Two weeks after Sebastian Vettel overtook Fernando Alonso at the top of the drivers championship with victory in Japan, the Formula One circus moves on to the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida for the Indian Grand Prix (Race time: 9.30am BST, Sunday).
Ferrari’s Alonso had led the championship for eight rounds, at one point holding a 40 point advantage over his nearest challenger, but three consecutive victories for Vettel have allowed the Red Bull driver to reel in and now overtake the Spaniard at the top of the standings.
The betting for the F1 Drivers’ Championship title now looks somewhat uncompetitive with Vettel almost home and hosed according to the odds of 1/4.
Alonso has secured three third place finishes in the last four races, but his Ferrari is some way off the pace of the Red Bull. There are issues with the accuracy of the team’s wind tunnel limiting their ability to effectively develop the car.
Ferrari’s chief designer, Nicolas Tombazi, did, however, offer some hope earlier this week when he suggested they have found a solution to the problems. He hopes an “aggressive” development strategy will help them close the gap to Red Bull in the remaining races.
Lotus’ downturn in form has seen Kimi Raikonnen fall away from the sharp end of the title battle, two sixths and a fifth in the last three races leaving him 48 points off the lead. He is in need of a spectacular turnaround in the final four races if he is to have any chance of adding to his 2007 title.
Further back, Lewis Hamilton’s championship bid is effectively over, 11 points from the last three races leaving him 62 points down on Vettel. He would need to make up in the region of 16 points in each of the last four races, something he is highly unlikely to do on both Vettel and Alonso.
The Buddh International Circuit is a high downforce track, which should play to the strengths of the resurgent Red Bull team. Their double DRS system, which was highly effective in Japan and Korea, is again likely to give them an advantage in India.
Vettel may have lost out to team-mate Mark Webber in the battle for first on the grid in Korea, but has out-qualified the Australian 9-7 so far this season, took pole in India last year and with the bit between his teeth in the title fight is the favourite to secure another pole position this time around.
Pastor Maldonado has performed well at some of the other high-downforce circuits on the calendar this year, qualifying in the top ten in Monaco and Hungary and achieving a superb second on the grid in Singapore, three races ago. He will be a strong contender in reach the top ten shootout again in India.
With three consecutive victories to his name it is hard to back anyone but Vettel to emerge victorious in India. Now Red Bull have managed to re-assert themselves as strong qualifiers he is able to control races from the front in the manner he did to great effect last season.
Ferrari will presumably be stronger than in recent races, while McLaren have shown good race pace at high downforce circuits. However, Red Bull are in imperious form and Vettel – the only driver to have won consecutive races this season – is intently focused on obtaining a third successive drivers championship title. He is the favourite for victory on Sunday.
As previously mentioned, Lotus have fallen off the pace in the second half of the season, but in the hands of Raikonnen the car has still proved capable of yielding regular top six finishes. Raikonnen has finished in the top six in 75% of this year’s races, including each of the five following the summer break.
Raikonnen does not have a single retirement to his name so far this season and with Lotus hopeful of getting some more performance from their Coanda style exhaust and a new front wing he is a solid bet to finish in the top six again.
The safety car was not required at last year’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix, which like many newly built circuits has sufficient run off areas so as not to require its deployment in most situations. There is a clear weather report for this weekend’s race and we therefore feel it is unlikely the safety car will be utilised.
Indian Grand Prix Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Sebastian Vettel to take pole position @ 4/5 with Blue Square, Ladbrokes and Boylesports.
- Back Pastor Maldonado to reach qualifying session three @ 6/5 with Ladbrokes.
- Bet on Sebastian Vettel to win the race @ 11/10 with Betfred, Blue Square and William Hill.
- Back Kimi Raikonnen to finish in the top six @ 4/7 with Ladbrokes or Paddy Power.
- Back the Safety Car not to be deployed @ best odds of 5/6 with Bet365.