It will be a close race: Vettel

STRUGGLING TO KEEP PACE: Fernando Alonso needs improvements in his team's cars to catch-up with the speeding Red Bulls. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

So far, the way Sebastian Vettel has dominated the track at the Buddh International Circuit in two visits, it is difficult to visualise anyone denying the Red Bull driver a repeat success at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Vettel, aiming to complete a hat-trick of world titles this season, overcame the hiccups of the first qualifying round and grabbed his fifth pole of the season. The Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa filled the fifth and sixth slots on the grid. This race-day starting order also raised visions of another Red Bull celebration on Sunday. After all, by winning the last three races, Vettel had turned a 42-point deficit over Alonso to a six-point lead in their race to the World title.

Vettel described the qualifying results as “obviously good” but quickly added, “Tomorrow is the main exercise with the race. I think the McLarens are very quick, went very quick in the long run yesterday as well as the Ferraris. So I think it will be a close race. In terms of strategy, it could be a surprise.”

Asked to look at the prospects of winning another world title, Vettel said, “I think, we have a lot of races to go, important races, but the best chance of doing well is to focus on every single step.”

Webber, who finished second on the grid for the fourth time this season, was not entirely happy with the race but expressed surprise over coming second.

“For sure, I didn’t have the cleanest run to the start/finish line so that was disappointing. But I’m driving the car. I did my best. I was surprised to end up second, to be honest but I’ll take that.”

Hamilton, obviously happy with his second-time third on the grid this season, praised the track.

Challenging track

“I think this track is incredibly challenging for all of us. The more and more we drive it, the more and more we realise that and that’s what makes it a great circuit.”

Later, Alonso made light of Ferrari being placed behind Red Bull and McLaren by saying, “It is our normal position. It is not easy to fight, especially on a Saturday, but on Sunday we are normally more competitive. Fifth is my position and a good start-position for tomorrow.”

He also chose to acknowledge the contribution of Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey in the success streak of its drivers.

“At the moment, we are not fighting against Sebastian only. We are fighting against Newey,” said Alonso pointing to the fact that the Red Bulls had finished first or second in the last four races. “In the remaining races, we will do well once we get the big parts for our car. I am sure we will not only fight for the title but also win it. Tomorrow, we need to overtake McLaren as soon as possible and put pressure on Red Bull to commit mistakes – a pit-stop problem, reliability or something.”

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 4:44:27 AM |

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