Sebastian Wins in Suzuka as Button Struggles
Sebastian Vettel reignited his slim championship challenge with a light’s to flag victory at the Japanese GP today. The young German driver drove magnificently to claim his 3rd victory of the season. Championship leader Jenson Button could only manage 8th behind his own team mate & championship rival Rubens Barrichello.
Vettel led away from pole position at the start, defending heavily from the fast starting Lewis Hamilton who moved up to 2nd ahead of Toyota’s Jarno Trulli. Jenson Button slipped at the start behind the KERS powered McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen, but it was the Toro Rosso of Buemi who had the worst start slipping from 13th to 19th.
An early collision between Kovalainen and Sutil ensued on Lap 13 when the Force India caught the Finn unaware going into the final chicane. The German looked to have the pass complete until Heikki tried a vain attempt at regaining the position forcing Sutil into a spin. This allowed Button past the pair of them and up into a points paying position.
After the first round of stops the front runners remained in the same order with Vettel ever increasing his lead over the chasing pack. Kovalainen’s run in with Sutil had to be the low point of his weekend, but a brilliantly opportunist move put on Ginacarlo Fisichella as they both emerged from the pits must have been the high point. The two had pitted together and as they emerged Kovalainen deployed his KERS to barge his way past the napping Fisichella.
Further towards the front a problem with Lewis Hamilton’s KERS meant that at the second round of stops the Toyota of Trulli was able to pass him after staying out longer and setting some personnel best sector times.
It looked all set at the front, but a battle between the Brawn’s & Nico Rosberg’s Williams looked to be brewing nicely. Button who had been chasing his team mate down all afternoon was only 5 seconds behind him after their second set of stops, but it was Nico Rosberg who was trying to get the jump on the pair of them. The young German was going well and was up in 4th, when an out of control Jamie Alguersuari crashed prompting the safety car to be deployed on Lap 44.
The young Toro Rosso driver had simply lost control of the car and went head on into the barriers at the end of the130R corner. Fortunately he was uninjured, but it ended a miserable weekend for the team as Buemi had already retired with a suspected clutch problem on Lap 11.
Rosberg quickly pitted under the safety car and when he emerged he had not only managed to get ahead of both the Brawn’s, but also the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. The race restated with Vettel leading comfortably at the front. With the pack now tightly bunched up Jenson Button had to fight off increasing pressure form Robert Kubica who fancied his chances of denying the Championship leader the final point of the day.
Unfortunately there were not enough laps left for Kubica to pass Button and Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to take a very impressive win, the first for the team since the German GP back in July.
However after the race questions were raised, primarily by Jenson Button over Nico Rosberg and whether he lifted off under safety car conditions whilst trying to get back to the pits. A decision is set to be made by the race stewards after the race, but it could see the Williams driver be hit with a 25 second penalty. That would drop him out of the points and hand Brawn the Constructors Championship off track.
Mark Webber’s miserable weekend continued, with a puncher and 5 separate visits to the pits during the race. No surprise that he turned his afternoon into a mini test session. Although he did manage to collect the fastest lap of the race, setting a time of 1:32.569 secs. Some consolation for the Aussie, as he rues a weekend to forget.
Thus the championship closes up a bit at the top, and certainly takes it back to being a 3 horse race instead of a 2. With Vettel taking 9 points out of Jenson Button today, it is still a very long shot for the young German driver, but as was mentioned in commentary parallels have already been drawn back to 2007 and Kimi Raikkonen overturning a 17 point lead to win the title by a point.
With only 2 races left Vettel is 16 pints behind and only 20 points are still up for grabs. Rubens Barrichello failed yet again to capitalise on out qualifying Button and is simply not scoring heavily enough to make a dent on the Brits championship lead. With Vettel now having the momentum we will have to see what will happen in the two remaining races.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull||1:28:20.443|
|2||J Trulli||Toyota||+4.8 secs|
|3||L Hamilton||McLaren||+6.4 secs|
|4||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+7.9 secs|
|5||N Rosberg||Williams||+8.7 secs|
|6||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+9.5 secs|
|7||R Barrichello||Brawn||+10.6 secs|
|8||J Button||Brawn||+11.4 secs|
|9||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+11.7 secs|
|10||F Alonso||Renault||+13.0 secs|
|11||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+13.7 secs|
|12||G Fisichella||Ferrari||+14.5 secs|
|13||A Sutil||Force India||+14.9 secs|
|14||V Liuzzi||Force India||+15.7 secs|
|15||K Nakajima||Williams||+17.9 secs|
|16||R Grosjean||Renault||+1 Lap|
|17||M Webber||Red Bull||+2 Laps|
|DNF||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+10 Laps|
|DNF||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||+42 Laps|
|2||F Massa||Ferrari||+16.1 secs|
|3||G Fisichella||Renault||+23.9 secs|
|4||J Button||Honda||+34.1 secs|
|5||K Raikkonen||McLaren||+43.5 secs|
|6||J Trulli||Toyota||+46.7 secs|
|7||R Schumacher||Toyota||+48.8 secs|
|8||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+76.0 secs|
|9||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+76.9 secs|
|10||N Rosberg||Williams||+1 Lap|
|11||P De la Rosa||McLaren||+1 Lap|
|12||R Barrichello||Honda||+1 Lap|
|13||R Doornbos||Red Bull||+1 Lap|
|14||V Liuzzi||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|15||T Sato||Super Aguri||+1 Lap|
|16||T Monteiro||Midland F1||+2 Laps|
|17||S Yamamoto||Super Aguri||+3 Laps|
|DNF||S Speed||Toro Rosso||+5 Laps|
|DNF||M Webber||Williams||+14 Laps|
|DNF||M Schumacher||Ferrari||+17 Laps|
|DNF||D Coulthard||Red Bull||+18 Laps|
|DNF||C Albers||Midland F1||+33 Laps|
|2||G Fisichella||Renault||+1.6 secs|
|3||F Alonso||Renault||+17.4 secs|
|4||M Webber||Williams||+22.2 secs|
|5||J Button||BAR||+29.5 secs|
|6||D Coulthard||Red Bull||+31.6 secs|
|7||M Schumacher||Ferrari||+33.8 secs|
|8||R Schumacher||Toyota||+49.5 secs|
|9||C Klien||Red Bull||+51.9 secs|
|10||F Massa||Sauber||+57.5 secs|
|11||R Barrichello||Ferrari||+60.6 secs|
|12||J Villeneuve||Sauber||+83.2 secs|
|13||T Monteiro||Jordan||+1 Lap|
|14||R Doornbos||Minardi||+2 Laps|
|15||K Karthikeyan||Jordan||+2 Laps|
|16||C Albers||Minardi||+4 Laps|
|DNF||A Pizzonia||Williams||+44 Laps|
|DNF||J Trulli||Toyota||+44 Laps|
|DNF||JP Montoya||McLaren||+53 Laps|
|DSQ||T Sato||BAR||+1 Lap|