2011 Indian Grand Prix – Race Report

The first ever Indian Grand Prix was a decent race for sure. There were a few interesting collisions and the new track is definitely ripe for interesting races. The fact that the top-tier cars are so dominant this year just didn’t give the middle group a chance to shine (the same is true for the entire season) and so next year I’m sure the race will be much more interesting.

Race Direction: Excellent

I’m rather stunned but the race director met my criteria more than admirably. There were no missed yellow flags, over half the pit-stops were caught on camera and thanks to some furious racing both in the middle and back of the lot, there was a well-balanced amount of attention given to all racing participants. My hat is off to this director and I hope other race directors will take notes from his example.

The Top-10

Sebastian Vettel is like an unstoppable juggernaut at this point. Jenson Button drove a solid race to finish second and Fernando Alonso defended his position well to finish third.

Mark Webber had another abysmal start to a race and finished a humble fourth. I think the Aussie has to get it through his head at some point that races are lost and won on the starting grid. Michael Schumacher rose the ranks from outside of the top-10 to finish a strong fifth. With his team-mate Nico Rosberg finishing on sixth, Mercedes GP can pat themselves on the back for a solid race performance.

There was plenty of grief for McLaren thanks to Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa running into each other during the race. Hamilton, who started from the top-5 was able to manage a seventh place after having his front wing replaced. Otherwise, he would have easily taken a much higher position.

For the first time in the longest while we’ve had seven different teams in the Top-10. Joining the Four Leafed Clover (McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes) are Toro Rosso, Force India and Sauber. Jaime Alguersuari drove an excellent race to finish eighth and the TR car has been up to pace all weekend which is fantastic, considering how poorly the team’s season has gone. Adrian Sutil made up for his team-mate’s poor performance by finishing a fairly solid ninth. Sergio Perez made an impressive rise from grid-20 to take the final point in the Top-10.

Golden Pineapple Award

Vitaly Petrov made an admirable rise after his penalty, but sadly couldn’t reach points. This is only his second Pineapple Award this season, so it doesn’t affect the standings.

Drop-out count: 5

Most of the retirements happened during the first half of the race. Although there was a sizable crash in the back-to-middle lot only two retirements resulted from this. Kamui Kobayashi, who drove another bad qualifying, was sadly the one to be taken out immediately by the crash. Timo Glock also retired after a few laps, presumably from the damage his car suffered from the accident.

Technical difficulties befell on Pastor Maldonado and Sebastian Buemi. Maldonado’s gear-box gave out in the middle of the race and Buemi’s engine blew out, rather sadly since he was also driving an otherwise excellent race for Toro Rosso.

Though Hamilton and Felipe Massa collided, Massa didn’t suffer much damage but received a drive-through penalty for blocking Hamilton which is what caused the accident. Massa suffered a similar suspension failure, as he did in the qualifying, by driving over the edge of the track.

Back of the Lot News

Most of the excitement in the race was provided by drivers in the middle group who were fighting furiously to reach points. The Toro Rossos taking on Bruno Senna was by far the most exciting battle. Senna, whose KERS wasn’t working properly, was even finding it difficult to keep a distance to Heikki Kovalainen‘s Lotus.

Heikki drove a fantastic race. At one point he was tenth in the standings and he not only left all his competition behind, but also Rubens Barrichello (though granted, Barrichello lost his front wing in the crash during the start). His team-mate, Trulli, did not have a happy day. After bumping into the back of Maldonado’s car, Trulli spun out and had to come into the pits, finishing 19th and dead last.

Narain Karthikeyan (replacing Vitantonio Liuzzi for this race) was able to race for the first time in his native country and was at least able to beat his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, though he lost out to another F1 new-comer, Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio.