F1 Power Rankings: Indian Grand Prix

With three races to go in the 2011 Formula One World Championship, both championships have been clinched. For the second year running, Sebastian Vettel is the World Drivers’ Champion and Red Bull Racing is the World Constructors’ Champion. Now, attention has turned to the fight for second place in the WDC as Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber are separated by 13 points for the right to be called the first loser. After all, second place is the first loser.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)
Vettel’s excited to win on another track: “The track is a combination of slow corners and high-speed straights which flow into each other. The altitude difference is extreme, rather like in Spa or Turkey, which will give the driving an additional element. Incidentally, we’re expecting the track to have the second-highest average speed of the season after Monza. That means that we’ll be completing a lap at an average speed of 235kph, so there should be plenty of good opportunities to overtake.”

#2 Jenson Button (LR #2)
So how does Jenson tackle a new circuit: “The first time you run on a new circuit is a strange experience because you’re piecing together an incredibly diverse and vivid set of data in your mind. That’s quite an intense experience. You’re quickly gathering everything together – constantly assessing the grip-level, watching for unexpected bumps, checking the kerb-height, run-off areas, pitlane entry and exit, gradient. And that all happens at about 170mph!”

#3 Mark Webber (LR #4)
@AussieGrit has been putting in a lot of time in the simulator: “We have completed some good simulator work, but in terms of the kerbs and other subtle final details, these will obviously come into place right at the end, so I’d say we have an 85% understanding of what the track is going to be like. It’s always nice to drive at a new venue and in the simulator it looks like quite a quick flowing track, very rewarding.”

#4 Fernando Alonso (LR #3)

#5 Lewis Hamilton (LR #5)
Lewis has actually been to India before: “India’s a sport-mad nation – mostly, it’s about cricket, which is understandable because they’re a very successful cricketing country, but I really think the people of India are going to take Formula 1 to their hearts. The reception we’ve had in the last few years has been greater than I could ever have predicted and I think the whole country is ready for something new and something exciting.”

#6 Felipe Massa (LR #7)

#7 Michael Schumacher (LR #6)
You’re going to read a lot of quotes like Seven-Time’s: “For the next race, we are heading to India for the first time; a country which a lot of people tell me is fascinating. I’m looking forward to experiencing this new culture and seeing the track for the first time. I am sure we will be impressed with what has been done there. There has been a lot of interest in the build-up to the event, and therefore hopefully we will entertain a lot of new fans in India. I’ve always been happy to welcome new tracks on the calendar and enjoy the challenge of adapting to them.”

#8 Nico Rosberg (LR #8)
Keke’s kid has never been to India before: “This will be my first visit to India, and it will be very exciting for me to discover the new culture. I am planning to spend a few days in the country and looking forward to doing some sightseeing, particularly making a visit to the Taj Mahal. I hope the first race in India will be a great show for all motorsport fans there, and a big success.”

#9 Paul di Resta (LR #10)
PDR talks about how special this race will be to the team: “Obviously this is a massive race for us in a very special place. It’s the first race for India, taking Formula 1 to a new culture, and a great opportunity for us to put on a great show for the fans. When you consider what Dr. Mallya has already done by creating an Indian team, this is the next step to really put Formula 1 on the map in India.”

#10 Adrian Sutil (LR #9)
Sutil looks like he’s out of a drive next season. Naturally, he thinks he can put in a good performance this weekend “for the team”: “I think based on our recent performances we go to Delhi believing we can score points, and we need to do that to strengthen our position in the championship. We can dream of a podium, but we also have to be realistic. There should be massive support for the team and it would be the icing on the cake if we can give everybody a special result to celebrate.”

#11 Sebastien Buemi (LR #15)

#12 Jaime Alguersuari (LR #14)
Toro Rosso’s biggest weakness? Qualifying: “We are solving these problems now because we have been working a lot on the car and we do have more downforce than we had in the past, so it is more easy to work on the car. But it is still difficult between qualifying and the race. I always say this – when you have a more competitive car, life becomes more easy, driving and overtaking, and now we can show [our potential].”

#13 Sergio Perez (LR #13)
The key thing to take from this quote is that Perez should be considered a future candidate to replace Massa at the Scuderia: “I am looking forward to this new track in India. It is another unknown circuit for me, but this time it will be new for everybody, so it won’t only be me who has to start from zero. On Monday before the race I will actually get to know a bit more about the circuit when I will be testing in the Ferrari simulator.”

