Another frustrating result, alas. Hamilton got very close to passing Webber, but couldn't manage it, and the unhelpful Australian got third, meaning that both my tip and Mr. Putney's proved red.
As in Korea the start and end of the race was quite interesting but there was lots of boring stuff in between.
Webber got off the line well, the swine, but couldn't pass Vettel, which also made Mr. Nigel's tip red. Further back positions three to five got jiggled a bit, with Hamilton eventually dropping to fifth behind Button and Alonso.
Hulkenberg started well, but Schumacher became the first of three men (the others being Perez and Maldonado) to get a puncture during the race. He drove most of lap 1 with a ruined tyre, and this may well've damaged his car because he made virtually no progress in the rest of the race (he eventually retired near the end).
Massa and Raikkonen were the most boring of the drivers. They retained sixth and seventh after lap 1, and effectively held station for the whole race.
After the first half dozen laps or so Alonso was able to match pace with Webber, and after the pit stops he eventually managed to pass him. The Australian suffered a KERS problem (intermittent failure) and was having some tyre degradation.
With about a dozen laps to go Hamilton (who had passed Button in the pit stops) was catching him at about half a second a lap, but was unable to pass him, rather frustratingly. Vettel was never really challenged by Alonso, who had pulled away quite easily from Webber.
As might be expected, it's a disappointing result to be so close and yet finish red, again. The slight upside is that I feel I've got a better handle on the relative performance of the frontrunners in qualifying and the race. I also pretty accurately (tip aside) forecast how the race would go, with Red Bull mirroring their rivals and retaining (excepting Webber near the end) control of the race. Likewise, Hulkenberg and Grosjean got into the points because Maldonado and Rosberg went backwards, although Hamilton was never in the running for the win.
Here's how I think they stack up:
Fastest in qualifying by a distance, equal fastest with the Ferrari in the race
Second fastest in qualifying, third fastest in the race
Third fastest in qualifying, equal fastest in the race
Alonso's major problem was that it took him a little while to get past Button, and the Red Bulls were already far ahead. He could match but not haul them in, until Webber's tyres started to go during the first stint. Whilst passing Webber was partly due to the KERS issue, the ease with which he pulled away suggests he was significantly faster and probably equal or better, all things being equal.
The Ferrari and McLarens also seemed relatively better on the hard tyre compounds compared to the softs with which they started.
Raikkonen should also not be discounted. He confessed pre-race that he'd cocked up the setup, so to retain seventh is not too bad, and he might yet get involved at the sharp end again.
The Drivers' title race looks like this:
Vettel's lead rises from 6 to 13 points, but that's still recoverable by Alonso. He needs Ferrari to increase their qualifying pace, because, as we saw in Korea and now India, passing the McLarens costs time and enables the Red Bulls to build up a cushion. If Alonso could qualify third he would stand a real chance of victory. Red Bull's race victories are forged not in raw pace in the race, but in the qualifying advantage they now enjoy.
Third place is even more hotly contested (albeit of not much importance). It's actually quite hard to call. Hopefully (for my bet) Raikkonen can keep it.
Abu Dhabi is next weekend, and I intend to offer tips for both qualifying and the race.