Sebastian Vettel said that he felt mixed emotions today after taking victory in the inaugural Indian Grand Prix – clearly he enjoyed taking his eleventh victory of 2011, but was also remembering Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli.
“It was very good race for us and I enjoyed it,” said the world champion. “I had a bit of a fight with Jenson in the distance who was always around 4 seconds away, but strangely he kept closing in around the pit stops. I was pushing very hard into the box, but we seemed to lose a little bit there, which we need to understand. On the circuit it was crucial to manage the tyres and make sure we had enough left at the end, but it was a very smooth race. The car was very well balanced and it was a fantastic race today. Thanks to the whole team and to Renault, who have done an exceptional job so far this season.
“But I have mixed emotions today,” he added. “I'm very proud to be the first winner of the Indian Grand Prix, but on the other hand we lost two of our mates recently. I didn't know Dan Wheldon, but obviously he was a big name in motorsport. I got to know Marco Simoncelli this year and our thoughts are with their families at this time. We are ready to take certain risks, but obviously we pray that nothing happens; sometimes you get reminded and that's the last thing we want to see.”
Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was running third until the second round of pit stops, and seemed destined to join Vettel on the podium. However, he lost out to Fernando Alonso, and had to settle for fourth place.
“We lost the podium in the middle of the race really,” he said. “It's pretty much the general story of this year; I just don’t have the pace at the end of the stints, so I run out of tyres and then lose strategy, it means I have to pit earlier and it makes life harder. In the end, I wasn't quick enough. I had a reasonable pace at the start of the stints, but as they go on, we go back into the clutches of the other guys. We were struggling a little bit with the balance at the end of the stints.
“It was a good fight with Fernando, but the McLarens and Ferraris were pretty strong in the first sector, Jenson got me on the first lap on the back straight. I was quick against him in the first few laps, but after that, as soon as you fight you chew up the tyres. So that’s the way it goes, disappointing, but now we go to Abu Dhabi.”
Team principal Christian Horner must have exhausted most of the superlatives in the dictionary this season, but still expressed his pleasure at another great result for the team.
“A brilliant result for the team to win the first ever Indian Grand Prix,” he said. “Sebastian was inch-perfect today and drove an immaculate race with great strategy, good pit work and everything came right for him. Despite a lot of encouragement not to, he still managed to set another fastest lap on his final lap of the race.
“For Mark, it was more of a frustrating afternoon. Having initially made a good start, unfortunately Jenson managed to get past on the first lap and then he found himself in a race with Fernando. Approaching the second stop we were in a little more trouble with the tyres than Fernando, so we needed to pit and unfortunately the outlap performance of the hard tyre wasn't strong enough to keep him ahead. Despite his best efforts, he didn't manage to pass Fernando. Nevertheless first and fourth still retains our 100% reliability record.
“After claiming the team season pole position record yesterday, Sebastian has claimed a second record this weekend, by leading the most laps during the course of a grand prix season.”