Daily Archives: October 10, 2010

Vettel dominates Suzuka in Red Bull 1-2

Sebastian Vettel took victory in the Japanese Grand Prix today, ahead of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. This leaves Vettel joint 2nd in the championship, while Webber extends his lead at the front. This is what happened:

The first corner saw instant carnage, as two separate incidents resulted in the deployment of the safety car. Vitaly Petrov turned left into Nico Hulkenberg, ruining the Renault and taking out the Williams, while Felipe Massa ran wide at Turn 1, and speared into Vitantonio Liuzzi, and threw debris all over the track.

On the third lap, while the safety car was still out, Robert Kubica, who had jumped Mark Webber at the start, pulled over to retire with a missing back right wheel, which came off during the lap. This was to prove crucial to the race, as now Webber’s slow start was cancelled out, while Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton moved up the grid.

The safety car peeled away at the start of Lap 7, and the race got properly underway. The Mercedes cars gave us the great racing action, Nico Rosberg trying a move on Sebastien Buemi on 130R but ran wide, while Michael Schumacher got past Rubens Barrichello at the final chicane to take 6th.

Up front, Vettel set fastest lap after fastest lap, while Mark Webber kept him honest in 2nd. The two Red Bulls soon showed their hands, as their lap times were a half a second faster than Fernando Alonso in 3rd. Further back, Kamui Kobayashi impressed the crowd with a brave dive down the inside of Jaime Alguersuari for 10th place. He later made the same move on Adrian Sutil on Lap 19.

Sutil soon pitted, and triggered a charge for the pit lane. Barrichello and Alguersuari soon followed, and were among the fastest on track, prompting Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher to make the change. Lewis emerged behind Kobayashi, but quickly made a move on the main straight to get himself clear track ahead.

Once the Red Bulls and Alonso pitted, Button was left in the lead, while Hamilton set a chain of fastest laps on a new set of tyres, and got closer and closer to Fernando Alonso. In 2nd and 3rd, Mark Webber was getting very close to Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to be struggling with his tyres.

Button finally pitted on Lap 39, and handed the lead back to Vettel. Kobayashi stopped also, and dropped to 11th place. Hamilton, however, was in trouble, telling his team that his gearbox had lost 3rd gear, which is surprising considering the gearbox change he had yesterday.

He began to lose up to 2 seconds per lap to team-mate Button, and Jenson soon sailed past on Lap 44. This left the McLarens 4th and 5th.

Kamui Kobayashi was down to 12th, but decided to make another banzai move on Jaime Alguersuari around the outside. However, Jaime made a silly mistake, by banging wheels with Kobayashi when he had already gotten past. The Toro Rosso sustained damage to his front wing and was forced to pit. The Sauber had damage to its sidepod and turning vane, but was able to continue.

Adrian Sutil’s engine exploded on Lap 46, spewing oil over the back wheels, and forced the Force India into a perilous spin at 130R, but was well held by Sutil, though he was still forced to retire.

Button tried to put pressure on Alonso’s 3rd place, but was just too far back to be a concern to the Ferrari team. With 5 laps to go, a huge crash occured at Turn 5, when Nico Rosberg’s back left wheel flew straight off the car, spearing the car into the barriers, although the safety car was not deployed.

In the last few laps, a fantastic battle began between team-mates Nick Heidfeld and Kamui Kobayashi was the focus of attention. As expected, a dive down the inside of the hairpin was the way to get into 7th place.

After all of this, Sebastian Vettel crossed the line first, to take a dominant win, and push himself back into the title fight. Mark Webber was 1 second behind, and Fernando Alonso 3rd. Button and Hamilton were 4th and 5th, while Schumacher Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Barrichello and Buemi took the rest of the points. Heikki Kovalainen was 12th, which almost definitely secures Lotus’ 10th place in the constructors championship.

A dominant 1-2 was the minimum expected result by Red Bull, and helped both drivers in their championship assault at the same time. Ferrari didn’t expect to match Red Bull, so 3rd position was well-appreciated by Alonso. McLaren, meanwhile, were slightly disappointed by Button’s failed strategy.

Despite all of this, Webber didn’t leave Vettel all the glory. On the very last lap, the Australian took the fastest lap, to steal the jewel in Sebastian’s crown.

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.

Vettel takes pole position for Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. He will be joined on the front row by Mark Webber, and followed by Robert Kubica, after Lewis Hamilton’s 5-place penalty. Here is the full report:

Q1

As the session began, it was quickly apparent that the track hadn’t completely dried out, as the contours had resulted in patches of wet tarmac appearing in places, despite the sunshine. With this in mind, Jenson Button went out on intermediates, while everyone else stayed on slicks.

Button pitted without setting a lap, so it was a clear indication of the conditions. Having said that, the times were well away from those seen in Friday Practice. The fastest lap in the first 5 minutes was a 1.32.858 by Rubens Barrichello.

It took another few minutes before the Red Bulls and McLarens went out on track,  but they were cautious for their first few laps. Eventually, Sebastian Vettel went one tenth quicker than the two Williams cars.

Nico Rosberg did well to get into 3rd place, while Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld struggled down in 13th and 14th.

Robert Kubica was the final driver to leave the pits, but could only go 13th. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi had a very poor set of laps, and couldn’t get himself out of the drop zone. He was 18th, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Sebastien Buemi

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Heikki Kovalainen

21) Lucas di Grassi

22) Timo Glock

23) Bruno Senna

24) Sakon Yamamoto

Q2

As Q2 began, the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa went fastest within minutes, before Mark Webber went another tenth faster with a 1.31.651. Jenson Button went 2nd, Sebastian Vettel 4th, and Lewis Hamilton 5th.

It soon emerged that the “green” track, which means it isn’t rubbered in, wasn’t working well with the soft tyres, prompting many teams to change their tyre strategies, such as Nico Hulkenberg.

The next two cars to make a move were the Mercedes drivers of Nico Rosberg and Schumacher, going 7th and 10th. Felipe Massa was stuck in 11th, but several backmarkers ruined his first attempt. Kamui Kobayashi was very close to knocking out Michael Schumacher, but braked too late for the final corner and messed up his lap, leaving him 14th.

Massa had a very disappointing final lap, while Nick Heidfeld momentarily took 10th from Schumacher, until Michael’s final lap took back the position.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld

12) Felipe Massa

13) Vitaly Petrov

14) Kamui Kobayashi

15) Adrian Sutil

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

With the start of Q3, Lewis Hamilton was the first out, surely to try and make up for his 5-place grid penalty. Contrary to belief that there would be a split between the hard and soft tyres, most drivers were going out on the soft tyres, with the notable exception of Jenson Button.

Lewis got the ball rolling with a 1.31.3, which Fernando Alonso was unable to beat. Mark Webber went 2 tenths faster than Alonso, before Vettel smashed that time by another 0.4 seconds.

With 3 minutes to go, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg went out on track, with Button on the harder tyre. His first attempt was poor, with only 4th. Hamilton jumped to 2nd, before Mark Webber took the position back. Nobody could get near Sebastian Vettel, who still decided to improve upon his time by 0.007 seconds. Hamilton’s penalty now leaves Robert Kubica 3rd, Fernando Alonso 4th, Button 5th, followed by Rosberg, Barrichello, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Schumacher.

This was Sebastian’s 8th pole position of the year, and it is critical to win this race later if he is to keep up his title hopes.

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