Sebastian Vettel looked to be marching supremely on to his fourth consecutive World Championship in practice ahead of the Indian Grand Prix, as the Red Bull driver went fastest in both sessions.
As has become usual in recent events, the Red Bull pairing of Vettel and Webber started off slowly in the first sessions – but were still able to lock out the top two positions. Nico Rosberg meanwhile was third fastest for Mercedes, only two tenths of a second off the pace of the Red Bulls.
Romain Grosjean, the form man of the moment following his third place in Japan, was fourth behind the Red Bulls and Rosberg. Hamilton confirmed the strong pace of the Silver Arrows and ended the session fifth. But it was far from the ideal session for Vettel’s only remaining championship challenger, Fernando Alonso.
Alonso needs to win this weekend and hope that Vettel finishes outside the top five to have any hope of taking the title battle on to Abu Dhabi. However, that looks unlikely after his first session was compromised by a gearbox problem that left him twelfth fastest, one and a half seconds off the pace. Team mate Felipe Massa was eighth, behind the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
In the second session it was Vettel who was fastest once more, with Webber again in second place, two tenths off his team mate’s pace. It therefore looks like being a very strong weekend for the Red Bull team, with the chasing pack falling further off the pace.
Romain Grosjean improved his position from the morning session to go third fastest, but was nearly half a second off Vettel’s pace. Hamilton was the best of the Mercedes cars in fourth fastest, with team mate Rosberg sixth. They were split by the recovering Ferrari of Fernando Alonso who rebounded from a difficult morning session to go fifth fastest, but was still seventh tenths off the pace.
The McLarens confirmed their good pace from the morning session, with Perez getting the better of Button for ninth and tenth places respectively.
Additionally, any fears of the Grand Prix being cancelled were quashed after India’s Supreme Court delayed the case till next week.