Sebastian Vettel led from start to finish in the first Indian Grand Prix to win in imperious style and notch up his eleventh victory of the season. The Red Bull driver never yielded the race lead, even during pit stops. And in the closing stage of the race, he capped it all by posting a couple of fastest laps, eventually crossing the line 8.4 seconds ahead of Jenson Button, the only other man on the track who came close to matching the world champion. Every time that Button looked as if he might be launching an attack, Vettel responded in withering fashion.
Alonso beats Webber
It was a much tighter scrap in the contest for the remaining podium spot between Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, with the Spanish driver ultimately having the upper hand. Webber had held on to third place for most of the race but was passed by Alonso on the last round of pit stops. The Ferrari man seemed to have fewer problems with the hard tyres than his Australian opponent. Despite a fight-back by Webber towards the end, Alonso held on.
Much to the delight of Mercedes, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag in the wake of the four front-runners. Schumacher had another strong start and then used skilful tactics to move up the field. This eventually led to a duel with team-mate Rosberg, in which the veteran prevailed but the younger driver also took comfort from achieving his target of a Top 6 finish. The Mercedes duo benefited from yet another contretemps between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa.
The two were vying for fifth on lap 24 when Hamilton tried to overtake on the inside. Massa shut the door on him, even though the McLaren man was already alongside. So the inevitable happened and there was a collision. Massa was spun round while Hamilton sustained damage to his front wing. Over the team radio, Hamilton claimed that the Brazilian had turned into him. The stewards agreed and hit Massa with a drive-through penalty. Shortly after, the Ferrari driver complained of gearbox problems, and on lap 34 he performed a repeat of his accident in qualifying, only this time he bounced over the kerb with his left front wheel and destroyed a track rod.
The Brazilian walked back to the pits in furious mood, while Hamilton continued his race to finish seventh. The last three points-scoring positions were keenly contested. Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi was in with a real chance until his engine packed in. Team-mate Jaime Alguersuari brought in the points for Toro Rosso with a P8 finish, Adrian Sutil followed him over the line in ninth and Sergio Perez was able to salvage a single point for Sauber. Joining Massa and Buemi as DNFs on the day were Pastor Maldonado with gearbox failure plus Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi who retired after a collision at the start.