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Vettel sets record-breaking pace at Indian GP

Sebastian Vettel put himself on course to clinch a hat-trick of Indian Grand Prix wins, the German dominating practice to keep his session topping run going at the Buddh International circuit.

Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel during the first practice session at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida yesterday. Pic/AFP.

Vettel, who has topped every session at the track on the outskirts of Delhi stretching back to the third practice session in 2011, set a time of one minute 25.722, just under three-tenths of a second quicker than Webber’s best time of the afternoon, in a repeat of the morning session’s result.

Lotus third
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean followed the two Red Bulls in third ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, who had been sidelined by gearbox issues on his Ferrari in the morning fifth.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel
Star-turn: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel negotiates a turn during the first practice session at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida ahead of Sunday’s Indian GP yesterday. Pic/AFP.

Nico Rosberg set the sixth fastest time of the day ahead of the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus and McLaren drivers Sergio Perez and Jenson Button rounding out the top ten.

Unlike in the morning session, the cars took to the track straight away in the afternoon to complete their low-fuel qualifying runs, which is when the fastest times of the day were set.

The drivers then settled down to complete the longer runs in an effort to understand how the cars are likely to behave in race trim, with teams particularly keen to evaluate how Pirelli’s allocation of tyres, one step softer than a year ago, behaves on a heavy fuel load.
Perhaps ominously for rivals, not only did Vettel set a blistering time on his qualifying simulation, but the Red Bull driver looked quick and consistent on the long runs too, which bodes well for the soon-to-be four-time world champion to extend his already dominant winning streak to six straight races.

History beckons
The 26-year-old heads into Sunday’s race on the cusp of becoming the first driver in the history of the sport to clinch his first four titles in succession and, with a 90-point advantage over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with four races to go, all Vettel needs to seal the deal is a fifth place finish.

The second session was again short on drama, unlike at the last race in Japan, with the only notable incident Pastor Maldonado’s Williams shedding a wheel nut in a shower of sparks on track.

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