Vettel dominates in Japan and blows away Alonso’s championship lead

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.

Japanese GP winner Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium

Oct.7 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel put himself in the driving seat of the world championship title race, by cruising to a dominant victory in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, as Fernando Alonso retired on the first corner of the first lap and blew his huge points lead.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8 leads at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.The reigning world champion did not put a foot wrong all day, from the moment the red lights went out he powered into the distance, controlling every aspect of the race – when anyone tried to attack he simply put his foot down and went even faster, making his third title in a row now a very real prospect.

Vettel said afterwards, “I saw the safety car at the beginning but I had a very good start and that was very important. I knew [that] behind me there was a crash and I saw a Ferrari was out but wasn’t sure which. Halfway through I was looking to see the others and I saw their [Ferrari] car still racing Felipe, I didn’t know what happened to Fernando.

“The atmosphere has been unbelievable all weekend. There has been so much support, the stands have been full and that really makes our job feel very special. Thanks to the team, all the guys pushed so hard. When you’re dreaming at night, you dream one day about racing a car like that. The balance was so good and that’s why there was a gap to behind. I’m very happy.

“It was an important step today [in the championship] but there is still a long way to go. Look at the last couple of races and since Spa – it’s been very much up and down. We don’t know what will happen in the next race but let’s try and take the point points. It’s been a long season with crazy racing.”

GP2 ace and Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird, commentating on BBC, summed up the race aptly, saying: “Sebastian Vettel is in Formula One today, all the others are in Formula one and a half…”

Consolation for Ferrari, if there was to be any, came with Felipe Massa’s strong run to second place. The Brazilian did his shares no harm as he made a great start from 10th on the grid, avoided the first corner melee, and ended on the podium for the first time since Korea 2010.

Massa summed up his afternoon, “I think it’s fantastic to come here in Japan. My qualifying was not so good but we were able to get a good start. I was clever on the first corner to manage to avoid the accident and the pace was really good.

“I was quicker than Jenson [Button] then I was able to pass him and then Kamui [Kobayashi] so for sure it was a better race than what I expected. Unfortunately Fernando [Alonso] isn’t here on the podium fighting for the championship but hopefully we can keep on pushing.”

Unprecedented scenes greeted Kamui Kobayashi as he mounted the steps of the Suzuka podium after finishing third. Fans chanted his name in football stadium style as the Sauber driver produced a top order performance on home soil, fending off a nail biting challenge from Jenson Button in the McLaren right to the very end.

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.A big boost for the Japanese driver, and scoring his first ever F1 podium in front of his fellow countrymen in such a dramatic manner making the occasion that much sweeter.

At his finest hour, Kobayashi was literally at a loss for words during the podium interviews, simply saying, “Thank you very much everyone. This is my first podium, and in Japan. Fantastic, unbelievable.”

Later he added, “It’s a fantastic race for me. I had good pace over all. The last stint was difficult to hold Jenson. I pushed really hard to try and gain a few tenths without making a mistake.”

It was heart break for Alonso and Ferrari, as the world championship leader, by 29 points before the start, saw his lead narrowed down to a mere four points thanks to a first corner incident which eliminated the Spaniard on the spot. The nightmare of 2010 is back to haunt them again.

Alonso understandably dodged the media immediately after the incident, but got tweeting after the race. Writing to his million plus Twitter followers: “Yesterday in quali and today in the race we had bad luck with Kimi, a yellow flag and a puncture today! Now all our efforts for Korea! Great race by Felipe Massa. Fantastic podium.”

The car of race retiree Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012 is recovered. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.“Five great races coming! If the enemy thinks in the mountains, attack by sea, if they think in the sea, attack by the mountains.” Clearly, war is on the cards in the final five races of the season.

Turn 1 had more victims on the day as Lotus driver Romain Grosjean ran into Mark Webber’s Red Bull which sent them both to the pits for repairs and relegated them to the back of the pack. Webber set about working his way through the field to finish ninth.

The straight talking Aussie called Grosjean a “first-lap nutcase” and added “maybe he needs another holiday” in reference to the one lap ban slapped on the Frenchman after his antics at Spa.

Grosjean did not feature again in the race and pulled into the pits late in the race to call it a day, and explained,  “After the ban, I’m very careful at the start. I kept my line and was trying to avoid contact with Sergio Perez. I didn’t see the delta speed with Mark [Webber]. I was just trying to avoid any contact – it didn’t work. It was a stupid clash. I haven’t had a chance to speak with the team.”

There was also contact between Bruno Senna’s Williams and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg which resulted in an early shower for the German, and a drive through for the Brazilian, who eventually finished 14th.

