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Sebastian Vettel Red “Pulls” the trigger!

As everyone expected, nobody could compete with the Red Bulls in Suzuka on Sunday afternoon as Sebastian Vettel led home his team mate Mark Webber by nine-tenths of a second in an entertaining and suspenseful race in which the five title contenders finished in the top five places. With the German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel coining his pole position into the third triumph of the 2010 Formula 1 season, and Fernando Alonso’s third place for Ferrari, 1.8s behind Webber, the German moves into joint second place with the Spanish Ferrari driver, each on 206 points, as Webber moved out to 220 to extend his lead to 14.

Jenson Button’s bold decision to qualify on the harder Bridgestone tire paid off with fourth place, after the 2009 Formula 1 driver’s world champion had a long stint before pitting than his main rivals and led from Lap 26 until his stop which took place on Lap 38. But fortune favored him as he was able to catch and pass McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton when the latter’s MP4-25 lost third gear around the 40-lap mark. Hamilton finished fifth and lies now fourth overall with 192 points, with Button fifth with 189 in the drivers’ standings.

In the constructors Formula 1 championship Red Bull moved even further ahead, with 426 points to McLaren’s 381 and Ferrari’s 334.

The race began with a big crash, combined in several of one’s taking place sequentially. Renault’s Vitaly Petrov appeared to sheer out across the path of Hulkenberg as the cars left the grid, detaching the German’s front wheel. That contact sent the Russian spinning into the barriers on the start-finish straight.

Petrov claimed he had been trying to avoid Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber, but the Suzuka stewards decided he had caused an avoidable collision. As a result, the Russian Renault driver will drop five grid positions at the next round in Korea as a result of the start-line incident that saw him and Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg retire on lap one of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Then in the first corner Ferrari’s Felipe Massa made a wild dive down the inside of William’s driver Nico Hulkenberg, before spearing across the road to crash into and take off rocket-like starting Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi on the outside of Turn One. Hulkenberg was also involved, so at a single strike four cars joined non-starter Lucas di Grassi, who had a huge shunt in 130R in his Virgin during his out lap on the way to the grid.

Then, while the safety car controlled the race for the first six laps, Robert Kubica’s brilliant start on Renault to run second, ahead of Webber, came to an abrupt standstill when he dropped out at the hairpin on the second lap when his Renault lost its right-rear wheel.

Apart from Button’s temporarily lead due to McLaren’s different tire strategy, Sebastian Vettel was in complete charge of the race, keeping challenging teammate Mark Webber under control as the Australian Red Bull driver in turn kept Alonso at bay. The two McLarens ran close behind them, and until Hamilton’s transmission problem the five title contenders were all closing up for what seemed like a dramatic finish. As Hamilton slowed, however, he let Button pass by at the Hairpin.

Michael Schumacher inherited sixth place from Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg as something at the back of the car broke, thus making him lose the left-rear wheel on the 48th lap. The two of them had been battling, nose to tail, for many laps.

Although Michael Schumacher was much faster than his teammate Nico Rosberg, he was informed over the radio, that there are no team orders, and that the fight has to be held fair and square on the track. This decision was a very costly one, as the fast emerging Michael Schumacher could have easily taken down Lewis Hamilton to take fifth place, as the latter was driving almost 2 seconds a lap slower than his German follower, after the 2008 World champion lost the 3rd gear in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes around the 40 lap mark.

One of the heroes of the race was BMW Sauber’s Japanese Samurai Kamui Kobayashi, who did his usual energetic overtaking, mainly in the Hairpin, pit-stopped late, then caught and passed team mate Nick Heidfeld to take seventh ahead of the German despite sustaining damage forcing his way past Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. Again Kamui Kobayashi proved that he was the best investment Peter Sauber did.

His team mate Nick Heidfeld finished eighth, making it a fruitful day for BMW Sauber, having just fended off Rubens Barrichello’s Williams.

Tenth seemed to be fixed for Adrian Sutil until his Force India blew its Mercedes engine on Lap 44; he half spun in 130R on his way back to the pits. This made Sebastien Buemi inherit the final point after Toro Rosso team mate Alguersuari had to make a late pit stop. The Spaniard finished 11th, ahead of Heikki Kovalainen who led Jarno Trulli home for a Lotus one-two in the newcomers.

Virgin’s Timo Glock finished third among the new teams, and 14th overall. But for a long time Sakon Yamamoto was another hero with a plucky drive where he stayed ahead of Trulli for a long period of time and Glock even longer until his pit stop on Lap 32. Bruno Senna ultimately beat him; having made an early pit stop, but Yamamoto brought his HRT home an honorable 16th behind him in front of his home crowd.


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