It’s the second of three back-to-back weekends to finish off the season and India plays host to the undulating, sweeping track of the Buddh Circuit in New Delhi. The new and smooth tarmac causes little tyre graining while the layout allows full throttle for 63% of the lap in a race that could be the 20th to crown a champion.
Anything above 5th will be enough for Sebastian Vettel to claim his crown. The German has led every lap in India since its first race, claiming pole and victory in 2011 and 2012, and will be looking to win his sixth race in a row this weekend while Mark Webber is closing on 1000 career points before he exits the sport.
It’s a home Grand Prix for Force India but a points finish is unlikely unless they can change their fortunes in qualifying and the race. Paul di Resta is still looking for a seat next season and will be looking to achieve a points finish to sway potential teams and close the gap to McLaren in the Constructors’.
Tyres have been an issue for Kimi Raikkonen since the change of construction but the smooth track may allow him to improve performances and extend his gap at 3rd in the Championship. The Lotus has been closest to keeping Red Bull off the podium and Grosjean may have the pace to spring a surprise in qualifying.
The fight for second in the constructors is tightening up after the re-emergence of Lotus and Mercedes will be looking for an improvement in Sunday performances to keep them at bay, as well as looking to overtake Ferrari. Hamilton will hope to bounce back from his retirement last time out while Rosberg will be looking for the pace to overtake the Saubers.
It seems only divine intervention can gift Fernando Alonso the World Title. The Spaniard has said he will continue to fight for the championship although recent form suggests he will be struggling to make the podium. Felipe Massa needs a decent points haul to find a drive for next year and support Ferrari to 2nd in the Constructors.
McLaren are struggling to keep up with the pace set by Sauber while Williams and Toro Rosso are slipping further behind. Both Hulkenberg and Gutierrez scored points last time out and a repeat performance is on the cards given the lack of tyre degradation at the circuit. Caterham and Marussia are still off the pace and are unlikely to score once again.
There has never been a safety car in India given the weather and run off areas. The circuit is little used outside of Formula One therefore lap times will only improve as the weekend goes on.
Best of luck for all your SuperBru picks.
By Declan Shepherd