F1 leader Vettel wins in India

F1 leader Vettel wins in India

GREATER NOIDA, India - The Associated Press
F1 leader Vettel wins in India

Sebastian Vettel extends his lead in the championship. REUTERS photo

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix today to extend his Formula One championship lead, though rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari kept up the pressure with a second-place finish.

Vettel won a fourth straight race for the first time in his career - completing a clean sweep of the Asian swing - and now leads the drivers’ championship by 13 points with three races to go, chasing a third successive F1 title.

The one-two finish of the top two drivers meant the fight for the title had now boiled down to a two-man fight in all but the mathematical sense. Asked if he had one hand on the championship trophy, Vettel suggested it was too close to call yet.

“The other one is probably Fernando’s,” Vettel said. “It’s a big step for us but there is a long way to go and we know how quickly things can change.” Alonso acknowledged second was the best he could hope for at the Indian GP, but with upgrades to his car expected ahead of next week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he still had faith that he could catch Vettel by the final round.

“It’s not easy at the moment to fight with Red Bull but we never give up,” Alonso said. “We want the joy in Brazil, not only here, and I am sure we will do it.”

Red Bull’s Mark Webber was running in second place until lap 48 of the 60 when the failure of his KERS power boost system allowed Alonso to sweep past on the main straight. The Australian then had to fight hard to hold off McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps, sneaking into the final podium position.

McLaren’s Jenson Button was fifth and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa sixth. Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus remains third in the title standings after finishing seventh.