Sebastian Vettel, almost inevitably, won his fourth straight Formula One world championship here in Delhi and, as if to banish his few remaining doubters, he did so with one of the most devastating drives of his career.
It was Vettel's 10th win of the season and his sixth in as many races. He joins only three other drivers as quadruple winners but, at 26, he is significantly younger than Michael Schumacher (32), Alain Prost (38) and Juan Manuel Fangio (45) were when they achieved the feat. Only Vettel, Schumacher and and Fangio have won four championships in successive seasons.
Only the mixed-tyre strategies and the possibility of heavy traffic was expected to deny pole-sitter Vettel victory. Starting on the softer tyre, the champion was always going to pit earlier than the four drivers in the top 10 – including team-mate Mark Webber – who had chosen the harder, medium tyre. But Vettel confounded everyone by pitting early, at the end of the second lap, and then carving his way through the traffic with some imperious driving.
It was to Vettel's great advantage that Webber, his most serious rival at the Buddh International circuit, made a bad start, colliding with first Kimi Raikkonen and then Fernando Alonso at the start of the opening lap.
It got worse for the Australian. At the two-thirds stage of the race he dropped out with alternator trouble, his third retirement of the season. He threw his gloves into the car as he walked away from the vehicle. By then, though, the race and the championship was already virtually over. By the time Vettel and Webber had made their second stops at the halfway point the champion was already a decisive dozen seconds ahead of his team-mate.
Even without Webber’s collection of misfortunes, Vettel would surely have won. He did not actually lead every lap, which he had done in the previous two races here, but, cutting through the field from almost the back – he was 17th after his first stop – he was more dominant than ever. To make it a double, Red Bull clinched the constructors’ title as well.
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), who was half a minute behind, and Romain Grosjean (Lotus) completed the podium positions but there was only one Formula One show in town.
"Brilliant drive, you did it in style and joined the greats," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.