The Formula One championship had an ebb and flow for most of the year that said almost anyone could win. Two-time champion Fernando Alonso had led the point standings most of the way this season. But then, as the year started drawing down, the current two-time defending champion, Sebastian Vettel, began to show his strength and talent, winning the past three events and taking over the points lead.
Now the teams assemble just outside of New Delhi, India, for only the second time to run the Airtel Indian Grand Prix. The winner at the inaugural race last October was, who else, Sebastian Vettel. So might Vettel win it again this season or could another competitor knock the champion off? Here are the top five best drivers with a chance to win the 60 lap race at Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida in northern India.
5. Lewis Hamilton - Hamilton wants a smooth exit but something tells me the last days for Hamilton at McLaren won't be any smoother than what the rest of this rocky year has already brought. At times, McLaren and Hamilton seem to be the class of the field but then other times, it just gets ugly. He is essentially out of the points championship. Actually, I think he'll push for the lead but probably something will force the team to fall back a bit.
4. Jenson Button - Not unlike his teammate Hamilton, so too, Button has had issues with his McLaren at times this season. But he was second here last year and has two wins plus three runner-ups this season which should mean he'll be one of the contenders.
3. Mark Webber - The other Red Bull car has been consistently good and he does have two wins to his name this season. He is likely out of the championship race though, so wins will be what Webber is looking for at this point. He should be near the front for most of the race, challenging for the lead.
2. Fernando Alonso - It's amazing what Ferrari and Alonso have done this year. It looked like they were going to steal one this season until the Red Bull of Vettel's finally took charge. He's only six points out and a win is worth seven points over the runner-up. He was third a year ago and Alonso has a knack for keeping his car at or near the front. He will once again be fighting for the top spot.
1. Sebastian Vettel - When you have it, you have it. Three victories in-a-row plus winning this event a year ago say the top favorite to win the Indian Grand Prix is the current champ: Vettel. There's nothing else to say, other than Vettel wins … again.
Felipe Massa might be a longshot choice. The Ferrari driver has been driving better of late so watch for him to be in the top five with a shot at a podium.
The F1 schedule has three more races after this one with the next event the following week near Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates. That's followed two weeks later with the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and finishing up a week later with the Grand Prix of Brazil at Interlagos.
Sources - Formula One, Racing Reference
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.