Vettel beats Webber and Grosjean to win in Japan

Vettel beats Webber and Grosjean to win in Japan

Formula 1

Vettel beats Webber and Grosjean to win in Japan

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Sebastian Vettel clinched his fifth consecutive Formula 1 victory as differing strategies produced a thrilling climax to a three-way fight for Japanese Grand Prix honors at Suzuka.

Polesitter Mark Webber passed Romain Grosjean late on to secure a Red Bull 1-2, but fell seven seconds short of denying Vettel and securing what would have been a first victory of his farewell F1 campaign.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, finished fourth, ensuring that Vettel must wait until India at least to be crowned a four-time champion.

It was Grosjean’s Lotus that captured the lead at the start, jumping from fourth into the lead as both Red Bulls got poor starts.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton also got the jump on the Red Bulls, but as he squeezed in between the two RB9s he and Vettel brushed, puncturing Hamilton’s rear right and causing floor damage which would ultimately lead to his retirement after just nine laps. 

In the background, Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collided at Turn 1, with the incident set to be reviewed after the race.

For the first half of the race Grosjean was able to maintain his advantage over Webber and Vettel, with the trio easing away from a chasing pack led by Nico Rosberg and the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. The group lost massive time through the first round of stops when Daniel Ricciardo, who started on the hard compound and ran a deep first stint, managed to jump into fourth and hold a string of quicker cars at bay for several laps.

It was Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg who jumped the Ferraris through the first round of stops who eventually managed to break Ricciardo’s resistance, but by then the top three were 27 seconds down the road and out of touch. That allowed Vettel, Grosjean and Webber to adopt wildly different strategies, with the latter opting for a three-stop plan in contrast to the two-stops of Vettel and Grosjean.

Webber therefore held track position heading into the final 10 laps, while Vettel was able to go far deeper than Grosjean in his middle stint, and therefore had much fresher tires on which to close a two-second deficit to the Lotus man.

The crucial pass came on lap 41 when Vettel attacked at Casio and then dived down Grosjean’s inside at Turn 1 for second. With Webber pitting one lap later, Vettel duly hit the front and was able to cruise home to extend his winning streak.

That he did so owed much to Grosjean, however, whose spirited defense kept Webber now on the option tire for a final 10-lap charge at bay until the final laps, when Webber picked him off at Turn 1 to secure second.

Behind, Alonso executed a great pass around the outside of Hulkenberg heading into Turn 1 to clinch fourth and keep the title race technically open.

Kimi Raikkonen also picked off Hulkenberg’s Sauber to seal fifth ahead of the German.

Esteban Gutierrez held on to deny Rosberg hit by a drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit release in a fight for seventh, while Jenson Button and Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10.

Massa also had to fight back from a drive-through for speeding in the pitlane, although his cause was also aided when Sergio Perez and Rosberg collided while fighting for 10th, sending the former to the pits with damage.

Paul di Resta beat Jean-Eric Vergne to 11th, while a third drive-through this time for Ricciardo after he went off-track passing di Resta at 130R meant the Australian was restricted to 13th ahead of Adrian Sutil, Perez and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS                                                                                           The Japanese Grand Prix                                         Suzuka, Japan;                                                  53 laps; 307.471km;                                             Weather: Dry.                                                                                                                   Classified:                                                                                                                     Pos  Driver             Team                         Time   1.  Sebatian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault        1h37.410s            2.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault            +7.1s            3.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault               +9.9s            4.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari                    +45.6s            5.  Kimi Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +47.3s            6.  Nico Hulkenberg    Sauber-Ferrari             +51.6s            7.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari           +1m11.6s            8.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes                 +1m12.0s            9.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes         +1m20.8s           10.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari                  +1m29.2s           11.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes     +1m38.5s           12.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap           13.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap           14.  Adrian Sutil       Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap           15.  Sergio Perez       McLaren-Mercedes           +1 lap           16.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Renault           +1 lap           17.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Renault           +1 lap           18.  Charlies Pic       Caterham-Renault           +1 lap           19.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap                                                                           Fastest lap: Mark Webber, 1m34.587s                                                                            Not classified/retirements:                                                                                             Driver               Team                         On lap      Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes                          9               Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault                  0               Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth                 0                                                                               World Championship standings, round 15:                                                                                 Drivers:                    Constructors:               1.  Vettel        297        1.  Red Bull-Renault          445  2.  Alonso        207        2.  Ferrari                   297  3.  Raikkonen     177        3.  Mercedes                  277  4.  Hamilton      151        4.  Lotus-Renault             264  5.  Webber        148        5.  McLaren-Mercedes           83  6.  Rosberg       126        6.  Force India-Mercedes       62  7.  Massa          90        7.  Sauber-Ferrari             55  8.  Grosjean       87        8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31  9.  Button         60        9.  Williams-Renault            1 10.  Hulkenberg     49                                          11.  Di Resta       36                                          12.  Sutil          26                                          13.  Perez          23                                          14.  Ricciardo      18                                          15.  Vergne         13                                          16.  Gutierrez       6                                          17.  Maldonado       1                                                                                                          All timing unofficial                                  

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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