Skip to content

Split in strategies to threaten Vettel’s dominance?

Oct 26, 2013, 6:42 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of India - Qualifying Getty Images

He may have romped to pole position in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix today, but Sebastian Vettel’s all-conquering record at the race could be at threat thanks to a variety of strategies that could be used on Sunday.

Following practice on Friday, many of the teams and drivers expressed their frustration with Pirelli’s tire allocation for the race in India, with the soft compound lasting for only a few laps before blistering and becoming unusable. However, Paul Hembery defended the Italian supplier’s decision, believing that it would spice up the racing and prevent the somewhat mundane one stop race that we saw in last year’s Indian Grand Prix.

However, the decision did have a knock-on effect in qualifying today. Even in Q1, it was clear that the majority of the field had to set a time on the option tire in order to be sure of a place in the second session. However, Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean both risked running on the medium compound so they could save a set of softs. Vettel’s searing pace meant that he was never really at risk and finished a comfortable eleventh, but Grosjean was less fortunate. The Frenchman dropped out in Q1 because of the strategy call, exclaiming: “No way!” when he heard that he had not made it through.

Come the final session though, there was a fair argument for using the harder tire. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Jenson Button all took on the white-ringed medium compound, effectively throwing in the towel in the fight for pole given Vettel’s pace in the previous two sessions. The German driver opted for the soft tire, immediately going 1.7 seconds quicker than Alonso with his first time, signalling to the rest of the top ten that resistance was futile: pole position was his and his alone.

However, Webber managed to qualify a respectable P4 on the medium tire ahead of three soft runners and just a tenth behind Lewis Hamilton who also ran on the option compound. The Australian driver can now go far deeper into the race than his teammate, which also means that Vettel’s record of leading every single lap at the Indian Grand Prix is likely to come to an end. For Webber, it will be about ‘sticking with’ the front-runners on the slower tire and then trying to lay down a competitive pace on the mediums before his first stop. Just as Vettel and Button did in China, the plan will be to take on the softs at the final stop (the tire equivalent of a ‘splash and dash’) before blitzing the medium runners at the last possible point. He may be fourth on the grid, but Mark Webber is very well placed to claim his first win of the season.

Fernando Alonso’s win in China was an example of how clever strategy can pay dividends, and he too will also be happy to be starting on the prime tire. However, P8 is not the result he would have been wanting, leaving the Spaniard with a great deal of work to do on Sunday. That said, there have been few races this season where he hasn’t faced an uphill struggle during the race, but once again, his strategy could see him come into the picture if he can shadow Webber and stick with the Red Bull throughout the race.

Vettel may be keen on sewing up the championship with a win in India, but should the German driver come under threat in the later stages of the race, it would come as little surprise to see Red Bull inform him of a problem (be it fact or fiction) and settle for a podium finish that would clinch him a fourth world title. However, with a variety of strategies available to all of the teams, we could be in for a fascinating race in India tomorrow.

Latest Posts
  1. Drivers ponder why cars didn’t go airborne during the Indianapolis 500

    May 25, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power

    Runner-up Will Power said it’s as simple as making the cars slower.

  2. Juan Pablo Montoya feted by peers worldwide for Indy win

    May 25, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Juan Pablo Montoya Juan Pablo Montoya

    After his second triumph in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, he is ovewhelmed by congratulatory messages.

  3. Montoya’s Indianapolis 500 win adds another storied chapter to the Roger Penske-Chip Ganassi rivalry

    May 25, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT

    Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske

    They are the only car owners to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season.

  4. WSR: Jaafar seizes championship lead with Monaco win

    May 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    The Mercedes-affiliated youngster clinches his first win of the season around the legendary streets of Monaco.

  5. WRC: Latvala claims first win of 2015 at Rally Portugal

    May 25, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    PORTO, PORTUGAL - MAY 24:
Jari Matti Latvala of Finland and Mikka Anttila of Finland compete in their Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen Polo R WRC during Day Three of the WRC Portugal on May 24, 2015 in Porto, Portugal.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After a miserable run of form, Latvala finally climbs to the top step of the podium with a narrow win over Sebastien Ogier in Portugal.

  6. Indy 500 results: Andretti P6 in tough day for team; Hildebrand leads one-offs

    May 25, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MAindy500 Getty Images

    Andretti ends sixth, best of the day for the defending Indy 500-winning team, while Hildebrand leads the one-off drivers.

  7. Grosjean hopes Verstappen learns from Monaco crash

    May 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Lotus F1 Team's French driver  Romain Grosjean  drives at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 24, 2015, during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Running inside the top ten, Grosjean’s hopes of points were dashed on Sunday in Monaco when Max Verstappen crashed into him.

  8. Bell: “A wild Indy 500 without the finish we desired”

    May 25, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    Photo: DRR IndyCar Photo: DRR IndyCar

    Townsend Bell’s final blog for the Indianapolis 500 touches on family, meeting Jeff Gordon, and a crazy view from the driver’s seat.

  9. Raikkonen frustrated by poor qualifying form in 2015

    May 25, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    xxxx during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    A sixth-place finish in Monaco disappoints Raikkonen, but he lays blame with his poor qualifying form.

  10. Pagenaud’s stellar month and best ever Indy 500 race to date ends P10

    May 25, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT

    PagsIndy500Final Getty Images

    One of Simon Pagenaud’s best oval races to date ends P10 after running top three most of race.

  11. Rosberg joins Hill, Prost and Senna as Monaco three-peat winners after gifted victory

    May 25, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme after winning the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The win may have come by accident, but Rosberg etched his place in F1 history on Sunday.

  12. Kvyat scores career-best result in Monaco after Ricciardo honors in-race agreement

    May 25, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24:  Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Red Bull boys finish fourth and fifth in Monaco to give the team something to smile about after a tough start to the season.

  13. Ryan: Juan Pablo Montoya comes full circle at Indianapolis

    May 24, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT

    150524-Juan-Pablo-Montoya Getty Images

    In his second win at the Brickyard, the Team Penske driver delivered a performance that embodies his style.

  14. Rahal once again leads Honda’s charge, banking another top-five in Indy 500

    May 24, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT

    RahalIMSp5 Getty Images

    Once again in 2015, it’s Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing best of Honda’s brigade.

  15. Dixon leads most laps in Indy 500, 84, but ends unrepresentative fourth

    May 24, 2015, 7:12 PM EDT

    DixonIMSStop Getty Images

    A good, but not great day, occurs for Indianapolis 500 polesitter Scott Dixon.

  16. Kimball seizes his opportunity, ends third in Indy 500

    May 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT

    CK*3 Getty Images

    Kimball drives from 14th to third, a career-best in the Indianapolis 500.

  17. Montoya’s Indy 500 win extends his IndyCar points lead

    May 24, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    150524-Montoya Getty Images

    Montoya extends IndyCar points lead after Indianapolis 500.