F1 2013

Clever strategy brings Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Japan Grand Prix victory

After the starting lights went off, it seemed that French Lotus driver Romain Grosjean or Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber might end victorious from a tactical and strategy guided race in Japan on Sunday, but in the end it was Webber’s team mate namely German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel who took his ninth success of the season - and fifth in a row - after a clever timed two-stop strategy.

It must be mentioned here, that the chances of Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber to score a maiden victory were damped at the start when both he and his German team mate Sebastian Vettel were relatively slow of the line, while the Lotus of Frenchman Romain Grosjean propelled from fourth on the grid to snatch the lead going into the first corner. For a while however, the Australian’s three-stop strategy looked quite promising as he swapped to Pirelli’s medium tires for his final stint with 11 laps to go. Unfortunately it took him until the 52nd lap to remove Romain Grosjean from second place, by which time 3 times Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel was too far away to be overtaken.

This result was however not enough for the German Red Bull driver to clinch the drivers’ Formula 1 World championship for a fourth time in a row as Fernando Alonso’s fourth place for the Scuderia Ferrari leaves him 90 points behind the German, with 100 points still up for grabs in the final four races.

Spanish Scuderi Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso played second fiddle for a long time to Brazilian Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa, but then moved ahead of the Brazilian and in the closing stages fought and won a fierce battle with Sauber’s top-form driver Nico Hulkenberg. The latter was also overtaken close to the finish by experienced Kimi Raikkonen, who brought his Lotus home fifth, after taking the German down in an exciting overtaking maneuver.

As Esteban Gutierrez drove the best race of his till date short F1 career to score his first points with a hard-earned seventh place, it was an excellent birthday present for Peter Sauber who was back home in Switzerland celebrating his 70th birthday.

Esteban Gutierrez earned his result by holding off the Mercedes of German driver Nico Rosberg to the flag, as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button passed Brazilian Scuderia Felipe Massa on the penultimate lap to score two points precious for the Woking based team. On the other hand, the Brazilian Scuderia Ferrari driver had lost time with a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

It was a tough day for Mercedes, who lost British driver Lewis Hamilton as a contender in the first corner. As French Lotus driver Romain Grosjean came down the inside British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was sandwiched between the two Red Bulls as they struggled for momentum. As German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel had to move left to avoid the Lotus, he slit the Mercedes’ right-rear tire open with his left front-wing endplate. The devastated British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton limped back to his pits with a puncture, tried to resume the race, but soon retired as the resulting aerodynamic damage was delaying him more than a second a lap.

Paul di Resta drove an energetic race for Force India but just lost out on points to British Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button and Brazilian Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa in the closing stages and thus finished 11th, while Jean-Eric Vergne fought for 12th for Toro Rosso, just ahead of his team mate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian started on the hard tires and did the longest first stint, but his chances of points were completely ruined when he got a drive-through penalty for completing a pass on Force India’s Adrian Sutil by going totally off track exiting 130R on the 28th lap and being considered by the stewards to have gained an unfair advantage.

Adrian Sutil made a brilliant start from last spot on the starting grid and was always in the lower midfield fight, but had to settle for 14th, a long way behind Ricciardo and a mere tenth of a second ahead of Sergio Perez, who like Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team mate Jenson Button did a three-stop race.

Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas were 16th and 17th for Williams, the Finn dropping from 13th in the final laps after a driving mistake in the peak of the battle.

Caterham and Marussia lost Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi at the very first corner when the Dutchman and the Frenchman collided at the start, without causing an early safety car period.
After serving a drive-through penalty in the first five laps for driving through a red light during qualifying, Charles Pic fought through to lead Marussia’s Max Chilton home.

German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's fourth win in Japan brings him to 297 points in the standings to Fernando Alonso’s 207, which means he can clinch the title at the next round in India by finishing fifth or higher, regardless of what the Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver will achieve. Kimi Raikkonen expanded his gap from Lewis Hamilton in third place with 177 to 161, while Mark Webber is moving back into contention with them on 148 points.

The result gave Red Bull another 43 points, bringing their total points to 445 in the 2013 Formula 1 constructors' standings. The result of the Scuderia Ferrari pulled them further ahead of Mercedes, the gap being a mere 10 points with 297 to 287, while Lotus are back in the fight for second place with 264. The former title contenders Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have only 83 to Force India’s 62 points.

Suzuka - Abu Dhabi - Cairo

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