Vettel Leads Red Bull 1-2 at Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel won his 3rd race of the season on Sunday, leading another 1-2 finish for Red Bull in the Japanese Grand Prix. The German driver had clinched pole position only 5 hours prior to the race and managed to maintain that place after the start, after which he pretty much controlled the entire 53-lap action on the Suzuka circuit.

The race was previewed by Lucas di Grassi’s crash in the formation lap, while the start witnessed two more incidents involving Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg, and Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi respectively. All 4 drivers suffered great damages to their cars and had to call it a day, enforcing the first and only safety car of the afternoon.

Robert Kubica started well and managed to keep his 3rd place until the SC was deployed, but his Renault car lost one of its rear wheels shortly before the race resumed and the Polish driver had to park his car on the sidelines.

Vettel built enough of a lead up front to keep his 1st place after the pit stops, while his teammate Mark Webber secured 2nd place ahead of Fernando Alonso. These three raced one behind the other the entire race, and eventually finished in the same positions on the overall podium.

Unfortunately for McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, his bad luck did not run out, despite his impressive performance in qualifying. After scoring the 3rd fastest time in the timed session, he had to drop 5 positions on the grid due to a gearbox change. He managed to recuperate well enough to reach the first corner of the race in 6th place (which turned into 5th place after Kubica’s DNF) and afterwards took advantage of his teammate Jenson Button’s late pit stop to climb up to 4th.

However, as soon as he got into 4th place and started to close the gap on Alonso, the Brit experienced a problem with his new gearbox which eventually forced him to drop around 2 seconds per lap. He was soon overtook by Button but managed to finish the race in 5th place.

Michael Schumacher secured 6th place after a thrilling battle with his teammate Nico Rosberg, the latter crashing out some 6 laps to the end after losing control on his car in straight line.

Crowd’s favorite Kamui Kobayashi gave the fans a heck of a show on Sunday, as he was probably the driver to overtake the most during the one and a half hour race. Having pitted late in the race, the BMW Sauber driver overtook no less than 3 drivers in a matter of laps – Jaime Alguersuari, Rubens Barrichello and teammate Nick Heidfeld – and took advantage of Rosberg’s and Adrian Sutil’s retirements to finish 7th overall.

Heidfeld, Barrichello and STR’s Sebastien Buemi completed the Top 10.

In the overall classification, Mark Webber stretched his lead to 14 points from Fernando Alonso, while Vettel rests level on points (but with fewer race wins) with the Spaniard in 3rd place.
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