final two podium positions in the closing laps. Nico Rosberg passed Kimi Raikkonen on lap 52 to move to second place. Nico Hulkenberg then retired from the race while in the top ten on lap 55 when his Sauber failed. On lap 56 Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa both passed Raikkonen to move into third and fourth. Then on lap 58 Sergio Perez passed both Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen to move into fifth.
The finishing order was Vettel in first for Red Bull Racing, Nico Rosberg second for Mercedes, Romain Grosjean third for Lotus, Felipe Massa fourth for Ferrari, and Sergio Perez had his best finish of the season in fifth for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton was sixth for Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen seventh for Lotus, Paul Di Resta eighth for Force India, Adrian Sutil ninth for Force India, and Daniel Ricciardo grabbed the final point for Toro Rosso in tenth.
Fernando Alonso was a disappointing 11th along with Jenson Button who was 14th.
Vettel clinched the championship after 16 of the 19 Grand Prix races. He has 322 points. Fernando Alonso is second 115 back. Kimi Raikkonen is 24 points further behind in third. Lewis Hamilton is fourth, Mark Webber fifth, Nico Rosberg sixth, Romain Grosjean seventh, and Felipe Massa eighth.
Red Bull Racing has won its fourth straight constructor's title. They sit at 470 points. Mercedes moved into second after India with 313 points. Ferrari dropped to third with 309 and Lotus is fourth with 285.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is next up on the scheduled next weekend with the race on Sunday, November 3rd.
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- Sebastian Vettel Wins Pole for Indian Grand Prix; Set to Win Fourth Title
- Sebastian Vettel Wins Japanese Grand Prix for Fifth Straight Win and Ninth of the Season
- Sebastian Vettel Crushes Competition to Win the Singapore Grand Prix
- Sebastian Vettel Wins His First German Grand Prix by Holding Off Kimi Raikkonen’s Charge
- Sebastian Vettel Once Again Dominates En Route to Winning the Italian Grand Prix
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