F1 2012 Indian Grand Prix result: Hamilton fourth as Vettel wins
PUBLISHED: 11:10 28 October 2012 | UPDATED: 13:08 17 November 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton finished fourth in today's 2012 Indian Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel made it four victories in a row.
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star from Hertfordshire finished just off the podium behind Vettel, Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.
Pole-sitter Vettel claimed another lights to flag victory to further extend his lead in the 2012 FIA F1 World Drivers’ Champinship.
Another Red Bull one-two looked on the cards until Webber suffered a problem with his KERS and was overtaken with 12 laps to go by Alonso.
The Ferrari driver crossed the finish line 10 seconds down on race winner Vettel, who now leads the championship by 13 points with three races to go.
Hamilton was the fastest man out on track at the time, as the McLaren came good, and he closed down Webber’s troubled Red Bull.
The McLaren pitwall told Lewis: “We believe Webber has a KERS problem. You’re gaining on him 2s per lap; you can get him!”
The message later came: “We think Webber has an intermittent problem with KERS. Attack when it looks like he’s struggling.
“Keep the pressure on him, Lewis.”
Hamilton got the gap down to less than a second but was unable to pass Webber on the final lap to snatch the third step on the podium.
“I tried to chase down Mark [Webber] in the closing laps, but by then it was too late and he was going too quickly for me to be able to mount a serious challenge,” said Hamilton.
“But I never give up, and, right until the very last corner, I thought I might just be able to catch him, but in the end it wasn’t to be.”
He eventually crossed the finish line fourth, with teammate Jenson Button fifth after setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap – McLaren’s 150th fastest lap in grands prix.
Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen seventh in the provisional results for Lotus.
Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna completed the top 10.
Just outside the points in 11th place was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes GP, while Paul di Resta was 12th.
Third on the Buddh International Circuit grid, Stevenage-born Hamilton was looking to put pressure on the Red Bulls off the start line.
However, Hamilton lost ground to both teammate Button and Alonso’s super-fast Ferrari and ended the opening lap down in fifth place.
Hamilton was at a loss afterwards why he suffered such a slow start.
“I don’t yet understand why I got such a poor start – it lost me ground and then I fell under attack from the guys behind,” said Hamilton.
“During the first lap, I was primarily focusing on not colliding with Jenson, then I saw Fernando [Alonso] in my right mirror.
“He was towing me from very far back. Even if I’d had a better start than I did, the guys in front were still maybe a bit too fast, particularly in the first stint.”
Button said: “The start of the race was my highlight – there were just millimetres between Lewis, Fernando and me.
“I’ve never had a start quite like that before – unbelievably hard-fought – and none of us hit each other. It was so close, so tight, yet so clean.
“It’s just a pity that the rest of the race wasn’t as enjoyable!”
With DRS in play, Button was then overtaken by both Alonso and Hamilton, as the Red Bull of Vettel pulled clear at the front.
It was then a procession for Vettel, who led from start to finish for his fourth successive F1 victory and second around the circuit south of New Delhi in India.
During the first round of pitstops, Hamilton was briefly running second before making his stop for five wheels!
He pitted for both Prime tyres and a new steering wheel on lap 32 – all in 3.12 seconds.
Explaining the unusual decision of switching steering wheels mid race, Hamilton said: “During that first stint I started having a downshift problem – I was having to change down with my right hand instead of my left, so the team elected to change the steering wheel at the pitstop.
“I’ve never had to change a steering wheel during a race before. We’ve done it in Barcelona testing before, but never in a race.
“Even so, the guys did it fantastically quickly, under immense pressure, so I want to say ‘well done!’ to them all. I took the wheel off before I’d even stopped the car, and threw it out of the car.
“The team then fitted a new one, I clicked it into first gear, and I was away – all in just a bit over three seconds flat.”