Sebastian super in Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has won the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix from Pole Position, and in doing so has closed the gap to Fernando Alonso, who spun out of the race, to just 4 points. 

There was utter havoc off the line. Romain Grosjean was up to no good, as usual, and had yet another first lap crash when he smashed into the rear of Mark Webber and sent the Australian into a spin. Championship leader Fernando Alonso was clipped by Kimi Raikkonen who tried to overtake him into turn 1 and the Spaniard got a wheel on the grass. There was nothing he could do as his car spun off the track and got beached in the gravel.

Bruno Senna tried to take advantage of the chaos to overtake Nico Rosberg but instead just smashed straight into the side of him, sending the German into a spin and out of the race, just several metres beside Fernando Alonso. Senna, Minus a front wing, made his way back to the pits with Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber as the Safety Car came out while they cleared away the first lap debris.

The race restarted after three laps and Vettel led home-boy Kamui Kobayashi who was in second. Sergio Perez, who will be at McLaren next year, tried to overtake Kimi Raikkonen into turn 1 but the ‘Iceman’ was having none of it and pushed him wide off the track. Sergio Perez then tried to take Lewis Hamilton on the upside into the hairpin and completely caught the Brit sleeping. Even though Perez locked up, he proved his worth and overtook Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean was given a 1o-second stop/go penalty for smashing into Webber. Webber was feeling the effects of the damage on his car while running down in 19th after a pit stop. Vettel had a massive lead over Kobayashi while Felipe Massa piled on the pressure to Button, culminating in Massa coming out ahead of Button after the first round of pit stops.

Perez tried to overtake Hamilton the same way he had overtaken him just 10 laps earlier, before the pit stops, but he got it wrong and spun onto the gravel and out of the race. Mid-way through the race, the stewards struck up an investigation into Senna’s crash with Rosberg. They deemed Senna to be at fault and gave him a drive through penalty.

On Lap 32, Hamilton came out of the pits after a 2.6 second pit stop, right into Kimi Raikkonen’s clutches. What followed was some fantastic driving that Romain Grosjean would do wise to learn from. Into turn 1, Raikkonen had the outside line but was ahead of Hamilton. Hamilton kept his foot down and Kimi Raikkonen’s sharp reactions ensured that the two driver’s didn’t end up in the gravel. It was brave stuff! Narain Karthikeyan suffered his 2nd retirement in a row, pulling into his garage to retire the car, as did Chales Pic just a few laps later.

Vettel was untouchable up the front while Massa behind him also seemed out of reach. Kamui Kobayashi in 3rd was the only driver on the podium who could have been knocked off it. Jenson Button began to really catch him, despite McLaren’s obvious bad pace at Japan, but just on the final few laps, Kobayashi found a new pace and managed to keep Button at bay, crossing the line just 0.5 ahead.

It is Felipe Massa’s first podium since Korea 2010 and Kamui Kobayashi’s first podium in his F1 career! It is also the first time since 1990 that a Japanese driver is on podium at home.

Final Standings:

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Felipe Massa
3. Kamui Kobayashi
4. Jenson Button
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. Kimi Raikkonen
7. Nico Hulkenberg
8. Pastor Maldonado
9. Mark Webber
10. Daniel Ricciardo
11. Michael Schumacher
12. Paul di Resta
13. Jean-Eric Vergne
14. Bruno Senna
15. Heikki Kovalainen
16. Timo Glock
17. Vitaly Petrov
18. Pedro de la Rosa
19. Romain Grosjean

Retired:
Narain Karthikeyan
Charles Pic
Sergio Perez
Fernando Alonso
Nico Rosberg

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