Scuderia Toro Rosso had finished in the points in the past three races, including getting both cars into the top ten in Korea a fortnight ago. Unfortunately, we were unable to make it four in a row here at the Buddh circuit outside New Delhi. We have come to expect some fairly exciting starts from our two young drivers, leading to that enjoyable green arrow on the TV pictures indicating they have shot up the order as soon as the lights go out at the start of the race. Today, it was not to be and, as is often the case, the opening moments of the Grand Prix conditioned its final outcome, 60 laps later. The final result for us: Ricciardo 13th, Vergne 15th.
Daniel was on the dirty side of the track and although there was nothing wrong with his getaway, he had to give way to Di Resta and then he got further delayed in the usual melee on the opening lap. However, with Schumacher having to pit with a puncture, Daniel still found himself in his grid position, fifteenth. Things were more serious for Jean-Eric, who found himself boxed in by cars on either side and in trying to find some space, he braked and ending up making contact with the back of Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes. The front wing of the Frenchman’s STR7 was damaged and he had to pit immediately to change it. Daniel had started on the Prime tyre and Jean-Eric on the Option and he took on another set of these at the same time the nose was changed.
On lap 20, Perez clipped Daniel’s car – fortunately without damage to the Australian’s car – and at one third distance he was 14th with Jev 19th, having dispensed with some of the slower cars. Tyre management had been tricky for everyone this weekend, but the Pirellis were certainly lasting longer than had been expected: this meant that in terms of strategy many teams, ourselves included had got the race underway with an open mind as to whether to stop once or twice. As the race progressed, it became clear that the single stop was going to be the best choice, with Daniel switching tyres on lap 27, while Jev who’d had to make that earlier stop, made his only planned visit to pit lane on lap 33 when he was lying fifteenth. With ten of the sixty laps remaining, the Frenchman regained fifteenth place when he managed to overtake Petrov, with Daniel bringing his car home in thirteenth spot. Not the best weekend for us – it never can be if you don’t score points, but we won’t have long to see if we can do better, as we are back on track in Abu Dhabi for free practice on Friday. That means only one thing – another crazily busy night of packing everything away for the air-freight to fly from India to Arabia.
For Sebastian Vettel, it was the perfect weekend as he topped every time sheet and led every lap to take his fourth consecutive win. The Red Bull driver has now extended his lead over second-placed Fernando Alonso, but only to 13 points. Despite only qualifying fifth, the Spaniard seemed unnaturally confident that he could make a race of it today, but incredibly he did. He steered his Ferrari past the two McLarens that had been on the second row of the grid and gradually caught Mark Webber who was second for most of the race. Alonso was on incredible form and dispensed with the Australian who had to settle for third. He then set off in pursuit of Vettel, but by then the German’s lead was unassailable. The two McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finished fourth and fifth ahead of Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari. The rest of the points went to Kimi Raikkonen, seventh for Lotus, followed by Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus and Bruno Senna tenth for Williams.