By Joe Watson
Ahead of the Indian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton had already written off his chances of achieving his sixth pole of the year. Despite half a dozen decent qualifying sessions, the Brit’s form on race-day has been wayward from the start and he has dropped 48 points from pole.
In tomorrow’s showdown Hamilton will set off from third, a position even he didn’t think was possible. The Brit conceded Vettel will be uncatchable and he will need to be quick off the mark to produce any serious contest.
He said: “None of us are going to see Sebastian after the first corner unless we jump him at the start which is unlikely, but we will try our best. I was a little bit surprised to be where we are”.
Hamilton will need a nippy start and first lap considering he will start on soft tyres. An early pit stop is on the cards and could see Webber leap-frog above him as the Red Bull will start on a medium set of wheels.
The first two corners have provided excellent viewing in the previous two races in India. A clean start from the front of the pack is vital to distance themselves any skirmishes on the hairpin. Expect fireworks once the lights go out.
Two years ago Jenson Button produced a battling performance to wriggle himself from a grid start of 4th to finish behind Vettel in second. He drove last year’s fastest time on the Buddh International Circuit finishing behind Hamilton in fifth.
This year however McLaren have been off the boil and a podium finish seems doubtful. Currently the Woking-based team are fifth in the Constructors’ Championship and 181 points off Lotus who occupy forth.
Button managed to squeeze into Q3 after outing out Daniel Ricciardo. The McLaren will start a medium set of tyres. An advantage considering six drivers above him will pit early with soft wheels. Q1 saw a glimmer of his potential for the Brit. He surprised everyone after he set the fastest lap time.
Force India are in home territory however their drivers couldn’t muscle themselves into Q3. Paul Di Resta drove nearly a perfect race in Q2 and said that was down to the confidence the VJM06 gave him. Max Chilton notched his fifth back of the grid start of the year. He blamed his lack of swiftness to an imbalance in his car and is set cement himself to the foot of the championship.
The race in New Delhi was plunged into doubt early Friday morning following a spat over unpaid entrainment taxes. An activist ordered the race to be cancelled as they said Formula One was an entertainment not a sport hinting that taxes should be paid from last year.
A supreme court agreed to move the hearing to next week enabling Vettel to more than likely pick-up his fourth successive championship title.
As of Friday, only 32,000 tickets were sold in a circuit that caters for tripe that number. On the circuit’s debut in 2011, the novelty value came into full affect leading to a sell-out. Friday’s practice was like a ghost town in the surrounding stands and trackside hills. This apparently due to the fact the Indian public do not attend sporting events on a Friday. The same is true for cricket surprisingly.
Hamilton has finished in the top five in 12 of his races this year. A solid 60-lap drive from the Brit will go some way in restoring British sporting pride.