With the form and consistency Sebastian Vettel has been in this season, it
was only inevitable that the Young German would clinch his world title in Suzuka
and become the youngest back to back world champion stealing Fernado Alonso's
record set in 2006. Following his solid drive in Singapore, the reigning world champion only
needed a point to seal the world championship. Jenson Button would have to win
all the remaining races with Vettel not to score a single point.
It became clear going into the race weekend that Red Bull did not have the
fastest car on the grid as McLaren had topped all the practise sessions and all
the qualifying sessions until when it counted. Instead of saying Vettel 'pulled
it out of the bag' it was rather handed to Red Bull by McLaren.
In the final Qualifying session, I think the McLaren team were as much to
blame as Lewis Hamilton, who had previously posted a benchmark of 1min 30.617
initially slightly quicker than Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Jenson
Button. Lewis Hamilton seemingly had the pace to claim his first pole and first
non-Red Bull pole of the year. However both McLaren cars were sent out the pit
garage quite late which would prove to be a costly mistake by the McLaren team.
Lewis Hamilton in the middle of 130R corner had to back-off to allow himself
some space to Jenson Button infront of him who was behind Vettel (who was in the
right place at the right time, again). However the clock was ticking and he had
backed off to such an extent, Hamilton had to be passed by Vettel's team-mate
Mark Webber if he was to have a shot at Pole. Webber shot down Hamilton's inside
into the last chicane, at the same time Michael Schumacher attempted to get
infront of the McLaren driver if he was to set a time. Schumacher was forced
round the outside of hamilton and onto the grass but unfortunately both failed
to cross the line before the chequered flag fell. Mark Webber did just make the
cut and ended up 6th on the grid, whilst Hamilton and Schumacher both missed out
on another run. Jenson Button was further unlucky as he missed pole by a
scintillating 0.009secs from Vettels 1min 30.466. Vettel had claimed his 12th
pole position of the year whilst a rather down-beat Lewis Hamilton had to settle
for 3rd on the grid.
Surprisingly Massa out-qualified Fernado Alonso his ferrari team-mate in 4th.
Kobayshi the Japanese driver did well to make it into the top10 and started
7th. Renault's Bruno Senna out qualified his more experienced team-mate Petrov,
who were 9th and 10th respectively. Rookie Di Resta was just 3 tenths off Sutil
in 11th and 12th whilst Nico Rosberg unfortunately due to car problems did not
set a time and started 23rd.
At the start, Button on the less grippier side of the grid made a fantastic
launch only to be shoved onto the grass by a ruthless determined Vettel. This
allowed Lewis Hamilton to steal 2nd place around the outside at turn1. Button
raised the question of a possible penalty for Vettel. He was indeed crowded onto
the grass but considering there was no penalties at Monza for Schumacher
aggressively shoving Lewis Hamilton onto the grass and Alonso edging Sebastian
vettel onto the grass, I couldn't see how the Red Bull driver could be
penalised. However, he was pushing the limit.
Unfortunately for the Japanese fans Kobayshi made one of the worse starts on
the grid and eventually finished 12th and out of the points. Unfortunately for
Lewis Hamilton, his bad luck continues as he was forced into an early pit-stop
after picking up a right-rear punchure. He was passed by Button and lost several
seconds in recovering to the pits and then re-emerged in traffic which
inevitably totally damaged his race.
Vettel who was struggling for grip pitted on lap 20, for a fresher set of
tyres. The German did the fastest middle-sector of the race but Button who had
looked after his tyres and had provided a solid in-lap with the help of a
stunningly quck pit-stop, handed the brit the lead on lap21 after he left the
pits and rejoined just ahead of the Vettel's Red-Bull.
On lap 21, Hamilton yet again made contact with Felipe Massa. Hamilton was
struggling for pace and was about to pit. Massa dived down the outside into the
last chicane but was squeezed by Hamilton resulting in the brazilian losing his
front wing endplate. Lewis Hamilton claimed after the race that he couldn't see
out of his small mirrors due to them flapping and vibrating. He might have been
distracted by the fact he was about to pit. Massa who was rather disappointed
again with Lewis Hamilton repeated his words he's been echoing for much of this
season when referring to Lewis Hamilton.
The Safety Car was then later deployed due to debris on the track. Jenson
Button like he did at the Chinese Grandprix last year, bunched the pack up
before putting the hammering down. He was faultless and in this stint of the
grandprix was pulling away from Vettel at about 4tenths per lap. Vettel was
continously the first driver to blink for tyres all race, and surprisingly
pitted early again for his final stop on lap34. He had to put the
medium-compound tyres on which is believed to be around 1 second slower than the
other compound. Jenson pitted several laps later and comfortably cleared Vettel
who had been held up in traffic. Ferrari's Fernado Alonso pitted on lap38 and
surprisingly and much to the horror of Sebastian Vettel rejoined in 2nd place
ahead of the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton finally passed Felipe Massa into turn 1,
made easier by the DRS.
It was another strong performance from Michael Schumacher who recovered after
his rather clumsy mistake in Singapore. He lead whilst the front-runners pitted
and was able to rejoin, sandwiched as a referee between Lewis Hamilton and
Felipe Massa in 6th.
In the closing stages, Fernado Alonso doing a fine job in possible the third
fastest car on the grid, challenged Jenson Button to the line who was
compromised by running low on fuel. Jenson Button did have some speed up his
pocket and began to pull the gap towards the few final laps. It was a tremendous
drive from Jenson Button who parked his car immediately after he crossed the
line to be able to provide a fuel sample to the FIA after the grandprix. Alonso
finished runner-up and Sebastian Vettel crossed the line just infront of his
team-mate Mark Webber to complete the podium and to become the youngest back to
back world champion.
Lewis Hamilton had struggled for pace, confidence and grip all race finished
a dejected 5th. His performance was a mirror of his performance in Malaysia
where he made a strong start but his tyres each stint quickly faded away. Sergio
Perez unlike his Japanese team-mate Kobaysi scored points in 8th place for
Sauber, Petrov finished 9th and Nico Rosberg who started 23rd on the grip
claimed the final World Championship point in 10th place.
Even though the title is over, there is still a lot of racing to go. The
battle is on for 2nd place with Jenson Button currently on 210 points, Fernado
Alonso on 202 points, Mark Webber on 194 points and Lewis Hamilton on 178
points. The inter-team battle is still alive at McLaren and Mecerdes as Michael
Schumacher is just 3points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in 8th place. Anoter
good race with South Korea to come this weekend.
Results after 53laps:
1/. Jenson Buton 2/. Fernado Alonso 3/. Sebastian Vettel 4/. Mark Webber 5/.
Lewis Hamilton 6/. Michael Schumacher 7/. Felipe Massa 8/. Sergio Perez 9/.
Vitaly Petrov 10/. Nico Rosberg 11/. Adrian Sutil 12/. Paul di Resta 13/. Kamui
Kobayashi 14/. Pastor Maldonado 15/. Jaime Alguersuari 16/. Bruno Senna 17/.
Rubens Barrichello 18/. Heikki Kovalainen 19/. Jarno Trulli 20/. Timo Glock 21/.
Jerome d'Ambrosio 22/. Daniel Ricciardo 23/. Vitantonio Liuzzi. Retired:
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