Vettel continued his supreme dominance

Sebastian Vettel continued his supreme dominance of the 2011 season by winning the inaugural Indian Grand Prix from Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber was fourth and Michael Schumacher will be delighted to have finished ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg in fifth place, while Lewis Hamilton finished seventh after being involved in yet another collision with Felipe Massa. Vettel's pole to flag victory was his eleventh of the season and the German now has the record books in his sights in matching Schumacher's tally of 13 race wins in a season.
The race itself provided good racing and incident aplenty and was well received by a near capacity crowd at the Buddh International Circuit, a perfect advert for the first running of Formula One in the country.

As the lights went out it was Button who made the best start, passing Alonso as the Ferrari ran wide at turn 1 before muscling past Webber into turn 4. Schumacher was another fast starter, moving up to eighth from 11th with Bruno Senna moving up to 10th from 14th.

The back of the grid also saw incident aplenty, Kamui Kobayashi, Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello all involved in contacts that saw the Sauber driver forced into retirement and the other cars pit for repairs. Timo Glock was another early casualty, the Virgin retiring as a result of the opening lap melee, soon to be followed by Pastor Maldonado, who lost drive exiting turn 4.

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With Vettel stretching away from Button and Webber at the front of the field, the midfield battles made for fantastic viewing for the packed grandstands, Sutil, Alguersuari, Buemi and Senna running close together as the Renault held up the Toro Rossos in the early stages, before DRS allowed the pair through. That was the last action for Buemi though, whose engine soon gave up.

Back at the front, Webber and Alonso were the first of the front runners to pit on lap 17 with Button and Vettel following suit. But the big incident of the race happened seven laps later and it came as no surprise that it involved yet another racing incident between the feuding Hamilton and Massa. As Hamilton tried to pass the Ferrari into turn five it appeared that Massa did not see the McLaren pull alongside him and he turned into the corner, sending his Ferrari spinning off into the run-off area before rejoining the track.

The result was a broken wing for Hamilton, while Massa's front wing also vibrated heavily. In a break from the norm this season, Massa was punished with a drive-through penalty for turning in on the McLaren and causing a collision - the right decision as the Ferrari had been unwilling to avoid contact. Things quickly went from bad to worse for Massa when he clattered over a kerb into turn 9 in a near repeat of his qualifying incident, breaking his suspension and sending him into retirement.

The battle for third gathered momentum on lap 40, Alonso nipping out just ahead of Webber as both drivers completed their stops for the prime hard tyre. Webber continued to press the Ferrari right until the final lap but Alonso held firm to cement the final podium place.

The final round of stops also brought a bit of interest to the race of the front; Button had never been much more than five seconds behind, but a quick lap as Vettel got his hard tires up to temperature saw the gap come down to 2.8s. Having led every lap though, Vettel was unwilling to lose out late on and eased away to win by over eight seconds, setting the fastest lap of the race on the last lap to complete a perfect weekend.

Jaime Alguersuari, Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez rounded out the remaining points places and home favourite Narain Karthikeyan will be pleased with his 17th place, finishing ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo but just 0.5s behind the Virgin of Jerome d'Ambrosio.

Celebrations on the podium were slightly muted as the top three remembered Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli who lost their lives racing in the last fortnight. All three dedicated the race in their memory.

CredistL ESPN F1 / Fraser Masefield

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