Sebastian Vettel stretched his Formula 1 World Championship lead to 13 points with a fourth straight dominant victory in the Indian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was at least able to minimize the damage to his title bid by battling through to second place.
Red Bull's rivals may have claimed pre-race that they were determined to prevent Vettel making a clean break, but the champion team actually looked more dominant than ever on lap one, as Vettel and Mark Webber cruised away while the McLarens and Ferraris grappled with each other.
Alonso managed to draft past both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on the long straight, then saw them go back around him – one either side – at Turn 4. Button came out best and took third, with Alonso managing to get back past Hamilton into fourth.
Alonso then overtook Button for third as soon as DRS was available. Hamilton did likewise soon afterward.
Third looked like being Alonso's limit until the second half of the race, when Webber began drifting off Vettel's pace and into the Ferrari's sights. As Webber reported a lack of KERS, Alonso stepped up his chase – despite also having to try to save fuel. The Ferrari breezed past with 10 laps to go, and – encouraged by some unusual sparks from under Vettel's car – kept pushing to the flag. It was in vain, though, as yet again Vettel was safely heading for victory.
Hamilton, who required a rapidly fitted new steering wheel at his pit stop, charged onto Webber's tail in the final moments but could not separate the Red Bull from the podium. Button was a lonely fifth, losing time with a long spell behind a yet-to-stop Romain Grosjean.
Felipe Massa resisted Kimi Raikkonen for sixth. The Lotus jumped the Ferrari by pitting one lap later, only for Massa to use DRS to immediately re-pass. Grosjean fell into the midfield at the start, then recovered with some successful overtaking and by running until lap 36 before pitting for fresh softs. The Lotus got back up to ninth, chasing Nico Hulkenberg's Force India.
Hulkenberg had initially sparred with Sergio Perez, but the Sauber made an early pit stop then retired after picking up a puncture while jousting with Daniel Ricciardo's.
Perez was one of three drivers who sustained tire damage in combat. Jean-Eric Vergne tagged Michael Schumacher at the first corner of the race, breaking the Toro Rosso's wing and slicing the Mercedes' tire.
Pastor Maldonado also got a puncture in a tussle with Kamui Kobayashi. But Bruno Senna saved Williams's day with an assertive drive to 10th that included a late pass on Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Indian Grand Prix
Buddh International Circuit, India;
60 laps; 307.249km;
Weather: Hazy and dry.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h31:10.744
2. Alonso Ferrari + 9.437
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 13.217
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 13.909
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 26.266
6. Massa Ferrari + 44.600
7. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 45.200
8. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 54.900
9. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 56.100
10. Senna Williams-Renault + 1:14.900
11. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:21.600
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:22.800
13. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:26.000
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:26.400
15. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
16. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1 lap
17. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
18. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
19. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
20. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. Schumacher Mercedes + 5 laps
Fastest lap: Button, 1:28.203
Driver Team On lap
De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 41
Perez Sauber-Ferrari 21
World Championship standings, round 17:
1. Vettel 240 1. Red Bull-Renault 407
2. Alonso 227 2. Ferrari 316
3. Raikkonen 173 3. McLaren-Mercedes 306
4. Webber 167 4. Lotus-Renault 263
5. Hamilton 165 5. Mercedes 136
6. Button 141 6. Sauber-Ferrari 116
7. Rosberg 93 7. Force India-Mercedes 93
8. Grosjean 90 8. Williams-Renault 59
9. Massa 89 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 21
10. Perez 66
11. Kobayashi 50
12. Hulkenberg 49
13. Di Resta 44
14. Schumacher 43
15. Maldonado 33
16. Senna 26
17. Vergne 12
18. Ricciardo 9
All timing unofficial