F1: Sebastian Vettel tops practice in India with his eyes fixed firmly on fourth championship success
The Red Bull driver was fastest in both sessions at the Buddh International Circuit
Friday 25 October 2013
Runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel set the pace in second practice for the Indian Grand Prix as the Red Bull driver served notice of his intention to wrap up a fourth successive world title with yet another victory in his all-conquering 2013 season.
Vettel, who leads the drivers' standings by 90 points with just 100 left to play for over the final four rounds, was fastest in Friday morning's opening practice and improved further in the 90-minute afternoon session, lowering the benchmark to one minute 25.722 seconds.
The 26-year-old went to top of timesheets early in the session but then received a radio message confirming his KERS power-boost system was not working. A quick-fix later and Vettel was back on track, taking his time into 1min 25secs territory for the first time.
Vettel's place at the top of the order in both sessions was not unexpected at a track he has made his own since its first appearance on the F1 calendar in 2011. He has won both races in India so far - leading all 120 laps across the two races. The German is also on a five-race winning streak and gunning for his 10th win overall this season.
Regardless of whether Vettel maintains his winning streak, the primary objective this weekend is to wrap up world title number four, which would make him only the fourth man to reach that milestone after Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.
As in the morning's opening practice session, Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was next up to secure another Red Bull one-two, the gap between the two men growing from just under two-tenths to a shade under three.
The in-form Romain Grosjean was third for Lotus, half a second clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who, despite an early spin, improved significantly on his efforts in first practice when he finished a distant 17th.
Lewis Hamilton was seven-tenths off the pace in fourth place, with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg sixth.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - the only man who can still deny Vettel the title - was in fifth place after recovering well from a gearbox problem that saw him complete just six laps in opening practice.
Elsewhere, Williams' Pastor Maldonado had a busy day, enlivening a largely pedestrian first session with a spin and then having a wheel nut work loose from his right-front tyre in the afternoon, forcing him to park up.
McLaren's Jenson Button was 10th with Paul Di Resta 15th for Force India, while Marussia's Max Chilton once against propped up the pack.
Friday's practice sessions were preceded by the news that the legal threat to this weekend's race was at an end after a Supreme Court hearing into alleged tax irregularities was delayed until next week.
A petition seeking the cancellation of the race was lodged with India's Supreme Court earlier this week amid allegations that race organisers Jaypee Sports International Limited did not pay entertainment taxes due on last year's event.
However, a spokesman for the race organisers confirmed to Press Association Sport the hearing will now take place following Sunday's race, clearing the way for the 16th round of the season to go ahead as planned.
James Rodriguez to Real Madrid: Would Colombian star fit in with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale?
William Carvalho to Arsenal? Gunners make new enquiry for £35m rated midfielder
Manchester United transfer news: More signings expected, indicates Ed Woodward
Chelsea transfer news: Completed summer deals - including Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas
Liverpool transfer news: Loic Remy, Dejan Lovren and Divock Origi on verge of Anfield moves
- 1 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 2 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 3 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 4 Man takes most pointless Uber cab ride of all time
- 5 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains