F1 2013 Indian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for strong grid position

PUBLISHED: 18:05 25 October 2013 | UPDATED: 22:44 26 October 2013

Lewis Hamilton racing around the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton racing around the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

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FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton battles for a strong grid position in qualifying for the 2013 Indian Grand Prix on Saturday morning UK time, with Red Bull ace Sebastian Vettel favourite to grab pole position.

Indian Grand Prix facts

* Race distance: 60 laps (191.100 miles/307.249km)

* Start time: 15:00 (local)/09:30 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 3.185 miles/5.125km

* 2012 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8) 60 laps in 1hr 31m10.744s (202.184km/h)

* 2012 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB8) 1m25.283s (216.339km/h)

* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB7) 1m27.249s (211.463km/h)

The 28-year-old Mercedes F1 star from Hertfordshire goes in qualifying at the Buddh International Circuit having chalked up the fourth fastest time in second practice at the track near New Delhi.

The opening two practice sessions were once again dominated by the Red Bull duo of world champion-elect Sebastian Vettel, who has won the two previous races in India, and Mark Webber.

Hamilton said afterwards: “We’re working towards a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon, ideally on the second row, and then hopefully a place on the podium. That would be nice.”

Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Hamilton and Nico Rosberg completed the first day of the 2013 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix in fourth and sixth positions respectively after three hours of free practice today (Friday).

The morning session saw both Silver Arrows men focusing on set-up work to dial the car in to this challenging circuit.

In the afternoon, 2008 F1 world champion Hamilton complete a tyre comparison before conducting race simulation work, running option then prime.

Across the garage, Rosberg followed a similar plan, with his race simulation work also completed using option then prime.

In total, the pair completed 120 laps – equivalent to exactly two race distances – during the day’s practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton signing autographs at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton signing autographs at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Hamilton said: “We made some good progress over the two practice sessions today. This morning wasn’t so good but we completed a lot of laps this afternoon and made some good progress.

“It’s difficult to get the set-up right here and this circuit is pretty tough on the tyres, so I think everyone was struggling with the soft compound.

“Our car feels pretty good at this early stage but there are definitely some areas we can improve overnight.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes colleague Rosberg added: “That was quite a tough day for us: we learned a lot but still have a lot of work ahead tonight so that I can find the best set-up.

Lewis Hamilton with fans at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton with fans at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“Generally, it seems that the main question this weekend is who can get third position behind the two Red Bulls, because they look pretty unstoppable at this circuit.

“But I’m confident we will have a role to play in that battle tomorrow and on Sunday.”

Mercedes F1 team chief Ross Brawn felt the Silver Arrows had a “decent” second practice session this afternoon.

“We managed to improve the car balance relative to this morning and did the work we wanted to,” said Brawn.

“As always, we now have a busy evening ahead of us exploring the data and seeing where we can make further improvements.

“We didn’t encounter any major problems today, so it was a good, steady start to our weekend and we will aim to build on that tomorrow.”

Team director Toto Wolff added: “Friday times are always hard to read because of the different fuel loads that teams run, so trying to predict the exact competitive order is more like gazing into a crystal ball than anything else.

“We didn’t have a perfect day when you compare our pace to that of Red Bull but we put in 120 laps, so there’s lots of information the engineers will be working through tonight.

“I am sure it will be a close fight with our direct rivals Lotus and Ferrari, as it has been at recent race weekends.

“We all know how important it is to extract the full potential of our package tomorrow and most importantly on Sunday.”


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