F1: King Sebastian Vettel in a world of his own making

Champion leaves the pack trailing as he seeks to wrap up fourth title in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix

Greater Noida

Sebastian Vettel wouldn’t reveal what rev-up music he listens to before a grand prix, but something by Status Quo would be a suitable nomination. For he is the only man to lead a Formula One lap at India’s Buddh International Circuit after dominating the previous two races here, and he has also won the past five races this season.

For a man who just needs to win here to cement a fourth consecutive world championship, he is sitting in the pound seats after taking his 43rd pole position. Yes, the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton ganged up on his Red Bull team-mate, Mark Webber, but Vettel’s margin of 0.7sec over the silver arrows was all the proof you needed of the superiority of his Adrian Newey-designed machine.

He lost no time in redefining the ante yet again in the final qualifying session, and his lap of 1min 24.119sec was so far ahead of everyone else it wasn’t funny. But Webber, like Fernando Alonso for Ferrari and the McLaren drivers, opted to run Pirelli’s medium-compound tyre rather than the softs his main rivals favoured, and that left him prey to the Mercedes. First Rosberg beat him with 1:24.871, then Hamilton with 1:24.941. But Webber improved to 1:25.047 to take fourth, and could reap the benefits in a race which will be decided on strategy. The soft tyres are faster but the mediums are lasting much longer.

“It’s been a brilliant weekend, and the car basically has been fantastic since yesterday morning and has stayed that way as the track conditions ramped up,” Vettel said. “This is a great circuit and I really like its flow, with all the high-speed corners in the middle sector. Of course, if your car works well there, you really enjoy that.”

Hamilton, listening in during the post-race press conference, smiled ruefully, saying: “Incredible congratulations to Seb. That’s some serious pace that they have.”

Despite this, Vettel refuses to be complacent about his chances of wrapping up the title with three races to run. “I’m trying not to think about it,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “but it’s difficult when every second person in the paddock asks you the same question. But we will just focus on every single step. I don’t know which strategy will prove to be the right one, but it’s a long race and it’s always tricky to do the right thing. There are a lot of laps and we have a quick package, so we should be in good shape. The strategy surely is not easy to decide but if everybody does his bit it shouldn’t matter too much. We’ll see how well each one works out in the race.”

Both Mercedes drivers agreed they had driven the wheels off their cars. “To be honest, I was completely on a knife edge and really pushed the limits to try and find that extra tenth of a second, trying new things,” Rosberg said. “I’m very pleased with second because it’s better than I hoped for with Mark being on another strategy. We’ve taken a step forward from recent races.”

As for Hamilton, he added: “It’s been a tough weekend for us, and we have been pushing as hard as we can. I’ve struggled a little bit with something different on the car, which Nico has had experience of in the past, and I have to say I was a little bit surprised to be where we are. But we just kept adjusting the set-up bit by bit and the car was reasonable.

“In turns eight and nine I had somebody ahead of me – it may have been you!” he said, turning to Vettel with a smile. “But it didn’t lose me too much time. Strategy will play a huge part in the race, and we’ll try and push Red Bull as hard as we can, even if they are in a different world.”

Off the track, it is understood that F1’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, will face bribery charges in a Munich court on 6 November, after next weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP. It was originally thought that the hearing would be delayed until 2014.

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried