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F1 2013 Indian Grand Prix Qualifying Preview

In the last Indian Grand Prix before it takes a one year hiatus, perhaps more, the championship could be mathematically wrapped up and presented to Sebastian Vettel.

Local Time: 2 PM (India)

Top Three Qualifying Finish: Romain Grosjean @ 2.65 See the Latest Odds

TV: Sky F1 (UK), NBC (USA)

There’s been very little change in the competitive order in Formula 1 since the summer break. Nor was there expected to be. The championship has been well and truly over since Monza, and the last few weeks have been all about the mathematical permutations on when exactly Sebastian Vettel was going to win his fourth successive drivers’ title.

That looks like being this weekend, with a car that once again topped both Friday practise sessions with ease. It’s been a remarkable run of form for Red Bull, not dissimilar to the way they turned things on last year with four consecutive wins in Asia to steal the championship from Fernando Alonso’s grasp.

F1 2013 Indian Grand Prix Qualifying Preview

This season that run’s been prolonged. Why? A floundering Ferrari seem incapable of developing their car past anything that is competitive mid-season. Last year they started with a dog, this year with a greyhound, yet still when the crunch time comes between rounds 10 and 15, the team at Maranello just can’t keep up with the rest of the pack.

Mercedes can be forgiven. Their car has developed but this season was always going to be feeling out process for them. They’ve far surpassed expectations, but where never realistically a championship prospect against the heavyweights that are Ferrari and Red Bull. Perhaps next year, the year they’ve pencilled in themselves, is the year where they take the dramatic progress of 2013 to a whole new level.

And then Lotus have had their own problems. Kimi Raikkonen got the year of the fantastic start, but the resources simply aren’t there to take the team along the same paced development route as the others. Qualifying has been their death knell although Romain Grosjean’s recent performance has given them plenty to cheer about despite the departure of Kimi Raikkonen.

In other rumours, it’s promising to here from Lotus team principal Eric Boullier that Nico Hulkenberg is their preffered replacement for Raikkonen, a label that the young German certainly deserves. Given his performances is an underwhelming Sauber that has come good of late, Hulkenberg has the potential to surprise many and really take the fight up to Grosjean should the Lotus remain similarly competitive next year.

The Indian Grand Prix has had its ups and downs, and this weekend promises to bring to an end a broadly successful three year run. The first GP was always going to start with a bang, such was the excitement of the populous nation that were just thankful to have such a rich and diverse sport in their backyard. Although the race was drab, as it was again last year, the crowds turned up. Second year blues were certainly the case, but considering that there will be no New Delhi on the F1 calendar next year, the crowds should be quite good this weekend.

The track is actually quite good. It’s a typical Tilkedrome but the first and second sectors particularly provide good overtaking opportunities. The long back straight is probably the one most suited to passing in F1, who could forget how Fernando Alonso dispatched both McLarens with ease on the first lap here last year.

Qualifying on a late Saturday afternoon shouldn’t be too different to what we’ve seen the past two occasions in India. Everyone, including all 21 other drivers, perhaps not Mark Webber, expects Sebastian Vettel to be on pole. If not, he’s a shoe in for the front row. Both Mercedes look capable of the second row, but Grosjean’s recent renaissance could halt their plans for a podium.

It’s hard not to back the feel good story of the last couple of weeks, and this will be the making of Grosjean if he can capitalise on recent performance and his newfound confidence to qualify in the top three.

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Romain Grosjean to qualify in the top three.

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