Greater Noida: Sebastian Vettel was never remotely challenged in the second Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, winning it even more easily than he did the first a year ago. Once he'd shrugged off a half challenge from Red Bull team mate Mark Webber in the first corner, he controlled the race and won it as he pleased. It was his fourth consecutive victory, and the first time since Ayrton Senna in 1989 that a driver has led every lap for three races in a row.
His only moments of concern were when his undertray generated a few sparks under braking towards the end, and when Ferrari's Fernando Alonso pushed ahead of Webber when the Australian ran into KERS problems, and began to close the gap slightly. Vettel had plenty in hand, however, and won by 9.4s to move 13 points clear of the Spaniard in the drivers' standings.
Webber had his hands full with Lewis Hamilton's McLaren in the closing stages, as the silver car belatedly came alive on Pirelli's harder tyre after failing to match either Red Bull's or Ferrari's early pace on the soft. That enabled Alonso to make moves stick after a first-lap charge against the McLarens succeeded in splitting them, and he at least kept himself in play for the title after another feisty run.
Hamilton just failed by 0.6s to dislodge Webber from the final podium position while team mate Jenson Button, who had earlier held third before Alonso overtook and then suffered a slight delay with a sticking left-rear wheel during his pit stop, came through for a lonely fifth. Vettel set the fastest lap on the final tour, only for that then to be beaten by Alonso, Williams' Bruno Senna and Button himself. It was small consolation for McLaren, who had hoped to fight for victory.
Sixth place fell after a great drive to Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who fended off an attentive Kimi Raikkonen all the way to the flag. The Finn momentarily moved ahead in their stops, but Massa soon repassed the Lotus and kept ahead thereafter. Nico Hulkenberg delivered again for Force India by holding off a challenging Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus, while another strong performance from Senna saw the Brazilian catch and pass Nico Rosberg's Mercedes to snatch the final point.
Force India's Paul di Resta was 1.1s behind Rosberg by the flag after a lonely race, then came Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo who just held off Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi by less than half a second. The Japanese driver was involved in a small incident with Pastor Maldonado while they were battling with Senna, which resulted in the Venezuelan pitting with a cut right-rear tyre on his Williams. The stewards, who included 1980 world champion Alan Jones, decided that it was just a racing incident.
Jean-Eric Vergne got the front wing of his Toro Rosso pincered in the first corner traffic, which resulted in a cut right-rear tyre for Mercedes' Michael Schumacher. Both pitted for repairs at the end of the first lap, then fought their way back. Vergne's excellent efforts earned him 15th place, but Schumacher was later investigated for ignoring blue flags (the outcome has yet to be announced), but in any case the German retired his Mercedes.
Maldonado recovered to 16th, half a second behind Vergne, while Vitaly Petrov comfortably won the Caterham race against team mate Heikki Kovalainen as Charles Pic beat Marussia team mate Timo Glock home.
Narain Karthikeyan successfully nursed his brakes to get his HRT home as the final finisher in 21st, team mate Pedro de la Rosa joining Schumacher and Sergio Perez in retirement after crashing because of brake failure. The Spaniard was unharmed. The Mexican, meanwhile, was fighting Hulkenberg for eighth early on when he sustained a cut rear tyre, and retired after two further stops.
Vettel's victory thus puts him 13 points clear of Alonso in the hunt for the driver's title, whilst his team moves up to 407 in the constructors' table to Ferrari's 316, McLaren's 306 and Lotus' 263.