Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 at Suzuka

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Sebastian Vettel converted a two stop strategy into another race win, further increasing his championship lead. Mark Webber ended second on a three stopper while Romain Grosjean completed the podium for Lotus.

As the lights went out, Mark Webber had trouble getting off the line, but surprisingly so did Vettel. Both were virtually side by side by the entry of turn one. Grosjean however challenged both Red Bull's and charged ahead, taking the lead by turn 1. Hamilton did the same but saw his right rear tyre cut by Vettel's front wing, causing a puncture that required a pitstop.

Some impressive starts were noticed for Alonso once again, going from 8th to 6th. Sutil also got off the line brilliantly and passed both Marussia and Caterham cars by turn 1. There, Van der Garde and Bianchi made contact and made both cars veer off the track into the gravel of turn 1, effectively ending their races. A lengthy yellow flag situation during the first 5 laps prevented DRS to be enabled early on in the race, somewhat playing into the hand of Grosjean who could pull a little gap before DRS is allowed.


On lap 9 Hamilton gets back to the pits and retires from the race. He got a message earlier that the car is missing about 1 second a lap of performance, possibly due to floor damage caused by the tyre. At about the same time, Hamilton runs very wide through turn 1. He's able to rejoin the track but with both Ferrari's immediately behind.

On lap 12 Webber stops, along with Massa. Button already did so 2 laps earlier as he switched to the harder tyres. Grosjean responds and retains medium tyres, staying ahead of Webber after his stop. Rosberg pits as well, but an unsafe release that troubled Perez will get him penalised.

Alonso pits on lap 14 and has lost ground due to stopping later. Vettel pits another lap later and also dropped a bit behind the cars ahead.

On lap 15, this means Grosjean leads Webber (+1.9s), Vettel (+3.3s). The have quite a gap to a pack headed by Ricciardo and also including Hulkenberg, Massa and Alonso. Gutierrez is a few seconds behind but is also creeping closer lap by lap as Ricciardo is still running on his first set of tyres.

In that pack, Alonso exploits Massa's defensive driving again him through the chicane, creating an easy opportunity to make a pass on the pit straight. By this time, Gutierrez has joined the pack with Raikkonen and Perez immediately behind.

One lap later, Hulkenberg eventually gets past the Toro Rosso while Massa attempts to re-take Alonso at the chicane. The Spaniard had none of that though and actually managed to get past Hulkenberg himself on the pit straight. One lap later, it's Hulkenberg again who takes Alonso back. The two are somewhat forming a couple as they jointly pull away from the cars behind.

As of lap 22, Webber starts to up the pace and gains considerable ground on Grosjean. By lap 25 he's less than a second behind the Frenchman.

At the same time Button already completes his second stop. It turned out to be a sluggish one however at the team struggled to get the right rear tyre on.

On lap 26 Webber pits as well and takes on another set of hard tyres. The move also signals Vettel it's time to push and close that 5 seconds deficit to Grosjean.

On lap 29 Grosjean pits and finds himself 8 seconds behind Webber.

2 laps later, Alonso pits, along with Perez, the latter also experiencing trouble as his team, just like with Button, has trouble fitting the right rear tyre. Raikkonen pits one lap later and rejoins into 7th place, still behind Massa.

Ricciardo is then handed a drive-through penalty for going off track and gaining an advantage. Indeed, his pass on Sutil through the 130R forced him slightly wide, and if it had not been for the new tarmac run-off, he would have have a significant crash.

Around about the same time, Massa is handed the same penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The Brazilian was driving a solid race but the penalty dropped him back to 11th, however not far away from the points.

On lap 38 Vettel finally makes his final stop, taking on a new set of hard tyres. He rejoins the track 3.5 seconds behind Grosjean while Mark Webber is 13 seconds ahead of the Lotus. A few laps later though, Vettel is already in the slipstream of Grosjean, followed by an easy pass one lap later.

On lap 42, Webber makes his final stop, switching to the option tyre for the final 10 laps. He was 13.5 seconds ahead of Vettel.

On lap 44, Vettel leads, 3.7s ahead of Grosjean. Webber is third, 3.7s behind the Lotus.

2 laps from the end, Webber gets past Grosjean to make it a 1-2 for Red Bull Racing.


11Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault53Winner225
22Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault53+7.1 secs118
38Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault53+9.9 secs415
43Fernando AlonsoFerrari53+45.6 secs812
57Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault53+47.3 secs910
611Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari53+51.6 secs78
712Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari53+71.6 secs146
89Nico RosbergMercedes53+72.0 secs64
95Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes53+80.8 secs102
104Felipe MassaFerrari53+89.2 secs51
1114Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes53+98.5 secs12
1218Jean-Eric VergneStr-Ferrari52+1 Lap17
1319Daniel RicciardoStr-Ferrari52+1 Lap16
1415Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes52+1 Lap22
156Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes52+1 Lap11
1616Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault52+1 Lap15
1717Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault52+1 Lap13
1820Charles PicCaterham-Renault52+1 Lap20
1923Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth52+1 Lap18
Ret10Lewis HamiltonMercedes7+46 Laps3
Ret21Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault0Accident19
Ret22Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth0Accident21