The land of the rising sun has given a stellar race this Sunday! The race is indeed gonna be a rising beacon of hope for some of the drivers on the grid today. Sebastien Vettel utterly dominated the race to come out on top and with the retirement of Fernando Alonso on the very first lap, the gap between him and Alonso has been reduced to a mere 4 points.
It was a great race for Felipe Massa too as his star has been fading quickly at Ferrari lately owing to poor performances but a 2nd place finish at Suzuka will go a long way in securing him a race seat for 2013. Massa needed a result like this and his dominant performance from 10th on the grid showed that he still has the talent that almost made him world champion in 2008.
For Kamui Kobayashi this race was important for it was his home race and Sauber has been disappointed with Kamui’s performances. Sergio Perez has had 3 podium finishes this season and this was the first for him. But it couldn’t have come at a better time as in his home race he didn’t disappoint any of his fans and drove a fantastic last few laps to fend off Jenson Button’s challenge and show the F1 world his mettle.
The race itself started out with a bang. Romain “first-lap nutcase” Grosjean ruined Mark Webber’s race on the very first lap as he collided with the back of the slightly slowing Red Bull. Webber had looked set for a podium position after getting a decent start from the dirty side of the track and was only able to scavenge 2 points from the race after the first lap incident. Other drivers were also inconvenienced by this incident as Sergio Perez had to run wide and off the road to avoid the collision while other drivers had to take evasive action.
Fernando Alonso too suffered a first lap exit as Kimi Raikkonen touched his rear tyre wich resulted in a puncture and an exit for Alonso. His lead over Vettel is now only 4 points, one which will be harder to defend given the pace of the Red Bull at the moment.
There were others like Button, Massa, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo who benefitted from these first lap incidents. Button moved to third in the beginning of the race but didn’t have the pace to keep up with the Sauber, Ferrari and Red Bull. He eventually finished 4th and while he was satisfied with his performance, he was worried by the pace of the Red Bulls. Hamilton finished 5th after his setup problems but sounded despondent after the race as he said that the Red Bulls are gonna be hard to beat.
Here are the positions at the end of the race:
01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h28:56.242
02. Massa Ferrari + 20.639
03. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 24.538
04. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 25.098
05. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 46.490
06. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 50.424
07. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 51.159
08. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 52.364
09. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 54.675
10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:06.919
11. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:07.769
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:23.400
13. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:28.600
14. Senna Williams-Renault + 1:28.700
15. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
16. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
17. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
19. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
Did Not Finish
Pic Marussia-Cosworth 39
Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 34
Perez Sauber-Ferrari 19
Alonso Ferrari 1
Rosberg Mercedes 1
The race has highlighted the extraordinary pace of the Red Bulls and since the rest of the tracks are high downforce tracks as well, things are not looking good for Alonso or Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen has been doing a solid and consistent job behind the wheels of the Lotus but he needs a win to to even think about taking the championship. Alonso has said that the next 5 races are like a Mini championship between him and Vettel. It does seem to be the case but even Alonso knows that Vettel has the better car at the moment. Vettel knows that unless he screws up things or Ferrari find some miraculous development, he is heading to his third straight Driver’s title! This championship is turning out to be a treat to watch as there are still Hamilton and Raikkonen in contention, a few retirements for the guys in the front and we will have a 4 horse race again!