Delhi, October 25, 2013 – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel went quickest in both free practice sessions today for the Indian Grand Prix, held in ambient temperatures of 30 degrees centigrade. Vettel set fastest time in the morning on the P Zero White medium tyre, before switching to the P Zero Yellow soft in the afternoon. These two tyres are a step softer than those nominated for India last year, when most drivers completed the race with just one pit stop. During the afternoon session, Vettel set a benchmark time of 1m25.722s: nearly a second faster than the time he had set in the morning. In both sessions today, his team mate Mark Webber was second-fastest.
The warm weather is set to continue for the rest of the weekend, with two or three pit stops expected for most drivers on the challenging Indian circuit. If Vettel finishes the Indian Grand Prix fifth or higher, then he will claim his fourth drivers’ world title on Sunday: only the fourth man in history to do so after Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Essentially we went for softer compounds this time as in 2012 the Indian Grand Prix was just a one-stop race, and the combination we brought this year allows for a two to three stop strategy. After what we have seen today, wear and degradation is generally in line with our expectations but there have been some issues with blistering on the soft compound while some drivers ran up to 24 laps on the medium tyre. The medium seems set to be the optimal race tyre, while the soft tyre should be the one to qualify on, as it has been about 0.8s to a second per lap faster up to now. Assessing the drop-off in performance will be the key to formulating the strategy and the timing of the first pit stop. Consequently, some teams will also be evaluating the potential benefits of starting on the medium. However, the track hasn’t finished evolving yet, so the final decisions won’t be taken until after free practice tomorrow.”