Sebastian Vettel has started the Indian Grand Prix weekend as he means to go on by finishing fastest during the first free practice session on Friday as the German driver looks to secure his fourth world title at Buddh International Circuit this weekend.
Vettel posted a fastest time of 1:26.683 to finish just under two-tenths of a second ahead of Mark Webber, who is looking to de-throne his Red Bull teammate this weekend and put to an end his dominant run of form at the circuit. Given his pace during the first practice session, the Australian driver certainly looks well-placed to challenge Vettel, who only needs a top five finish to secure the title on Sunday.
Mercedes appear to have returned to form in India judging by the times in FP1 as Nico Rosberg finished an excellent third with Lewis Hamilton not toofar back in fifth place. Romain Grosjean continued his good showings of late, splitting the Silver Arrows in fourth place.
One team looking particularly resurgent on Friday morning was McLaren. Following a difficult season, the team will be keen on sustaining the pace to finish sixth and seventh across the course of the weekend, with Jenson Button finishing three-tenths up on teammate Sergio Perez. They led Felipe Massa in eighth and in-form Nico Hulkenberg in ninth place, whilst Williams’ Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten.
For Vettel’s closest (albeit rather distant) challengers in the drivers’ championship, it was a difficult session. Fernando Alonso’s car was put up on its stands with twenty minutes to go due to a gearbox failure, meaning that he could only finish P11, whilst Kimi Raikkonen languished down in a disappointing seventeenth place.
Although the times posted in free practice are rarely representative of the results across the course of the rest of the weekend, Vettel and Red Bull will be pleased to have kicked off their title-winning weekend in the best possible fashion.
Danilo Petrucci will make his comeback from injury at this weekend’s MotoGP race in Le Mans after missing the first four races of the season.
Petrucci underwent surgery on his right hand due to a recurring problem that meant he could not race in Qatar, Argentina, Austin or Spain for the Pramac team.
The Italian’s place was taken by Michele Pirro for the last three races, but Petrucci is now fit again and will race at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.
“I trained a lot in the last few weeks. This time I did things more calmly, waiting for my body to give me permission to train,” Petrucci said.
“I’m happy to be back and I feel good. Of course we must see the reaction to the first impact with the track as the intense workout made at home certainly cannot be compared to a race weekend. But I’m very confident.
“I want to thank all the people who helped me, my trainer Marco Baglioni, Tommaso, Filippo, and my brother Francesco who have trained with me, pushing me every day.
“I also want to thank the Medical Team of Terni who provided me with all the tools for physiotherapy and Dr. Tarallo, from the team of prof. Catani, who operated me.
“Then a big thank to all my fans for their support. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans and I hope I can soon give to all of them so much satisfaction.”
The French Grand Prix takes place on Sunday May 8.
Kevin Magnussen has won Formula 1’s official Driver of the Day poll for the Russian Grand Prix.
Magnussen started 17th in Sochi after a difficult qualifying session, but made the most of the trouble at the first corner for many of the cars ahead to work his way into the top 10.
The Dane’s pace was impressive during the second half of the race to ensure he finished the race seventh, marking Renault’s first points as an F1 constructor since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The result was also Magnussen’s first top 10 finish in F1 since the penultimate race of the 2014 season when he raced for McLaren.
On Monday, the official F1 Twitter account confirmed that Magnussen had won the vote through its website.
The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a busy race for the FIA stewards as a number of incidents resulted in three drivers receiving penalty points on their super licences.
Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Carlos Sainz Jr. were all sanctioned by the stewards for actions during the race.
Kvyat’s antics on the first lap defined a number of drivers’ races as he hit Sebastian Vettel twice in a matter of seconds, the second hit punting the Ferrari racer into the wall and out of contention.
Kvyat said after the race that it was easy to attack him, but the rest of the paddock was less than impressed, leaving many expecting an apology from the Russian.
After being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, Kvyat was also given three points on his FIA super licence, taking his tally up to five for the 12-month period.
Gutierrez was also penalized for an incident on the first lap after he took out Nico Hulkenberg and sparked a multi-car melee at Turn 2. He too received a time penalty during the race, but was handed two penalty points afterwards by the stewards.
Finally, Sainz was found to have forced Jolyon Palmer off track between Turns 2 and 3 during the race. He had 10 seconds added to his race time and also received two penalty points.
Nico Rosberg saw his Formula 1 championship lead swell to 43 points on Sunday after winning the Russian Grand Prix, marking his seventh straight victory.
The German has not lost since the Mexican Grand Prix back in November, and will head to the start of the European season in Spain later this month full of confidence.
It proved to be a race full of intriguing storylines as Lewis Hamilton fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second, Romain Grosjean took Haas back into the points and everyone got angry with Daniil Kvyat for causing mayhem at Turn 2.
Following the race on Sunday, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news, interviews and insight in Paddock Pass.