Two roosters, one hen house

SP

The inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit last year was pretty much a microcosm of the 2011 season. Besides all the hype surrounding the first edition, from the racing perspective, it was unspectacular, drab and a procession led by the undisputed champion.

Having comfortably sealed the title in Japan, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel came to the Indian leg, sleepwalked to pole and galloped off the blocks on Race Day to leave everyone else scrambling for the leftover. McLaren's Jenson Button the distant second best driver of the season finished a distant second while Fernando Alonso held off Mark Webber for the third place on the podium.

More than the proceeding on the track, it was the novelty factor that made the event a success.

In a striking contrast, the second edition is likely to be more than just an 'event' it's promising to be a 'race', an unadulterated, pure F1 race. Quite like the season so far.

Defending champion Red Bull's Vettel and Ferrari's Alonso come to Round 17 locked in an engrossing duel for what could be a third World Championship title for either of them. Only six points separate the German (215) from the second-placed Spaniard (209) with four more races to go. Lotus' Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen (167), who is third, too has a chance, albeit a strictly mathematical one. Among others, Lewis Hamilton (153) and Mark Webber (152) dropped out of the hunt only recently.

It's, however, Vettel and Alonso's rivalry that has lit up the season, pretty much like 2010 where the former pipped the latter on the final day to win first of his back-to-back titles. This year, it took these two to restore normalcy to what was turning out to be a freak season. Mind you, normalcy and not boredom.

... contd.

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