For all his measured wins and clinical domination of the sport this year, Sebastian Vettel spontaneously celebrated his fourth championship on Sunday as if it were unexpected or his first. To start off, he ignored the post-race call to head straight to parc fermé, instead proceeding to do some donuts on the main straight. He then got down on his knees and bowed to his RB9. Afterwards, he ran dazedly around, lobbed his gloves to the people in the grandstands, then clambered over the fencing and stumbled into the pit complex.
Well over an hour later, he was still looking overwhelmed and rattling off disjointed answers in interviews. Or maybe he was just drunk at that point, since he'd been taking swigs of champagne during the sit-down press conference. Comparisons to Senna and Schumacher had him in tears. On the flip side, he made nothing of the reprimand accorded to him by the stewards for his celebratory donuts, in the same way the rest of the Red Bull team couldn't be bothered to make a fuss over the 25,000-euro fine that came with the reprimand--they were too busy drinking bubbly and donning commemorative shirts. Besides, 25,000 euros for a whole bunch of fantastic images that could well define a man's racing career, as well as this era of Formula 1, is money well spent.
Now, for the results of our predictions.
1. Romain Grosjean will best both Mercs on qualifying, and Ferrari will retain its lead over the German squad in the team standings. The Mercs took P2 and P3 with Nico Rosberg being the faster driver by seven-hundredths of a second. And RoGro? He was all the way down on P17 after failing to do a Seb--that is, using the medium compound to get out of Q1 while the rest of the field ran on softs. So much for trying to be heroic.
Meanwhile, the Ferraris lined up P5 and P8 with Felipe Massa's soft-tire run producing a faster time than Fernando Alonso's attempt on the mediums. Come Sunday, Fernando got a couple of bangs going into the first corner on the first lap. He dropped down to the tail end of the field after pitting for a new nose, and could only recover to 11th by the end of 60 laps--which meant he did not score any points. The Silver Arrows therefore overtook the Prancing Horses in the team standings, 313 to 309.
2. No Pirelli issues on race day. And Pirelli must have heard we're betting on this, because it issued usage guidelines for both compounds before the race. The tiremaker recommended a maximum of 15 laps for the softs, and a maximum of 35 laps for the mediums. While most teams took the advice, Lotus and Force India decided to do something different since those usage figures weren't mandatory anyway. Grosjean's and Adrian Sutil's medium-tire stint lasted over 40 laps, while Kimi Raikkonen's run on the same compound stretched over 50 laps. And nothing happened, so that's one point for us.
3. A tale of opposing fortunes: Nico Hulkenberg will score; Paul di Resta will finish outside of the top 10. A tale of opposing fortunes indeed, but it turned out the opposite of what we'd predicted, too. Di Resta managed to complete the race and cross the line eighth despite nursing an upset stomach (Delhi belly, too much curry?) throughout the weekend. He got four points for his efforts. Nico Hulkenberg, on the other hand, had been set to finish in the top 10 until he hit car trouble with a handful laps to go. Zero points for him and for us.
4. Red Bull will clinch the constructors' title for the fourth year running. Done and dusted, although you have to feel for Mark Webber, who once again retired with an alternator problem. He'd been confident of his chances going into the race as well, being the highest-placed among the four medium-tire qualifiers in the top 10. Unfortunately, Sebastian's progress through the field after an early pit stop (he ditched his soft tires for mediums at the end of lap 2) had a Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea quality to it. Webber was already over 10 seconds behind Seb after their final pit stops, so he couldn't have challenged for the win anyway, even if he did not retire.
5. The race will see Vettel as Sebastian the Fourth--and Grosjean as a grand-prix winner. Half a point only, but Grosjean's climb from P17 to P3--something on which he "would not have bet a peanut" before the race--is proof that we're looking at a potential star of the future. It's also clear he's now the favored son at Lotus: When Kimi, running on older tires, defended too aggressively against Grosjean near the end of the race, the team got on the radio and told the Finn to "get out of the f*cking way." To which Kimi retorted, "don't shout," followed by an F-bomb of his own and a few more mumbles. We doubt there will be special-edition shirts featuring those colorful quotes.
Total score: 2.5 out of 5
Photos from Infiniti Red Bull Racing
|IND||Starting grid||Race results|
|Pos||Driver (Team)||Quali (Start Tire)||Driver (Team)||Time/Gap|
|1||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1:24.119 (S)||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1hr 31:12.187|
|2||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||1:24.871, +0.752 (S)||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||+29.823|
|3||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:24.941, +0.822 (S)||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||+39.892|
|4||M. Webber (Red Bull)||1:25.047, +0.928 (M)||F. Massa (Ferrari)||+41.692|
|5||F. Massa (Ferrari)||1:25.201, +1.082 (S)||S. Perez (McLaren)||+43.829|
|6||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||1:25.248, +1.129 (S)||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||+52.475|
|7||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:25.334, +1.215 (S)||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||+1:07.988|
|8||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||1:25.826, +1.707 (M)||P. di Resta (Force India)||+1:12.868|
|9||S. Perez (McLaren)||1:26.153, +2.034 (M)||A. Sutil (Force India)||+1:14.734|
|10||J. Button (McLaren)||1:26.487, +2.368 (M)||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||+1:16.237|
|11||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:25.519, +1.400 (M)||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||+1:18.297|
|12||P. di Resta (Force India)||1:25.711, +1.592 (M)||P. Maldonado (Williams)||+1:18.951|
|13||A. Sutil (Force India)||1:25.740, +1.621 (M)||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||+1 lap|
|14||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:25.798, +1.679 (S)||J. Button (McLaren)||+1 lap|
|15||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:26.134, +2.015 (M)||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||+1 lap|
|16||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||1:26.336, +2.217 (M)||V. Bottas (Williams)||+1 lap|
|17||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||1:26.577, +2.458 (S)||M. Chilton (Marussia)||+2 laps|
|18||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:26.842, +2.753 (S)||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||+2 laps|
|19||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:26.970, +2.851 (S)||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||retired|
|20||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:27.105, +2.986 (S)||M. Webber (Red Bull)||retired|
|21||C. Pic (Caterham)||1:27.487, +3.368 (S)||C. Pic (Caterham)||retired|
|22||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:28.138, +4.019 (M)||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||retired|
Notes: M—medium compound; S—soft compound. Listed qualifying laps 17-22 set in Q1; 11-16 in Q2; and 1-10 in Q3
|1||S. Vettel||322||Red Bull||470|
|6||N. Rosberg||144||Force India||68|
|8||F. Massa||102||Toro Rosso||32|
|10||P. di Resta||40||Marussia||0|
|21||G. van der Garde||0|