Indian GP: Sebastian Vettel wins ahead of Alonso to extend lead
Sebastian Vettel dominated the Indian Grand Prix to take a fourth win in a row and extend his championship lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
The Red Bull driver is 13 points clear of the Spaniard, who was second ahead of Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber.
The Australian was holding off Alonso when he suffered a Kers power-boost problem and the Ferrari swept by.
Lewis Hamilton closed on Webber but had to settle for fourth ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
Indian GP top 10
1 Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull 1:31:10.744
2 Fernando Alonso - Ferrari +00:09.437
3 Mark Webber - Red Bull +00:13.217
4 Lewis Hamilton - McLaren +00:13.909
5 Jenson Button - McLaren +00:26.266
6 Felipe Massa - Ferrari +00:44.674
7 Kimi Raikkonen - Lotus +00:45.227
8 Nico Hulkenberg - Force India +00:54.998
9 Romain Grosjean - Lotus +00:56.103
10 Bruno Senna - Williams +01:14.975
Vettel is a strong favourite for the title, with Red Bull in imperious form and 75 points available in the remaining races.
The German equalled the legendary Ayrton Senna's record of leading every lap of a race for three consecutive grands prix, set for McLaren in 1989. And Vettel won in India for the second straight year after dominating here in 2011.
"It has been an incredible two years for us here to get pole on Saturday and win the race on Sunday," said Vettel. "It's a very special grand prix, I really like the flow of this circuit. Sector one is a bit slow with long straights, but sector two and three is very nice."
Ferrari's Felipe Massa took sixth, closely followed throughout the race by Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen, who is now almost completely out of the title race, 67 points behind Vettel in third place overall.
Webber, in fourth place in the championship and 70 points adrift of Vettel, retains a mathematical chance but the championship battle is now effectively a fight between Vettel and Alonso.
On current form, it is hard to see how the Spaniard has any realistic chance of closing the gap and preventing Vettel and Red Bull making it three championships in a row.
"It's not easy at the moment to fight the Red Bull but we will never give up," Alonso said. "We lost points but this was more or less the plan this weekend; we were not fast enough to compete with them. We lost the minimum points and better races will come."
Indian GP facts
- Track temperature: 31C
- Air temperature: 29C
- Ave wind speed: 3.2 metres per second
- Humidity: 30%
- Fastest lap: J Button (lap 60): 1 min 28.203 secs
- Fastest Speeds:
- Sector 1: F Alonso 258kph (160mph)
- Sector 2 : F Alonso 244kph (152mph)
- Sector 3 : K Raikkonen 224kph (139mph)
- Speed Trap: J-E Vergne 322kph (200mph)
Vettel has now led every single lap of the last three races, after a series of technical upgrades to the Red Bull moved it onto a separate level from any other car.
Here at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, to the south-east of Delhi, Vettel aggressively fended off a challenge from Webber off the start line and controlled the race from there.
After a measured first 20 laps, during which he extended his lead over Webber to five seconds, the world champion suddenly cut loose with a series of laps 0.7 seconds faster than anyone else.
At this time, Alonso was beginning to close on Webber and threaten the Australian's second place.
The Spaniard moved up from fifth on the grid to third by lap four after some impressive racing between himself, Hamilton and Button on the opening lap.
They went three abreast into Turn Four on the opening lap, after Alonso had taken advantage of the duelling McLarens to close on them.
Hamilton and Button tried to go into Turn Four either side of the Ferrari and while Button hung on to third place, Alonso managed to stay ahead of Hamilton.
The Ferrari then passed Button on the fourth lap. Webber inched clear of Alonso to move second by lap 16 before the Ferrari driver began to come back at him.
Alonso made his sole pit stop on lap 29, a lap before Webber and was right on the Red Bull's tail when it emerged from its stop.
Webber began to suffer Kers problems from about lap 20 but he held Alonso off for the next 25 laps. But then he lost time behind two backmarkers and that put Alonso on to his tail. With no Kers, Webber was unable to defend and the Ferrari swept by into second place, grabbing an extra three points that could be crucial at the end of the season.
Vettel then appeared to hit some trouble, with the underside of his car - the area called the 'tea tray' under the drivers legs - starting to spark as it dragged on the ground.
Alonso was urged by his team to put pressure on him, but Vettel was able to stay in control until the end.
Webber was then left to fend off an attack from Hamilton, which he managed to do.
The final points positions were taken by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg in eighth place, just holding off the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Williams's Bruno Senna, fighting to save his drive, was 10th.
Indian Grand Prix 2012, day three
- Sunday, 28 October: Race highlights: 14:05-15:45 GMT, BBC One; repeated BBC Two 01:00-02:40 GMT