#14 Vitaly Petrov (LR #11)
Petrov on the mindset of a driver heading to a new circuit: “It is a good challenge for drivers as you never know what to expect. Sometimes the car will be very good straight out of the box, sometimes not, so it’s difficult to know what will happen until you complete your first laps. When I saw the layout of the circuit I said it would be quite difficult, but for the last two races we have shown good performance even if we didn’t always achieve the results we were capable of.”

#15 Bruno Senna (LR #16)
Senna on his goals for the remainder of the 2011 calendar: “The aim is to keep learning, keep improving, and to arrive in India with a much clearer head after the frustration of my weekend in Korea. I loved the experience of being in the points in Monza, and that’s something I want to repeat. I have three races left to do that.”

#16 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #12)
Kobayashi Maru has been told to watch out for hot curry. It sure would make him drive faster: “It will be my first time in India and I’m very curios to discover a bit about the country. Everybody is telling us to be careful with the food. In a way I’m a bit worried about my stomach, but at the same time butter chicken curry is my favourite food and I would love to have it where it comes from.”

#17 Pastor Maldonado (LR #17)
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that F1 drivers don’t visit anywhere but home, the gym, the factory and the race track: “I think India will be really interesting for everyone. I haven’t been before so I can’t wait to get there. Going somewhere new and experiencing new things is always exciting. That’s one of the great benefits of Formula One – it takes you to places you may never have visited before! The circuit itself looks good and it will be new for all the drivers. For once we will all be starting from scratch! I was at the factory last week working with my engineers in the simulator so I feel as ready as I can be.”

#18 Rubens Barrichello (LR #18)
I wonder if Rubens’ home simulator is really a copy of F1 2011: “I have never been to India and as the circuit is new I have been preparing by playing my home simulator to get to know the track. I am very much looking forward to this race as it will be different to other weekends in terms of culture. I have always wanted to go to India, so this is a great opportunity for me to get to know the country as well as do what I love at the same time: drive a Formula One car.”

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki gives us the most detailed preview of the circuit of any driver: “There’s the obvious overtaking zone at the end of the long straight and then a few pretty standard medium speed corners but I think the main challenge for us is going to be finding a balance that suits the demands of T10 to T13, which is quick, and the haripins at T3, T4 and T16. We won’t know anything about tyre degradation until we get out there, but whatever happens it’s going to be hot, probably a bit mad, but seriously good. I can’t wait!”

#20 Jarno Trulli (LR #20)
Trulli isn’t being replaced by Karun Chandhock. What the hell is Caterham/Lotus thinking: “I’m looking forward to India more than most. I’ll do my usual cycle around the track on Thursday and have a close look at the circuit, and when I get in the car I’m usually up to speed within four or five laps. We’ll run similar downforce levels to the Korea / Suzuka spec and as we were genuinely competitive in the races at both those tracks I think we’ll be ok in India. I’m sure it will be another good race for us, and I think the whole weekend will be fascinating, for us and for the fans.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Tim O’Glock is looking for any positive after d’Ambrosio got beat by Ricciardo last race: “A new race is always a big challenge for the whole team but at the same time it’s always very exciting to get to know a new country and drive at a new track. There are always some big unknowns but this time it’s the same for everyone, so what we have to do is focus hard on finding the right set-up for the weekend… We are getting to the end of the season we continue to push to get the most out of the car and to take forward valuable lessons and information for next year.”

#22 Jerome d’Ambrosio (LR #22)
Jerome finally gets a level playing field with a new circuit… Well, level except for the speed of his car: “What is also good about this is that the track is going to be a new one for everyone – it will equal things a bit. I have also had time to see the new layout and it looks really exciting! I hope to get to grips with the track quickly and, as always, I will aim for a positive result for myself and the team here in India.”

#23 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #23)
Danny Boy has already planned his post-race meal: “I’ve heard it looks quite good from Mark and Sebastian and if they say that then usually their judgment is pretty good. It’s always nice to go to a new place and circuit. I think every driver is excited to see what it is like. I like Indian food but it’s a little bit heavy, perhaps not the best for the diet, I will be quite careful leading up to the weekend but maybe on Sunday night I will enjoy a good curry.”

#24 Narain Karthikeyan (LR #24)
Narain has drawn in place for Liuzzi so he can run his home race: “Driving in front of the home crowd cheering on is going to be a surreal experience. A once in a lifetime experience and I feel extremely fortunate. There is a huge buzz around the Grand Prix already and I’m sure that it’ll be a resounding success that will motivate more youngsters towards the sport and give us the future F1 drivers. Making it into F1 at the time I did was a seriously uphill task and the thought of being able to compete in the inaugural Indian GP was non-existent. But it is finally here and I’ll be on the grid.”

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