Safety car leads the field. Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.The early drama brought out the safety car for several laps which played havoc with well laid out pit stop plans, with the end result being that drivers were able to run longer first stints than expected.

Big winner, thanks to the retirements, was Jenson Button who found himself in third behind the safety car and thereafter was in the hunt after starting from eighth on the grid, he nearly took a podium spot. A gearbox niggle affected his progress as it kept shifting through neutral. Nevertheless last year’s winner gave it his best shot and perhaps an extra lap would have seen him steal the podium from the local hero.

Button commented afterwards, “I had a good start, but I lost a place to Felipe during the stops. He was very quick so I don’t think I would have been able to keep him behind anyway. The Red Bulls are a little bit quicker than we thought. For some reason, this is always a good circuit for Red Bull. They’re going well and they’re doing a good job.”

For Lewis Hamilton fifth place after starting tenth was a good return for a days graft, although he was suckered by Sergio Perez going into the hairpin on lap five, but revenge was sweet after the stops, on lap 20, when Perez tried a move on the outside at the same place but out braked himself, got on the marbles ended facing the wrong way in the gravel and beached. Race over for McLaren’s soon to be new boy.

Lewis Hamilton McLaren versus Sergio Perez Sauber  Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday 7 October 2012.McLaren’s soon to be old boy went on to finish fifth but never really threatening his teammate ahead and comfortably fending off Raikkonen who survived the Turn 1 fracas and some wheel to wheel stuff to finish sixth in the Lotus  – which appears to have lost its edge in recent races

Starting sixth on the grid, Force India and Nico Hulkenberg would have expected better things during the race. But it was not to be as the German had a busy afternoon defending, and was rewarded with seventh place.

Behind him in eighth was Pastor Maldonado who kept out of trouble in the Williams which lacked the kind of pace that has allowed the Venezuelan to challenge near the front. Consequently he had a subdued race in the Suzuka sunshine.

As mentioned Webber finished ninth, beating fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo who claimed the final point for Toro Rosso, after fending off Michael Schumacher in the final laps – the six times winner of the Japanese GP finishing 11th after starting down in 23rd.

Subbed by AJN.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka – Sunday, 7 October 2012

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 53 Winner 1 25
2 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 53 +20.6 secs 10 18
3 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 53 +24.5 secs 3 15
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 53 +25.0 secs 8 12
5 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 53 +46.4 secs 9 10
6 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 53 +50.4 secs 7 8
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 53 +51.1 secs 15 6
8 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 53 +52.3 secs 12 4
9 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 53 +54.6 secs 2 2
10 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 53 +66.9 secs 14 1
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 53 +67.7 secs 23
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 53 +83.4 secs 11
13 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 53 +88.6 secs 19
14 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 53 +88.7 secs 16
15 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 52 +1 Lap 17
16 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 18
17 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 52 +1 Lap 22
18 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 20
19 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 51 +2 Laps 4
Ret 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 37 +16 Laps 21
Ret 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 32 +21 Laps 24
Ret 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 18 +35 Laps 5
Ret 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 0 +53 Laps 6
Ret 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 0 +53 Laps 13
  • JodyRenza

    Oh my gosh…here comes that finger up our noses again with the championship!
    Now the dirty driving will start to kick in during the last 5 races..great stuff!
    Funny how the “moving” drivers did not have good results today..

  • McHare

    Well done Seb. Can’t see past another WDC for The German, would deserve it too, but still like to think McLaren can get the constructors. One things for sure, they won’t do it with race team set up cock ups like those witnessed this weekend. Reservations about Sam Micheal. Oh yes.

  • psych4191

    1. Grosjean must be banned for life. He hasn’t learned a thing.

    2. Bruno Senna had the worst luck. Without the block from Vergne, he doesn’t even get near Rosberg today, probably finishes in the top 6.

    3. KK showed he definitely has the maturity to drive any car on the grid

    4. Massa probably just signed his 2013 contract.

  • kaka007

    Kamui’s and Massa’s future looks brighter now..
    Red Bull was unstoppable with vettel in it,Webber unlucky..

  • Tamburello_1994

    I want to be as positive as psych4191 about Massa. Hopefully Ferrari sees no benefit into letting go of Felipe now although it could be still too little too late.

    Looks like Vettel smells (Alonzo / Ferrari) blood in the water . . .

    Glad I stayed up late to see Kobayashi moment on the podium. Unfortunately SPEED Channel had some technical gremlins and we here missed a good segment of the race.

  • McLarenfan

    Jenson drove well today fantastic battle with Kobayashi.
    Kobayashi awesome drive.
    Vettel was just dancing in to the lead.
    Romain Grosjean needs some mind management but Johnny said it should be a Bye Bye, he might be right.

