Vettel Pulls To Within Four Points Of Alonso
SUZUKA, Japan — Sebastian Vettel moved a step closer to his third consecutive Formula One World Driving Championship with a victory in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuitland.
Vettel dominated the event en route to his second consecutive triumph and his third of the season. And that victory for the Red Bull team coupled with point leader Fernando Alonso crashing in the first turn of the race, helped Vettel draw within four points of the championship leader.
Vettel’s victory came after he won the pole during qualifying on Saturday.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend. Yesterday’s qualifying was perfect and today again, the balance of the car was amazing,” Vettel explained. “We didn’t change too much at the stops; it just seemed to work fantastically well. I’m very happy, the guys have been pushing very hard and even though we didn’t have major upgrades here, it still seemed to come together and the balance was there – and that’s what made the difference today.
“It’s a shame for Alonso, it’s not something you hope for and it could happen to us at the next race. We’ve seen this year there are a lot of up and downs and things change quickly — we have to keep our heads down and take it step by step.”
As Vettel sped into a lead he never relinquished, Alonso had a brush with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and spun with a punctured left-rear tire in the first corner. At the same time, Raikkonen’s team mate Romain Grosjean hit Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Williams’ Bruno Senna collided with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
The safety car was deployed for just two laps, and thereafter Vettel picked up where he left off to score a win that brought his points tally to 190 compared to Alonso’s 194. He was simply untouchable.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa turned in his best performance of the season and finished second to score his first podium since Korea in 2010.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Massa said. “To come here in Japan, starting 10th, which I was very happy with the car since the practice and then qualifying was not so good. I’m sure I was able to start in the top five so I was 10th. I was able to do a very good start, very clever on the first corner with the accident and everything that happened, and then the pace was very good from the car.”
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi turned in a career-best third-place finish in his home country.
“Before the race I was joking: a couple of times I have a chance to get podium but I have bad luck and I couldn’t get it,” Kobayashi said. “But maybe I get this race in podium, maybe it’s something in destiny, y’know? So I’m very happy for the fans. There’s so many people supporting us. When we look there is so much crowd around the circuit and that’s amazing. Really, thanks to all the fans. I think we need to keep going for the future.”
McLaren teammates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five.
In the constructor stakes, Red Bull continue to lead on 324 points to McLaren’s 283, Ferrari’s 263 and Lotus’s 239.