Alonso jumps back to second as Vettel edges away
Fernando Alonso recaptured second spot in the Castrol EDGE Rankings with a typically dogged, relentless drive in the Indian Grand Prix.
As is the case in the championship however his chances of catching leader Sebastian Vettel are growing increasingly slim.
Vettel recorded another dominant weekend in India, marrying chart-topping practice pace to qualifying, where he captured pole, and to the race, where he led every lap en route to a nine-second victory.
In doing so he strengthened his grip on the No.1 Rankings spot, where he now leads Alonso by just over 4,000 points – or roughly 120 per cent of the Spaniard’s total.
The reigning champion has never been knocked off top spot, having first captured it in March 2010.
For Vettel and Alonso, Rankings form echoes championship positions.
Victory extended the German’s points lead over the Ferrari ace to 13 points.
With three races to run a third successive championship is still therefore not assured, but it becoming increasingly difficult to see anyone other than Vettel triumphing.
It could have been even better for Vettel had Alonso not forced his way past Mark Webber with just 12 laps from the end.
Webber, struggling with an intermittent KERS which finally stopped working in the final stages, was just about able to hang on to third ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
That chain of events told in the Rankings. Alonso jumped Webber for second, while Hamilton was held at bay and duly dropped to fifth – behind Alonso, Webber and WRC champion Sebastien Loeb.
He now sits directly in front of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, for whom fifth was enough to preserve his current Rankings of sixth.
Nearly everyone immediately behind the two Britons however fell back.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had been set for a solitary point until Bruno Senna picked him off late on, completing another miserable weekend for the beleaguered Mercedes squad.
Rosberg slipped three spots to 14th as a result, while Michael Schumacher – whose race was effectively ruined by contact on the opening lap – slid one place to 43rd.
In between the pair Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Paul di Resta all suffered falls.
Massa, the highest ranked of the trio, came home sixth after race-long pressure from the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite resisting the Finn, Massa could not prevent a slide of one place to 26th.
For Perez and di Resta meanwhile the damage was slightly worse, each falling two spots – meaning they remained locked together, Perez now in 39th and di Resta 40th.
As they fell, the main gainers were Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg, who ended the race in a straight fight for eighth.
The honours eventually went to Hulkenberg, who vaulted nine positions and into an 18-month high of 52nd.
Grosjean meanwhile leapt up eight spots to 50th, ending a seventh-month spell outside the top 50.