After qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix, it is certainly advantage Sebastian Vettel in the championship race. Qualifying on pole with a single scorching lap in Q3, Vettel confirmed Red Bull’s qualifying pace and delivered a stark warning to his nearest rival, Fernando Alonso. Despite appearing to have the second best pace of the leading constructors throughout the three practice sessions behind Red Bull, Ferrari found themselves behind McLaren too, leaving Alonso in 5th position. With no grid penalties this time around to help him, the Spaniard now has 3 cars between himself and Vettel, none of which are going to aid him in pursuing the German.
The question that the Ferrari management, strategists and mechanics will be asking in their debriefing is “how can Alonso beat Vettel?” Unfortunately, the answer will be, “he can’t”. Almost certainly the words “damage limitation” will be muttered in Italian too.
Vettel holds such a monopoly over the rest of the field now in terms of qualifying pace that it doesn’t necessarily matter if he doesn’t have the fastest pace on race day. Vettel will have a rear-gunner right behind him, in the form of the supposedly non-yielding Mark Webber. Even the most uninformed of pundits would be able to detect that that interview on Thursday was just fighting talk, and that he’ll be supporting Vettel. With his help, just like in Korea and Japan, Vettel can easily deploy the tactics which proved so formidable in 2011.