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Vettel takes fourth title with India win


While we know we cannot rely on the weather gods to spice things up today, not unless the circuit is suddenly shrouded in smog at half-distance, we do know that tyre strategy is going to be key.

Whilst the option tyres are clearly quicker, they drop off after just a couple of laps and consequently nobody really wants to be on them today. With this is mind we saw the strategy begin to come into play yesterday and, as one might expect, some have already got it wrong.

The biggest casualty in qualifying was Romain Grosjean, his team's gamble on a single run on options totally backfiring and leaving the Frenchman starting from seventeenth on the grid.

Elsewhere we saw Red Bull and Ferrari put their drivers on different strategies, a gamble that will either pay off or fail over the next ninety minutes.

Ever the gamblers when it comes to tyre strategy, McLaren has both its drivers on the prime rubber, as the Woking outfit seeks to maintain its advantage over Force India.

According to Pirelli, two stops is theoretically the quickest approach to the 60-lap race, but this very much depends on the car and other race factors, such as traffic.

The optimal two-stop strategy is to start on the soft, change to the medium on lap two, and a final stint on the medium from lap 28. However, an alternative two-stop strategy is to start on the medium, change to the medium again on lap 28 and then to the soft on lap 57.

On the two previous occasions on which the race has been held the Safety Car has not made an appearance, nor have there been any serious incidents, even on the first lap. While there have been minor incidents in T1 it is T3 that is regarded as the corner most likely to see a pile-up but that too has been pretty much incident free in the last two years.

An incident early in this year's event could turn all that tyre strategy stuff on its head, for the early appearance of the Safety Car would allow Vettel and others to shed their options and get on with the race.

While a number of drivers are out of position, Vettel must be hoping that Grosjean - who starts behind Vergne, Bottas and Gutierrez - gets up to his old ways.

By the way, and we don't want to depress you, but not only has Vettel won both previous races he has led every single lap.

While most concentrate on the title(s) which should be wrapped up today, it is the battle(s) behind that we should really be focussing on.

The Constructors' Championship is not only about money it is about prestige, and Ferrari faces the real prospect of finishing behind Mercedes and Lotus in this year's title fight, while, having leapfrogged Toro Rosso, the ever improving Sauber has its eyes set on Force Indi and possibly even McLaren.

Ron Dennis famously said that to finish second was to be the first of the losers however, a number of drivers out there today will be happy to finish fourth, fifth or sixth, what with only a handful of seats for 2014 actually filled.

With three more races remaining this is the time when drivers can stake their claims on those all important seats... or blow their chances entirely.

In a late move, and with its eye clearly on safety, Pirelli has called on the teams to limit its running on its tyres today, asking them not to run more than 15 laps on the options and 35 on the primes. A sort of strategy by proxy, enforcing teams to pit and also punishing those teams able to extract more from their rubber.

Thankfully the FIA does not agree with the move and is not changing the rules.

Of course, on a similar strategy to Alonso, and starting a couple of spots before him, Mark Webber could do much to aid his Red Bull teammate's title bid today... but honestly...

While Vettel has an ominous record here and has topped the timesheets in every session, one cannot help but feel that teammate Webber looks remarkably confident. Then again, he has before.

With Grosjean so far back, Raikkonen has the chance to re-take the spotlight coming off the back of his podium finishes in Singapore and Korea.


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1. Posted by karel, 31/10/2013 10:36

"For me it's not logic that a car is a full 2 sec lap faster than any other car, yes you can be faster, but not that faster. It's like a F1 while all the other cars are moderate road cars. I don't undrstand why the mapping and in general the complete car isn't investigated by the FIA ??"

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2. Posted by Spindoctor, 28/10/2013 11:28

"Vettel has driven the fastest car well this season. As a spectacle, however, F1 has become increasingly dull as a consequence of the Red Bull's overwhelming technical superiority.
Let's hope that next year's changes depose Red Bull, and that Pirelli produce some tyres that work properly, and most importantly, consistently for everyone.
If they can't manage that, then let's return to lots of in-year testing, so that when a particular team has a huge advantage the others have a decent opportunity to catch-up.

I don't think I'll be able to watch another season in which the 'best drivers in the world' are forced to chug around for lap-after-lap hoping to preserve their tyres sufficiently to allow them to finish. Yes, there's been some decent racing, but in spite of, not because of the tyres and the regulations..."

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3. Posted by Marybeth, 27/10/2013 23:55

"I like the top picture of Vettel near his car on the track. Neither of his feet are on the ground & that is probably just the way he felt. :)"

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4. Posted by The Rumble Strip, 27/10/2013 18:41

"Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing on their fourth successive world titles.

Although derided in the past for being just an energy drinks company aiming to put fun back into F1, this is a driver and team whose victory owes a lot to the hard work put in by many people, led by Christian Horner and Adrian Newey, both at the track and the factory.

It’s quite often seen as fair game to bash those who dominate a sport but rather their success should be hailed for what it really is, an ultimate desire to go racing in a serious and fair way with a smile and in doing so, having the ability to beat some of the best that have ever existed.

That in itself should ensure that they both go down in history as part of the sports all time greats.

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