Close, But No Championship Cigar For Seb As He Wins In Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel will have to wait until the Indian Grand Prix, at least, to take a fourth consecutive World Championship, with Fernando Alonso finishing fourth in Suzuka today, to keep his Championship hopes mathematically alive.

Vettel’s team-mate, Mark Webber, had taken pole position, his first since Korea 2012, with Vettel joining him on the front row, but both men bogged down at the start. Hamilton dived through the gaps between the two RB9s, but got caught on Vettel’s front wing and went wide at the first corner with a left rear puncture. Romain Grosjean, from fourth, jumped the top three following an extraordinary start and took the lead of the Grand Prix. At the back of the grid, Jules Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde made contact and the duo spun into the gravel at turn 1 and climbed from their respective cockpits.

Hamilton circulated to the pitlane and fitted a new set of boots while Alonso scrapped with Massa, and Raikkonen passed Button. Massa, now his own man, was in no rush to be the team-player. Further up the grid, Hamilton became the third man to drop from the race due to damage suffered in his T1 contact.

Up at the very front, Webber boxed from second which left Vettel inheriting second and roaring after Grosjean who then also pitted and rejoined ahead of Mark. Rosberg earned himself a drive-through penalty following a very close call in the pits when his team released him into the path of Sergio Perez.

Lap twenty and Alonso cruised past Massa who then went wide in the hairpin and Esteban Gutierrez slid up the inside of the Brazilian who out-dragged the Sauber and retook the position. Raikkonen was next man behind the Sauber and he swept past the Mexican in a ballsy move at 130R. It was all kicking off and Massa tried taking the inside line of Alonso into the chicane as the Spaniard passed Daniel Ricciardo, but had to back out of the move and left Hulkenberg creeping slowly towards the gearbox of the F138.

Back at the front, Webber had the bit between his teeth and was catching Grosjean at a rapid rate of knots. But as soon as he had caught the Lotus, he pulled right on the pit straight and came into the pits. It was clear that Webber was running a three-stop strategy as opposed to the double stopping duo of RoGro and Vettel.

Webber began to slowly open the gap to Grosjean whilst catching Vettel at a pace of a second a lap. Vettel pitted and fitted a set of hard tyres for his last stint, coming out behind Grosjean but soon caught and passed the Frenchman. Webber came into the pits and fitted a new pair of the medium tyres with ten laps remaining. He came out behind both Seb and Grosjean and clearly had the speed to catch Vettel, but could he pass him for the win?

Turns out he wouldn’t get close. Grosjean was much slower than Webber but proved to be quite the moving roadblock and kept the Bull contained behind him. With two laps to go Webber finally shot past the Lotus into turn 1 amid a myriad of lapped drivers. Webber was more than a second clear of the Lotus after the first sector but it was too late for the Aussie as Vettel crossed the line to take his ninth win this season.

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Mark Webber
  3. Romain Grosjean
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Kimi Raikkonen
  6. Nico Hulkenberg
  7. Esteban Gutierrez
  8. Nico Rosberg
  9. Jenson Button
  10. Felipe Massa
  11. Paul di Resta
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne
  13. Daniel Ricciardo
  14. Adrian Sutil
  15. Sergio Perez
  16. Pastor Maldonado
  17. Valtteri Bottas
  18. Charles Pic
  19. Max Chilton
  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Giedo van der Garde
  • Jules Bianchi
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