| Fernando Alonso during the practice session, at the BIC, in Greater Noida, on Friday |
Greater Noida: The timesheets had a familiar look after two practice sessions on Friday, as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel – the man, who won the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in the last two editions – once against topped the list in both sessions.
The German driver is in line for the third straight title at the BIC and the fourth consecutive world crown. Given the way Vettel dominated the practice sessions, he seems set to steam roll his rivals.
In fact, it was Red Bull all the way as Vettel and his teammate Mark Webber finished 1-2, while Lotus’ Romain Grosjean managed to be best of the rest in second practice.
Vettel, who topped the first practice on Friday morning, was the only man to dip below 1 minute 26 seconds in an intriguing session that saw all the drivers struggling with front tyre wear on the softer compound rubber.
The two Ferrari drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, were fifth and seventh fastest, respectively, with the second Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg slotting in between them. Force India’s Paul Di Resta returned to the circuit after being substituted by James Calado in the first practice session and finished 15th (1:27.608). Teammate Adrian Sutil was in 12th place with a time of 1:27.375.
Vettel, Webber, Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg all had turns at the top of the timesheet before the reigning world champion stamped his authority.
Vettel’s lap of 1:25.722s remained unbeatable thereafter, with Webber the closest on 1:26.011s. Grosjean, however, kept the Red Bull drivers on their toes with 1:26.220s, and Lewis Hamilton moved up to fourth for Mercedes with 1:26.399s.
Williams’ driver Pastor Maldonado was fined 60,000 Euros for the second time in as many races, after the wheel nut of his right-front wheel came off during second practice session here. The Venezuelan was forced to stop on the side of the circuit after the wheel nut came loose, following a “racing” pit stop and the tyre suffered a puncture at Turn Seven.
Meanwhile, the race will go ahead as the petition in the Supreme Court did not come up for hearing on Friday.