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.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal