Monday, October 8, 2012

Vettel Tops in Joyful Japanese Grand Prix Finish

Photo Source: Pirelli Photo Service

With only 6 races remaining in the 2012 Formula 1 season, the drivers' championship has become a race between a Red Bull and a prancing horse. Steadily gaining points and winning three races up to the August break of the 2012 tour, Fernando Alonso entered the Japanese Grand Prix with a rather secure 29-point advantage on the Red Bull-Renault of Sebastian Vettel. A comfortable lead that not even a full non-points race for Alonso will cause him to usurp to Vettel, a one race will morph the 2012 Formula 1 Driver championship into a close and fierce fight.

Red Bull Racing led by Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber swept the front row positions for the 53.-lap Suzuka preparing to  For the second time in the last four grand prix races, the first corner of a grand prix was decisive event within an event. Just like the Belgium Grand Prix, the blame for the calamity heading into the first turn of the Japanese Grand Prix was placed on Romain Grosjean, the French driver for Lotus F1 Racing. Also the same as the Spa-Francorchamp event, the incident would prove costly for Fernando Alonso. After getting squeezed by a Lotus-Renault, Alonso caught the outer edge of the first corner and spun out in his Ferrari F2012 immediately retiring from the grand prix. Fernando Alonso would be joined by Nico Rosberg from Mercedes GP as an early race retirement. Alongside Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna driving for Williams-Renault would suffer nose damage and Mark Webber. Grosjean was later penalized with a 10-second stop and go for his part in the lap 1 chaos.

A safety car was deployed on the circuit as track crews recover the vehicles and debris leftover from the start of the Japanese Grand Prix. Also caught in the lap 1 mayhem was the second-place starting Mark Webber. Losing a position on the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, Webber's Red Bull-Renault briefly ended up in the grass. While able to rejoin the Suzuka track, the Australian driver was well behind his race-leading teammate. Mark Webber would fight his way to a 9th place result which keeps him in fifth place in the driver's championship.

Photo Source: Sauber Motorsport AG

From the lap 3 restart when the safety car released the remaining Formula 1 cars back to green flag racing, Sebastian Vettel soared away from the field putting himself out of reach any challenge. Stopping only to attend his team's pit stall twice for new tires, Vettel's Red Bull-Renault commanded the Japanese Grand Prix and would cross the start/finish line with a 20.6-second lead over second place. Having won the previous grand prix in Singapore, Vettel became the first driver in this Formula 1 season to record two consecutive victories. The Japanese Grand Prix was the exact race needed to create a serious two-way battle for the 2012 Formula 1 drivers' championship. A non-points day for Alonso results in Vettel closing to within 4 points heading into next week's Korean Grand Prix.

While Sebastian Vettel's well-earned third Japanese Grand Prix made a big impact on the Formula 1 circuit, the additional two podium finishers after the course of 53 laps made the post-race celebration very special. Besieged by his inconsistent 2012 season performance compared to his Ferrari teammate Alonso, Felipe Massa posted a runner-up result. Massa's first podium finish since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, the feat should help the potential of seeing the Brazilian compete with Ferrari for an 8th season in 2013.

Being in Japan, the 3rd place finisher drove the crowd of Suzuka into a justified frenzy. Competing in his third full season of Formula 1 with Sauber F1, Kamui Kobayashi fought off a mean charge from the seasoned Jenson Button to claim his first Formula 1 podium. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, it is hard to believe – I achieved my first podium in Suzuka! It was a fantastic race and we have been working really hard to get to this point since we were lacking pace on Friday. But the Sauber F1 Team did a great job to recover from there. Starting from third obviously helped a lot and also the long run I did on Friday made me very confident for the race. The team has built a great car this year." said Kobayashi. The first podium for Japan's Kamui Kobayashi was overall popular as he stood beside a Sebastian Vettel who he had competed against in Formula 3 in 2006.

Photo Source: Sauber Motorsport AG

Partly recovering from a so-so qualifying performance, the McLaren-Mercedes race cars of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton improved 4 places each. Jenson Button finished 4th while Lewis Hamilton took 5th place. Able to dodge damage from the first lap incident, the second Lotus-Renault of Kimi Raikkonen collected a solid 6th place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonado. Scoring the final point of the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo driving for Toro Rosso hold off Michael Schumacher for the 10th place spot. Claiming from 23rd place, Schumacher's attempt at a better effort with his Mercedes GP car was affected by a 10-grid position penalty coming as a result of colliding into Ricciardo's Toro Rosso teammate in the Singapore Grand prix.

On October 14th, the Korean International Circuit will host the Formula 1 tour and the now-highly competitive point battle between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

2012 Formula 1
Japanese Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Constructor
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
3 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
5 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
6 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
8 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
9 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
10 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
13 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
14 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
15 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
16 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
17 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
18 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
19 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
20 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
21 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
22 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
23 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
24 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

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