Greater Noida, India - Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel appears 60 laps away from a fourth straight Formula One title after storming to his third pole in a row at the Indian Grand Prix on Saturday.
Vettel has led every lap on the Buddh International Circuit en route to his previous two victories there, topped all three practice sessions before dominating qualifying, and has won the last five season races.
The German’s only remaining title rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari had to settle for eighth on Sunday’s grid.
Vettel leads Alonso by 90 points and only requires a fifth-place finish in the 60-lap race to take the title with three races to spare if Alonso wins.
Michael Schumacher (seven overall) and Juan Manuel Fangio (five) are the only other drivers who have won four world titles in a row, while Alain Prost has four titles overall.
Only a major mishap can seemingly delay the title decision, as Vettel was flying again in qualifying en route to his seventh season pole and 43rd overall in a course record 1 minute 24.119 seconds for the 5.125 kilometres, ahead of Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (1:24.871) and Lewis Hamilton (1:24.941). Alonso clocked 1:25.826.
However, Vettel remained his modest self. The car has been great all weekend,” Vettel said. “It’s a great result for the team, we’ll see what the result is tomorrow.”
Vettel doesn’t necessarily have to win the race and strategy will be interesting because the top three are expected to pit early starting the race on soft tyres, while Vettel’s fourth-placed team-mate Mark Webber will start on slower but more durable mediums.
“The strategy is different. I think in the end, if everybody does his bit it probably doesn’t matter so much,” Vettel said.
Hamilton was surprised by Mercedes’ excellent showing and acknowledged the Red Bull superiority, but may have been slightly impeded by Vettel in his last fast lap. However he didn’t make too much of the incident, saying “we didn’t lose too much time.”
Romain Grosjean has to start from 17th on the grid as his Lotus team paid the price for a tyre gamble in the first of three qualifying rounds. Grosjean placed second in the last two races.
“We are all very disappointed,” the Frenchman Grosjean said. “Everyone went quicker than we thought.”