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Sebastian Vettel wins inaugural Indian Grand Prix

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Indian Grand Prix

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Greater Noida

Red Bull's champion Sebastian Vettel was impregnable as he became the first man to win the Indian Grand Prix.

It was a straightforward win for pole-sitter Vettel but Jenson Button battled well to take second for McLaren.

Button passed Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who finished third, and Mark Webber's Red Bull on the first lap.

Lewis Hamilton hit Felipe Massa's Ferrari as he attempted to pass for fifth but this time Massa was punished and Hamilton finished seventh.

India made a vibrant debut on the F1 calendar, with the drivers universally praising the new Buddh International Circuit, built on farmland 25 miles outside the capital, Delhi.

Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso

Indian GP - top three drivers

But despite the colour and novelty off track, there was a familiar sight on it as Red Bull's double world champion ran away with the race to notch up his 11th win of 2011.

As Button and Webber fought over second place, Vettel set about building his lead and led the entire distance on his way to the chequered flag.

"Yes boys, yes we did," he celebrated on the team radio. "New track, new challenge."

Button had taken advantage of a wobble by Alonso into the first corner to jump the Ferrari before smoothly passing Webber on the straight to move up to second on the opening lap of the race.

Webber hustled Button hard but the 2009 champion hung on and pulled out a three-second lead before the first round of stops.

Lewis Hamilton

Massa gave me no space - Hamilton

Button had set his heart on winning here but he could not close down Vettel and settled for his 10th podium of the season.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle said: "Button's the only man recently who can hold a candle to Vettel on race pace."

Webber lost third place at the second round of stops when Alonso came out ahead of him after running longer in his middle stint and the Australian was not quite able to get close enough to try passing the Ferrari.

Hamilton's race had been hindered by a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags - used to warn the drivers to slow down - in Friday practice but there was more drama to come on race day.

The 2008 champion lost a place to Massa off the line and spent a frustrating first stint behind the Brazilian's Ferrari.

ANDREW BENSON'S BLOG

After the first round of stops, Hamilton took matters into his own hands and attempted to pass Massa on the inside of the fast Turn Five, only for the two to make contact instead.

"Felipe just turned in on me," Hamilton said on the pit-to-car radio. "He didn't give me any space."

He may have been making an appeal to the authorities as twice this season he has found himself in hot water with the stewards for clashes with Massa in Monaco and Singapore.

But this time the stewards voted in his favour and Massa, whose car survived with minimal damage while Hamilton had to collect a new front wing and fresh tyres, was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

Massa made it clear he knew Hamilton was beside him, but said: "I braked later than him, I was in front, I was on the grippy area as well and then I started to turn and I couldn't see him on the left.

"He is behind and he touched my rear wheel. To be honest, I don't understand why I have the penalty."

Jenson Button - McLaren Mercedes

Vettel impossible to catch - Button

Things got worse for Massa when he retired from the race after breaking his suspension as he rumbled over a kerb.

Hamilton passed Jaime Alguersuari after 31 laps but despite pushing hard he could not get past either of the Mercedes and crossed the line in seventh. He was the only man inside the top 10 to make three stops.

Michael Schumacher finished fifth ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg in a private battle between the two Mercedes drivers.

Alguersuari took ninth for Toro Rosso, with Adrian Sutil collecting the final point for Force India at their home race and team-mate Paul Di Resta finishing 13th.



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see also
Indian Grand Prix race results
08 Mar 11 |  Results
Indian Grand Prix as it happened
30 Oct 11 |  Formula 1
Massa not planning Hamilton truce
30 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Button leads praise of Indian GP
30 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Vettel takes inaugural India pole
29 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton to remove distractions
29 Oct 11 |  Formula One
Indian Grand Prix starting grid
08 Mar 11 |  Results
Hamilton given India grid penalty
28 Oct 11 |  Formula One


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