Vettel again, Alonso still alive

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Sebastian Vettel ties another record with his fifth consecutive Formula One Grand Prix victory in a single season. But still awaits his fourth Championship Crown.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had to battle from behind but finally got back to the front to take his 35th career victory at the FIA Formula One 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

Vettel only had the race win to celebrate following the chequered flag, and even though he is itching to take his fourth Drivers’ title, the way the results unfolded with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso placing fourth means Vettel has to wait two weeks for another opportunity to do so.

The German had a shaky start when the race got underway after contact with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, which caused concern for Vettel that the front wing was damaged on his car.

The reigning World Champion managed to overcome the early issues in the end, but had to wait a while to get into first place, which was taken up by Lotus Renault’s Romain Grosjean who had a remarkable start and led the field for quite some time.

Grosjean not only lost his hold on first place by the end of the race, but dropped down again when Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber managed to leap ahead as the action was coming to a close to take second place from the French man, who had to settle for the third and final spot on the podium.

1st place Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2nd place Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing RB9 and 3rd place Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team
1st place Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2nd place Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing RB9 and 3rd place Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team

Photo by: XPB Images

Alonso may have missed out on a top three finish but the Spaniard picked up fourth place for himself, which has resulted in delaying Vettel’s Championship celebrations until the Indian Grand Prix in two week’s time when he gets another chance to secure it then. Grosjean’s team mate, Kimi Raikkonen improved on his ninth place in qualifying yesterday to cross the line at the end of the 53 lap marathon and grab fifth place.

Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg finished off another race weekend with good results as he took sixth place. The German pipped his Mexican team mate, Esteban Gutierrez in the process, who completed the race in seventh place and in doing so has achieved his first ever point scoring position in the series.

Hamilton’s team mate, Nico Rosberg had a few ups and downs in the race. The German’s disappointing time began on lap 14, when he was under investigation by the stewards for an unsafe release from his pit box and he was forced to serve a drive through penalty for this. Around lap 43, he had a close encounter with McLaren’s Sergio Perez in which the pair came together momentarily.

The contact between the two drivers led to concern over the condition of Rosberg’s front wing, but he made it to the end of the race and finished in eighth place. The damage to Perez’s car was clear almost as soon as the incident occurred, as the Mexican driver had to pit for a tyre change due to a puncture. Perez finished the race outside of the top 10 as a result of having to play catch up after the incident with Rosberg.

Perez’s team mate, Jenson Button, seemed to have a fairly problem free race until lap 24 when he visited the pits for tyre change and he experienced a delay when the right rear tyre was being fitted. Button’s team mate, Perez also had the same issue when he later made his pit stop but the pair managed to overcome this. Button picked up a ninth place finish for himself, which came after a last lap scrap for position with Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa, which saw the two drivers get a little too close for comfort in the process. Massa failed to snatch the place back from Button and the Brazilian driver took the 10th and final point scoring position. Prior to the chequered flag, Massa also found himself under investigation by the stewards for speeding in the pit lane and was issued with a drive through penalty for this.

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo also faced a drive through penalty in the race after the stewards declared that he had left the track and gained an advantage during a scrap for position at the 130R corner. The Australian finished outside of the top 10 with his team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne and the likes of the Force India duo, Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta.

Caterham’s Charles Pic was another driver who had to face a drive through penalty, but the French man’s came early before the race had barely begun. Pic was issued with this as a result of the stewards declaring that he had gone through a red light at the pit exit during Q1 yesterday.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber C32
Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber C32

Photo by: XPB Images

The majority of the field made it to the end of the race, but there were three drivers who failed to make the finish line. Rosberg’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton suffered a rear tyre delamination on his car after the contact with Vettel at the start of the race. Hamilton made a swift pit stop for a tyre change, but he returned to the pits on lap nine and entered the garage which spelt the end of his race and made it his first retirement from a Grand Prix since he joined Mercedes at the beginning of the season.

Hamilton was also accompanied in retirement by Pic’s team mate, Giedo van der Garde and Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. The pair became spectators like Hamilton, after they had a coming together as the race got underway and they both ended up off the track. The incident came to the attention of the stewards for the purpose of causing a collision and it was reported that they would investigate after the race, but it is still to be confirmed if any further action or penalties will be issued.

Following the chequered flag and Vettel picking up another race victory to add to his growing records, the spectacle of the Suzuka circuit certainly delivered some close action on and off the track. Vettel’s crowning of the Drivers’ Championship is still to arrive though and it will be back to business as usual, when the drivers and teams head to New Delhi in two week’s time for the Indian Grand Prix. It remains to be seen whether or not Vettel will receive the ultimate prize there, or if it will be delayed further by Alonso as the season edges closer to the finish line.

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About this article
Series F1
Article type Race report
Tags alonso, ferrari, formula one, grosjean, hamilton, japan, lotus, mercedes, red bull, suzuka, vettel, webber

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