Last year, at the Buddh International Circuit, Sebastian Vettel had a perfect weekend, the one that any professional driver would aspire for.
The Red Bull driver had managed to pull off what in the Formula One parlance is known as Grand Chelem — winning the pole position, leading right through the race, posting the fastest lap and taking the chequered flag. The inaugural Grand Prix of India couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“It was a great weekend last year, great crowds and wonderful atmosphere. Hopefully, we can have a result like the one we had last year,” said Vettel in an interview to a select group of journalists.
“This time, it will be different. We’re having different tyres and so we expect a new challenge this year.”
Considering the way the 2012 season has gone, you can’t fault Vettel for holding the cards close to his chest.
“This year races have gone up and down for most teams. It was difficult to predict which the races would go and who would win,” he explained.
“We saw Mercedes (Nico Rosberg) win the Chinese Grand Prix, but were off the pace in other races and are struggling to hit the mark. Same is the case with Williams (Pastor Maldonado) who won in Spain. After the one victory the team has struggled in most other races.
“McLaren started well, but began to falter later on; we did poorly in the first half before we started winning....
“These things are hard to explain and all we can say is that it has been a highly competitive year,” Vettel said.
The German is happy with the fact that he has taken the lead in the championship, but he is guarded. “Victories in the last three races have helped us. It’s a good position to be in now rather than what we were before the Singapore Grand Prix. We should now focus on doing well in the next couple of races and remaining where we are now,” Vettel said.
So, being the one to beat, is he really happy now?
“No, I don’t look at it that way. The most important thing now is to do well, finish races in good positions and score enough points. That’s what matters,” Vettel said.
As for the challenge from Ferrari and Alonso, Vettel said, “It’s better we focus on ourselves rather than on what others will do to us. We have to look after ourselves rather than worry about others,” he said peremptorily.
Vettel, however, said that with Alonso breathing down his neck, he wasn’t feeling comfortable one whit. “We are in a good position no doubt, but we can’t take it easy,” he said.