  • psych4191

    @Tamburello, I’m actually tempted to call ESPN and beg them to buy rights to F1 so we don’t have to watch Speed’s crap coverage ever again.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    It was expected that Alonso will not be able to maintain just with ongoing luck, Luck is a two-bladed sword, and now he gets what Vettel got in the beginning.

    Now he simply needs to beat Vettel if he wants to win – but there are no more Monza/Canada type tracks in the Calendar…Vettel is clearly the favourite now.

    Let’s see what Ferrari has in development. But 8 tence a lap….looks too much.

  • psych4191

    @McLarenFan

    I kind of want to see Grosjean and Maldonado’s repair bills.

  • Butterfly

    Alonso really made a mess today. Wiped out his points advantage at a race where the Ferrari were second only to the Bulls. Heck, even Felipe managed to finish 2nd.

    What can I say, it looks like Fernando is starting to crack, that was clearly his mistake in colliding with the Lotus. I guess he wants that title way too much.

    Kudos to Red Bull and Vettel, looks like they get to keep those trophies for another year.

    Oh, and Domenicali has got to be the biggest p&uss&y in F1 for not having the guts to fire the chief designer responsible for these horror cars.

  • McLarenfan

    @ psych4191;
    The only man on the planet that can look at those without having heart failure is Bernie any one else would need a defibrillator standing by.

  • Tamburello_1994

    @ psych4191

    Those were the days when ESPN 2 was the place to be. I for sure can dig up an old VHS tape circa 1993. Glory days!

    It would be sick if S. Vettel came back to win the title this year. Year(s) before folks wold argue the car was responsible for the dominance, But what will be the excuse this year? Just amazing watching him rack up the stats at the rate he’s doing it. He simply drove away from everyone today, That aint fair.

    Winning the Championship this year would no doubt put him among the all-time greats

  • Chris

    Absolutely Beautiful Drive by Top 3
    Massa Clearly proved Ferrari was not a Slow Car as Stefano used to say all the Weekends
    Kamui you have a Great Day getting your First podium and that was too in your Home soil was a absolute Beauty and Holding Jenson behind shows how much you are capable of
    A Brilliant Drive by Sebastian.

  • Speedo

    The Red Bull car was unbeatable during FP, qualifying and the race. Happy to see Kobayashi and Massa get on the podium as they both deserved it. McLaren at it again with their bungled pit stops for both drivers. The second pit stop by Button was delayed by over 1 second which cost him a podium finish at Kobayashi’s expense. Damage limitation by Lewis by coming in fifth. Bad luck for Alonso being taken out by Kimi causing a puncture. Alonso’s and Lewis’ chance of a WDC is hanging by a thread. Vettel good for WDC, 3rd year running.

    Watching it on ESPNSTAR sports, there was a comment made by the soon to be McLaren driver Perez blaming Lewis because he went off track on a move on the outside to overtake Lewis, and the commentators called it a stupid move and Lewis was not responsible. Perez went off a second time soon after and this time there was no cars close by for him to blame. Summing up the race Paffet too called it a stupid move. Just because Lewis is moving to Merc does Perez expect Lewis to move over during the race too. Perex too has had many off/on track incidents. McLaren better have a word with him at the end of the season. What can one say about Grosjean, Webber said it all. Hope McLaren and the Ferrari will match the Red Bulls the next few races to make the topsy turvy WDC more exciting.

  • hillside

    no way a scrub like Perez will take a WDC LW and Kimi on the outside with the same pace.
    Perez has to wait next year to act like a diva

  • AlonsoFan

    Redbulls have been mega here.I hope Alonso and Kimi stop Vettel’s third title hopefully in 2012.

  • fools

    blows away Alonso’s lead? wtf…Alonso still leads with 2 DNF’s…

    I turned off the tv as soon as Alonso crashed. I knew it was a puncture. The tires slipped off the rim. God luck Alonso…your still leading the WDC.!

  • fools

    Alonso_is_slow
    Hey idiot. your comment is hideous. Vettel DNF because of alternators from Renault. Alonso is losing points because of “real” DNF’s other on the grid causing accidents. If i recall Vettel hasnt had a accident to where he DNF yet. Ferrari’s reliability has put every car to shame except the Sauber in some degree. Where the hell are you win Alonso in winning and on podium scum bag. smh

    Go dig your grave. Alonso will win the WDC.

  • Nemo

    He sure is looking good for his 3rd WC title. Top 10 of all time wins, 3rd in all time poles. Love him or loathe him, he sure is the real deal

  • Alonso_is_slow

    @fools

    cry more i like it.

    butterfly is much more of a person than you.

    fool us boy, knows nothing about the world.