• Indian Grand Prix

Vettel becomes a four-time champ with victory

ESPN Staff
October 27, 2013
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Sebastian Vettel clinched his fourth consecutive drivers' championship with a dominant victory at the Indian Grand Prix, while Red Bull claimed its fourth constructors' crown.

It was Vettel's sixth win in a row and among his most dominant as his only threat came from a few gremlins working mischief under the engine cover. Team-mate Mark Webber had to retire with alternator issues on lap 40, but despite a warning to stop using his drinks bottle and not to chase the fastest lap, Vettel still cruised home 29.8s ahead of his closest rival, Nico Rosberg.

Vettel's main threat in the race was expected to be team-mate Webber, but an aggressive strategy helped Vettel negate any potential disadvantage he had when starting on the soft tyres. Having pit at the end of the second lap of the race, Vettel carved through the field and was swiftly running fourth behind Webber, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo - with all three having started on the medium tyre.

So much, so young

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  • Think back to what you had achieved at the age of 26, or if you're not 26 yet, think realistically about what you hope to achieve by that age. Although I'm sure there are several utterly brilliant individuals reading this website, it's unlikely that many will have risen to the top of their chosen field and dominated it for four consecutive years by that age. Yet that is exactly what Sebastian Vettel achieved in India on Sunday and if that doesn't make him one of the greats, it's hard to imagine what does.

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Another potential threat on the medium tyre - Fernando Alonso - had a poor start and lost part of his front wing in contact with Webber before also hitting Jenson Button on the first lap. Both Alonso and Button had to pit early as a result and were consigned to tough races at the back of the field.

After his early success Vettel was never realistically threatened, but after Webber's retirement from second place on lap 40 Red Bull turned down all electronic devices on Vettel's car in order to try and avoid a repeat. Having crossed the line to secure his fourth title, Vettel returned to the grid instead of pulling in to the pits and proceeded to carry out some doughnuts in celebration in front of the main grandstand, before jumping out of the car and throwing his gloves in to the crowd.

Behind Vettel, the podium result was less clear with a number of cars in the mix as various strategies played out late on. While Rosberg eventually finished in a comfortable second place, Romain Grosjean drove from 17th on the grid to third on the podium with a hugely-impressive one-stop strategy, surviving a late scrap with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Grosjean - on worn tyres with Ferrari's Felipe Massa close behind - closed in rapidly on Raikkonen as his team-mate struggled on even older tyres, but Raikkonen defended hard and forced Grosjean off the track at Turn 4 before eventually yielding later in the lap. Lotus later admitted it was "disappointed" with Raikkonen's driving, but Grosjean managed to hold on after completing 47 laps on the medium tyre.

Massa took fifth after a strong start had left him in second place, ahead of McLaren's Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with his tyres, and Raikkonen, who made a last-minute pit stop before taking fastest lap. Perez benefited from Raikkonen's struggles to pass both the Lotus and Hamilton in one go on the back straight three laps from the end, but was too far behind Massa to threaten the Ferrari.

Paul di Resta took his first points since Silverstone in eighth place ahead of Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil in ninth and Daniel Ricciardo in tenth. Alonso was the only man capable of stopping Vettel winning the title on Sunday but he struggled to 11th after losing part of his front wing against Webber on the opening lap, turning his race into a three-stopper.

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