Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 at Suzuka
Vettel and Webber have secured a perfect result for Red Bull by finishing 1-2 in Japan. The Bulls started from the front row of the grid and were never under threat to secure this finish. Fernando Alonso finished third and keeps his championship hopes up.
Ahead of the start of the 2010 edition of the Japanese GP, Lucas Di Grassis race was over even before it had actually started. After having out-qualified his teammate, Di Grassi crashed heavily on his installation lap to take his place on the grid. The Virgin car hit a wall hard, badly ruining the car. Given the regular pace in these installation lap, this must likely have been a technical issue on the car.
Sebastian Vettel is on pole for the 8th time this year, and of that he only won one single race. Mark Webber aside him will be loking to make a pass again.
None of that though as the lights go out. Vettel made a great start and kept his first place while it is Kubica who fought with Webber and moved up to second place, ahead of Webber, Alonso and Button. The second Renault of Petrov also shot away from the line, but as he weaved along Hulkenberg, he cut left too early, touched the Williams with his left rear and spun off in the wall across the pitlane.
At the first corner, Massa was also making a mess as he ran onto the grass on the inside of the turn. He consequently failed to make the turn and took Tonio Liuzzi's Force India with him on his exit.
The situation triggers a safety car, but that doesn't prevent another early exit as Robert Kubica stops along the track in lap 4. A shame for the Pole, but somewhere he lost the right rear wheel of his car. Later images show the wheel simply detached when Roberg was braking ahead of the hairpin.
Just 5 laps into the race, we have already lost 6 cars, and the entire Renault team can already pack their bags.
On lap 7 the safety car is off the track and the racing is on. Both Webber and Vettel had a good lead while the McLarens are closely behind Alonso. Hamilton started from 8th and has worked his way up to 5th.
At the end of lap 7, Rosberg attempts to pass Buemi on the outside of 130R but hits the dirty side of the track and fails to make his move stick. Teammate Schumacher though managed to get past Barrichello at the chicane.
Vettel is literally flying with 3 fastest laps after the safety car left the track. On lap 10 it's Webber who responds with a fastest lap, quickly increasing the gap to Alonso up to 2.9 seconds.
The battle for 15th place is also unfolding nicely as Yamamoto in the HRT is obviously slower than Trulli and Glock but neither of both can just get close enough to attempt a pass. At lap 16 Trulli finally gets past Yamamoto afther the Japanese made an error into the entry of turn 1.
By lap 17, no driver has pittd yet, and Vettel is still leading. He got 2.2s to Webber, a further 4.6s to Alonso. Button is 10s behind the leading Red Bull while Hamilton has been on the tail of his teammate for the entire first 10 race laps. Hamilton is on the softer option tyre while Button is looking for an extended first stint on the harder primes.
In lap 19 Kobayashi pulls off another nice move at the hairpin, a perfect outbraking on the inside of the turn, moving up to 10th after passing Sutil. Earlier on he did the same to Buemi, albeit a bit scuffy.
Lap 20 marks the first regular pitstops with Rosberg, Heidfeld, Sutil diving into the pitlane. Interestingly, one lap later Sutil puts in a purple second sector, proving it is time to switch the soft option tyres to the hard compounds.
On lap 23 it's Hamilton who pits, getting away from Button's rear. It didn't help much though as he rejoins the track closely behind Kobayashi. That same lap the Red Bulls are hitting some traffic and Alonso at this time of the race is quicker than the leaders.
Vettel makes his stop on lap 25, as does Alonso. After these two rejoin the track in clear air, Hamilton passes Kobayashi by employing the high speed advantage of his effective F-duct. One lap later Hamilton posts a fastest lap and is 2 seconds quicker than his teammate.
The battle for 8th is a Mercedes internal fight. Rosberg is 8th and has the 7-time world champion right behind him. Schumacher is clearly faster, but Rosberg is ahead of his teammate after making his stop during the early race safety car period.
Schumacher is of course on the fresher tyre but he has been running extremely well this weekend. He is told however on the radio that there will be no team orders, but that Rosberg will not fight for his position when a reasonable overtaking move is being made.
By lap 31, Button is leading as he hasn't made his stop to switch from primes to options yet. Vettel is second, but Webber is quickly closing into his teammate. Fastest man arond the track though is Alonso, who is nearly half a second quicker than Webber, who on his behalf is 0.3s quicker than his teammate.
The situation around here is quickly changing as Hamilton is getting closer to Alonso step by step. Hamilton put in a fastest lap on lap 35, cutting away 6 tenths of the Spaniard's advantage and down to 2.2 seconds.
On lap 38 Button makes his stop after a personal best in-lap. Kobayashi makes the same move in the same lap. Button is back on track in 5th while Kobayashi is 11th.
One lap later Hamilton reports he has lost third gear, especially interesting as Hamilton already took a 5 grid place penalty for taking a new gearbox.
Vettel meanwhile puts in a quickest lap after seeing Webber get closer lap by lap. The gap is back up to 2.4 seconds. Button is also upping the pace and is 2 seconds quicker than his teammate who is 4.3 seconds ahead of him. Hamilton was once 2 seconds behind Alonso, but since then has moved backwards, the gap now up to 10 full seconds.
Alonso meanwhile is still surprisingly close to the Red Bulls. Vettel is 2.5s ahead of Webber on lap 43, and he has another 2.3 seconds in hand on Alonso.
On lap 44 Hamilton takes a wide line to let Button pass.
Lap 45 marks another overtaking move by Kobayashi in the hairpin, now taking Alguersuari through the outside. It was again a brilliant move and a clumsy defence by Alguersuari, as he kept turning into the Sauber, breaking his own rear wing and requiring to pit for a new one.
Adrian Sutil then abandons the race and enters the pitlane at the same time as Alguersuari does. Sutil's engine is smoking badly and he nearly spun his car in 130R on his own oil.
On lap 48 Rosberg flies off the track after a left rear suspension failure. It was a violent off in the final part of the esses in S1.
That same lap, Kobayashi passed Barrichello in the hairpin, and one lap later does the same to his teammate. The Japanese is running yet another stunning race.
2 laps before the end, Vettel puts in a fastest lap, trying to get a hattrick as he started from pole and is on course to win this race.
Webber though did set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, slightly ruining Vettel's party. Vettel clearly did the best job here, but in terms of the championship, Webber increased his lead to 14 points.