Sebastian Vettel moved within sight of becoming the youngest triple world champion in Formula One history yesterday when he cruised to his fourth consecutive victory with an outstanding, dominant triumph in the Indian Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old German, winner of the title in 2010 and 2011, delivered the 26th win of his career in utterly convincing fashion, leading the 60-laps race from start to finish in his Red Bull car.
His triumph enlarged his lead in the drivers championship from six points to 13 with three races remaining in Abu Dhabi next week, then the United States and the season-finale in Brazil next month. On a day of heat and dust at the shimmering, state-of-the-art Buddh International Circuit, Vettel overcame not only the determination of nearest rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, but also a threatening technical issue in the closing stages when parts of the floor of his car scraped along the circuit.
This contact, in parts of the track, raised sparks both literally and metaphorically as rival teams considered the condition of the Red Bull car and any possible contravention of strict technical rules.
Alonso, with superior straight line speed in his Ferrari, was unable to do better than climb from fifth on the grid to second and finished 9.4 seconds behind Vettel.
It was Vettel’s 26th win and he revelled in his familiar trick of standing atop his car to milk the applause from a rapturous crowd.
After an exultant celebration on the victory podium, in front of many of the 65,000 spectators, he added: “It has been incredible. To come here both years, get the pole and win the race is fantastic. It is a very special Grand Prix and I really like this circuit.”
Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber finished third, the Australian fending off a strong challenge from Lewis Hamilton.