When the track went green, signalling the start of the qualifying session at the 2012 Indian Grand Prix, the air was immediately filled with excitement. After all, with the championship at such a critical stage, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is ahead of Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso by six points, the battle for the title is hotting up rather nicely. And, pole at the Indian Grand Prix would be critical for both the drivers.
However, there was no stopping Sebastian Vettel from taking pole position at the second Indian GP. Vettel lines up ahead of his teammate Mark Webber at the Buddh International Circuit for on Saturday’s race. In third place is McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, followed closely by teammate Jenson Button.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa line up behind them in fifth and sixth position on the grid. Thus, it is crucial for Alonso to have a good start at the race, if he hopes to challenge Vettel. After all, Vettel has won the last three grands prix back to back, and also completed his first ever Grand Chelem (a term used when the driver wins the race after leading every lap from pole, setting the fastest lap along the way) at the Indian GP last year.
However, it hasn’t been easy running for the pack of 24 F1 drivers. The track, although not as dusty as it was in 2011, still lacks the levels of grip required to allow them to push their cars to the maximum, leading to several tricky moments for the drivers. “This track is incredibly challenging for all of us,” said Hamilton, before going on to say “The more we drive it the more we realise that.”
However, the many improvements at the BIC have not gone unnoticed by the F1 community. Norbert Haug, vice-president of Mercedes-Benz motorsport, declared that JPSI deserves “praise” as the organisers of the event, for managing to do such a good job with the circuit.
And what about the only Indian on the grid? Narain Karthikeyan took his HRT to 23rd on the grid, one place behind his team-mate Pedro de la Rosa. “The car has improved and tomorrow we will try to continue progressing to achieve a good result in front of my home crowd,” he said.
Now just wait and watch as the five red lights go out and the 2012 Indian Grand Prix roars to life!