Sebastian Vettel (1st): Led from the start, and had a small pace advantage over the opposition. Only problem was losing pace on the tyres relative to the pursuing Button at the end of the second stint. Hung on long enough without losing the tyres too much (dropped about 2s) in order to be able to stop within a lap to negate any undercut/overcut advantage. Was faster relative to the McLaren on the hard tyres (0.8s off soft tyre pace) and was setting fastest laps at the close.
Mark Webber (4th): Jumped by Button on lap one, struggled to get the tyres to last as long as the opposition, but the lap-to-lap degradation was the same. About 0.2s off Vettel on pace, and lost nearly 5s in the three laps before his second stop. Stopping a lap earlier would probably have got him on the podium. Was probably quicker than Alonso on the hard tyres, but never able to show it.
Lewis Hamilton (7th): A penalised fifth on the grid became sixth at the start. After a quiet first stint (0.4s slower than Button), he was on his team-mate’s pace in the second stint until the Massa incident. Afterwards, he was back to the same pace as the first stint. McLaren were relatively slower on the hard tyre, and Lewis was slower than the Mercedes in the final stint. Without the penalty on Friday, he would have been in the mix.
Jenson Button (2nd): After passing and then holding off Webber, had a quiet race to second. About 0.1s off Vettel’s pace on the soft tyres, it was more like 0.3s on the hards. Best bet of winning was probably to entice Vettel into staying out too long in the second stint, and forcing him to pit first. Red Bull were unlikely to stay out too long, but they were probably relieved when Jenson stopped. Got the maximum result from the car.
Fernando Alonso (3rd): About 0.1s from Button and 0.2s from Vettel on pace. Behind Webber until the Red Bull driver got into tyre trouble in the second stint and stopped too late. Third was more than the car was really capable of.
Felipe Massa (ret.): Only 0.1s from Alonso on pace until contact with Hamilton. Thereafter his pace was 0.5s slower until his suspension failure. Had decent speed, but would have been better off letting Hamilton go.
Michael Schumacher (5th): Great tactics at the start got him up to 8th behind his team mate in the first stint. Slower than Rosberg in the first stint, but made use of his new tyres to close in during the second stint. Took advantage of the lack of tyre degradation to be faster at the end of his stint on the softs than Rosberg was on the new hard tyres – wouldn’t have happened at most circuits. On a hot streak.
Nico Rosberg (6th): Comfortable 7th in the first stint became 5th when Hamiton and Massa collided. Jumped by Schumacher by dint of combination of his team mate having new tyres and the lack of degradation at the Buddh circuit. Was slightly faster than his team mate on pace, especially on the hard tyres at the end.
Bruno Senna (12th): Struggled in the first stint after a great start. Passed by the Toro Rossos and didn’t pick up pace during the stint as much as the cars around him. Long second stint flattered to deceive, with 0.3s deficit due to KERS about the difference between him and the Sutil/Petrov/Perez train. Never realistically in the hunt for a point.
Vitaly Petrov (11th): Took the safetycar gamble by starting on hards, but stop on lap four came too late as he was jumped by Di Resta and Perez. The Force India held up the others in the first stint allowing Sutil to keep ahead despite his tyre troubles. Spend the race staring at the back of a Sauber, and his fate was sealed when his tyres ran out of grip before Perez’ did. No points for Renault.
Rubens Barrichello (15th): One the one hand, a disaster – crashed on the first lap, lost a huge amount of time, had to go for a long stint on the slower hard tyres, and never caught up. On the other hand his pace was good – I have him level with Sutil on the hard tyres, and slightly faster than the final points scorers on the softs. Promising.
Pastor Maldonado (ret.): At the back of the midfield battle in the first stint. Caught Senna, but then his gearbox let him down. No real indication of pace, but it seems he was at least as fast as the Renault.
Adrian Sutil (9th): Great qualifying lap put him at the front of the midfield. Caught by the Toro Rossos in the first stint, and then discovered that the Force Indias couldn’t make the soft tyres last. Slightly fortunate that his team mate held up those who started on hards such that he emerged from his first stop ahead. Responded to the stops of Petrov and Perez, and had good enough pace on the hard tyres to keep them behind. But the Toro Rossos were long gone.
Paul di Resta (13th): Started on hards, and stopped quickly to keep ahead of Perez. Led the alternative strategy train, running a little off the pace until running out of tyres and stopping earlier – necessitating a three stop race. Second stop put him amongst the leaders and lost time being lapped putting him out of contention. Fast in the final stint on softs, but it was too late.
Kamui Kobayashi (ret.): Retired after crash on first lap. That’s it.
Sergio Perez (10th): After poor qualifying it was no surprise to see him start on hards and stop at the end of lap one. Di Resta just kept ahead of him when he stopped on lap two, and held him up for the first stint. With clear air, stood a good chance of jumping Sutil in the stops as his first set of softs were brand new. Spent the race between a Force India and a Renault. Race pace was good.
Sebastian Buemi (ret.): Ran 11th for the first stint until passing Senna. Shadowed his team mate, having jumped Sutil, until his Ferrari engine cried enough. Within 1.5s of Vettel on pace in the race – the Toro Rosso rise continues.
Jaime Alguersuari (8th): Passed Senna in the first stint to run 9th. Jumped Sutil in the stops and demonstrated Toro Rosso were clearly the fifth fastest team on pace by driving away from the midfield. Gained from the Hamilton/Massa contretemps, but didn’t really resist Lewis’ recovery.
Heikki Kovalainen (14th): Kept up with Senna in the first stint with the advantage of new tyres. Lost enough ground in the second stint to be affected by the leaders catching him. Lost a lot of time being lapped to end up 20s behind Senna on lap 40 having been under five seconds down on lap 20. About 2.7s down on pace, but 1.2s slower on the hard tyres.
Jarno Trulli (19th): When your luck is out… Trulli was hit at the start and the car was clearly damaged. He was 5.5s off the pace, and nearly 3s down on his team mate. It’s amazing he kept going…
Narain Karthikeyan (17th): Standing in for Liuzzi at his home Grand Prix, he did a really good job. Just a couple of tenths down on his team mate, spent almost the whole race ahead of the Virgin of D’Ambrosio. Lost time in traffic just before his final stop cost him the place. A shame, as HRT and Karthikeyan deserved to take the scalp.
Daniel Ricciardo (18th): Clearly ahead of the Virgins, and his team mate, until a slow stop with a suspected puncture. Almost caught his Karthikeyan in the dying laps, but still needed to put the hard tyres on before the end. On pace, without mishaps, would have been a minute ahead of D’Ambrosio at the end.
Timo Glock (ret.): Out on lap two. Nothing to say.
Jerome D’Ambrosio (16th): Somehow beat the HRTs despite being a full 0.5 second slower on pace. Had an unremarkable race, which is probably how he did it.