Apart from a rather fun first lap, the Indian Grand Prix fulfilled all the fears from the Friday Practice analysis piece. Not the most fun of races. Indeed the suggestion that the cars were pretty much in race pace order at the start was only really challenged by a certain Fernando Alonso. In terms of strategy, the one-stop was (as predicted) used by pretty much everyone (except Perez who I think damaged that set of tyres in qualifying) and the undercut was ineffective. In fact, the biggest gains were made by those who spent as long as possible on the soft tyre, as it didn’t degrade and was about 0.8s faster than the hard tyre for most teams. Starting on the soft, and going as far as you could, was the way to go. The person who gained the msot from doing this? Lewis Hamilton. But it still didn’t quite get him a place.
So the underlying pace as I have it from the model fits are (relative to Vettel on soft tyres):
1. Vettel (Red Bull); +0.0s on soft, +1.5s on hard: Began to struggle on the softs in the last few laps where Hamilton didn’t, but had so much in hand that he was slower than Webber’s KERS afficted machine on the hard tyres. Easy.
2. Alonso (Ferrari); +0.3s on soft, +1.2s on hard: Not as fast as Red Bull but faster than McLaren. Master of maximisation.
3. Webber (Red Bull); +0.1s on softs, +1.3 on hard: The Red Bull had it’s biggest advantage on the soft tyres. Webber should have been able to hold on to second easily without the KERS issues.
4. Hamilton (McLaren); +0.4s on soft, +1.2 on hard: Didn’t have the pace on the soft tyres, but swapped it for durability. Was picking up pace at the end of the soft-tyre stint better than any other car. Needed to be able to do it for another 10 laps to get second, though – which was unlikely to happen. Pace on the hards was good – both McLaren and Ferrari seemed to be as fast as Red Bull on hards.
5. Button (McLaren); +0.7s on soft, +1.3s on hard: Didn’t have the pace on the soft tyres. Lonely race.
6. Massa (Ferrari); +0.9s on soft, +1.9s on hard: Not in Alonso’s league this time. Didn’t quite hang on to Button, and didn’t keep the softs in good shape. Was able to keep Raikkonen behind, but was much slower than the lead Ferrari.
7. Raikkonen (Lotus); +0.9 on soft (traffic), +1.7s on hard (traffic): How fast could he go? He was faster than Massa, but there’s no evidence that he was that fast. Might have troubled Button, probably not more.
8. Hulkenburg (Force India); +1.0s on soft, +1.7s on hard: Becoming a bit of a star. Once Perez stopped, his pace became very good (his times were consistent on softs, rather than improving as was the case with most). Not as fast as Grosjean on his softs, but kept him behind. That’s a few good races in a row. But not a Ferrari drive.
9. Grosjean (Lotus); +1.1s on soft, +1.1s on hard: Stuck behind Rosberg in the first stint and once released set the fastest fuel corrected stint of the race on hard tyres. Maybe he was able to save a lot of the tyres – but these laps were disproportionately fast. Were Hulkenburg not in the way, aould have caught the Massa/Raikkonen battle.
10. Senna (Williams); +1.2s on soft, +1.9s on hard: Eventful race doesn’t really show in the trace. Was faster than Maldonado, and deserved his point. Best race for a while.
11. Rosberg (Mercedes); +1.3s on soft, +2.2s on hard: Mercedes are not fast – except in qualifying. Uneventful race, mainly spent looking backwards.
12. Di Resta (Force India): +1.7s on soft, +2.0s on hard: As Hulkenburg’s star rises, Di Resta’s fades. Well beaten again, and really struggled in the first stint where the contrast between the two was huge. Disappointing.
13. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso): +1.5s on soft, +2.4s on hard: Went for hards in the first stint, but didn’t have the pace to jump those ahead.
14. Kobayashi (Sauber); +1.3s on soft, +2.3s on hard: Mirrored Ricciardo’s strategy and spent almost the entire race looking at the back of the Toro Rosso. Was faster (not much), but couldn’t get by.
15. Vergne (Toro Rosso); +1.8s on soft, +2.6s on hard: Not as fast as Ricciardo this time.
16. Maldonado (Williams); +1.5s on soft, +1.8s on hard: Not as fast as Senna, although ahead when he punctured. One to forget.
17. Petrov (Caterham); +2.7s on soft, +3.4s on hard: Was way behind Kovalainen after getting stuck in traffic early on, but matched his pace. Got past when the Finn hit trouble, but was quicker on the hards tyres. Good performance.
18. Kovalainen (Caterham); +2.7s on soft, +3.6s on hard: KERS problem cost him a place to his team-mate, but it could be argued that he wasn’t the quicker Caterham driver this weekend.
19. Pic (Marussia); +2.9s on soft, +3.7s on hard: Nearly, but not quite at Caterham pace. Dropped to 20s from Petrov by the end, but another strong performance.
20. Glock (Marussia); +3.0s on soft, +3.8s on hard: Beaten on pace by Pic. Finished way behind after getting stuck behind an HRT in the first stint.
21. Karthikeyan (HRT); +4.0s on soft, +4.5s on hard: There is a gap to HRT after Marussia’s recent upgrades. As fast as de la Rosa, though.
22. Schumacher (Mercedes); +1.4s on soft, no data on hard: His two stints on softs were the only check of last year’s fuel model, which thankfully checked out really well. Apart from this, he wasn’t as quick as Rosberg, but gained from not having a stint on the hards due to the first lap puncture.
Ret. de la Rosa (HRT); +4.0s on soft, +4.5s on hard: Ahead of Karthikeyan – but matched for pace.
Ret. Perez (Sauber); +1.2s on soft, no data on hard: A little faster than Kobayashi, but damaged tyres in qualifying meant that they didn’t last in the race. Two stops would have probably got him the last point if he had been able to keep from overdriving.