What can be seen in all light conditions is that all the momentum is still with Red Bull Racing, as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber occupied today’s two virtual front rows of the grid. Trying to hang on to their coat tails was third placed Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, with Lewis Hamilton fourth in the Mercedes.
After a difficult start to the day, due to a mechanical gremlin on his F138, Fernando Alonso pulled things together in the afternoon to post the fifth fastest time in the afternoon. The Spaniard put in 39 laps, to catch up for lost time, while Felipe did two more in his F138 on his way to seventh place on the time sheet. Splitting the two Ferraris is Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes. The times mean little on a day when the most expensive race cars in the world spend some time acting as the most expensive road sweepers in the world. Even so, the Prancing Horse performance was relatively encouraging, but the first real answer will come tomorrow in qualifying.
The main preoccupation today, as has so often been the case this season, surrounded the tyres. After accusations that last year’s one-stop Indian Grand Prix was a bit dull, Pirelli has gone for a more aggressive tyre choice, with its Soft and Medium compounds and the softer Option was showing signs of graining and blistering on some cars. Dealing with these additional factors makes for some interesting strategic choices both for tomorrow and Sunday afternoon’s 60 lap race. Given the accepted fact that the F138 is not the quickest car in the field, it’s these unknown factors that offer up the chance of gaining an advantage through clever choices. That means one thing at the moment at the Buddh circuit – a long night of analysing data for the Prancing Horse engineers.