Provisional grid for the Indian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel may have dominated qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix on Saturday, but the variety of strategies throughout the field means that the German driver is far from comfortable at the head of the field. With both Mercedes drivers breathing down his neck on the grid and teammate Mark Webber well placed in fourth on the medium compound tire, Vettel must produce a champion’s drive to secure his fourth world title.

Following qualifying, there have been no changes made to the qualifying result due to existing grid penalties or other sanctions from the stewards.

For Vettel to become world champion he must:

  • Finish fifth or higher
  • Finish eighth or higher if Fernando Alonso wins the race

For Alonso to take the title race to Abu Dhabi, he must:

  • Finish in the top two
  • Should he finish first, Vettel must finish sixth or lower
  • Should he finish second, Vettel must finish ninth or lower

Therefore, should Alonso retire from the race, Vettel will become champion even if he does not finish.

Provisional grid for the Indian Grand Prix

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4 Mark Webber Red Bull
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari
6 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
9 Sergio Perez McLaren
10 Jenson Button McLaren
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
12 Paul di Resta Force India
13 Adrian Sutil Force India
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus
18 Pastor Maldonado Williams
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham
21 Charles Pic Caterham
22 Max Chilton Marussia

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”