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Indian GP: Vettel takes fourth F1 title with crushing win

Sebastian Vettel sealed his fourth consecutive Formula 1 World Championship crown with a dominant Indian Grand Prix victory.

The Red Bull driver converted his pole position into the lead at the first corner at the Buddh circuit and was always effectively in front, even though his pit strategy painted a different picture during the opening phase of the race.

Vettel started on Pirelli's soft tyres and was the first man into the pits for medium rubber at the end of the second lap.

Once Felipe Massa's Ferrari and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had got rid of their softs, Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was left in front while the German battled through the pack.

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A combination of passing moves and pitstops for others quickly moved Vettel up from 18th to fifth. Despite being in traffic, he cut an 18-second deficit to Webber to one of less than 11s by the time the Australian made his first stop on lap 28 of 60.

By that point Vettel had passed Romain Grosjean's Lotus, Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez's McLaren, meaning he retook the lead at this point.

Both Red Bull drivers made their final stops by lap 33, Red Bull employing a similar, short-stint strategy on softs for Webber.

Webber's 11s deficit to Vettel before those final stops became one of more than 13s after them, leading to the team instructing the German to ease his pace and protect his tyres.

It became irrelevant less than 10 laps later as Webber retired from second after suffering an alternator problem.

Webber's misfortune promoted Kimi Raikkonen to second, the Lotus driver attempting to make it to the finish with a 52-lap stint on medium Pirellis.

But the Finn could not hold off the two-stopping Rosberg, who used his DRS to ease into second with eight laps remaining. He finished 29s behind Vettel as Red Bull clinched the constructors' title.

Raikkonen's pace during the final few laps was over a second slower than those chasing him, including team-mate Grosjean, whose rubber was 46 laps old by the finish.

The Frenchman, who started 17th, pulled onto Raikkonen's tail with four laps to go and passed the Finn for third at the exit of Turn 4, only to cede back the place immediately to avoid a penalty.

Raikkonen let Grosjean by further around the lap to allow the Frenchman to to finish on the podium for a third straight race. He was then passed by Massa for fourth as they crossed the start/finish line seconds later.

The battling Hamilton and Perez were with Raikkonen a lap-and-a-half later, Perez using his DRS and KERS to pass both down the back straight and take fifth - his best result since joining McLaren last winter.

Raikkonen, who lost sixth to Hamilton during the same move, pitted for fresh rubber with just two laps to go, but was able to remain ahead of Paul di Resta and set the race's fastest lap right at the death.

Di Resta and Adrian Sutil made it two Force Indias in the points with Ricciardo completing the top 10.

Fernando Alonso, the only man who arrived in India with a chance of denying Vettel the title, had a race fraught with incident.

He stopped early for tyres and a new front wing after clipping Webber's rear wing and damaging his nosecone at the exit of the race's first corner, and then banged wheels with Jenson Button two corners later.

The Ferrari driver spent his entire afternoon in the midfield and finished 11th after stopping three times. And battling with Ricciardo, Pastor Maldonado and Button late on.

Nico Hulkenberg drove strongly all weekend and was on course for eighth when he pitted near the end with a problem with the floor of his Sauber. He retired with three laps left..

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The Indian Grand Prix
Buddh International Circuit, India;
60 laps; 307.249km;
Weather: Smoggy.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h31:12.187
 2.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +    29.823
 3.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault              +    39.892
 4.  Massa          Ferrari                    +    41.692
 5.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +    43.829
 6.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +    52.400
 7.  Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault              +  1:07.900
 8.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes       +  1:12.800
 9.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +  1:14.700
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:16.200
11.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +  1:18.200
12.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +  1:18.900
13.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
14.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +     1 lap
15.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
16.  Bottas         Williams-Renault           +     1 lap
17.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
19.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +    6 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:27.679

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         On lap
Webber         Red Bull-Renault             40
Pic            Caterham-Renault             36
van der Garde  Caterham-Renault             2


World Championship standings, round 16:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel        322        1.  Red Bull-Renault          470
 2.  Alonso        207        2.  Mercedes                  313
 3.  Raikkonen     183        3.  Ferrari                   309
 4.  Hamilton      169        4.  Lotus-Renault             285
 5.  Webber        148        5.  McLaren-Mercedes           93
 6.  Rosberg       144        6.  Force India-Mercedes       68
 7.  Massa         102        7.  Sauber-Ferrari             45
 8.  Grosjean      102        8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         32
 9.  Button         60        9.  Williams-Renault            1
10.  Di Resta       40       
11.  Huleknberg     39       
12.  Perez          33       
13.  Sutil          28       
14.  Ricciardo      19       
15.  Vergne         13       
16.  Gutierrez       6       
17.  Maldonado       1       
       
All timing unofficial

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