Japanese GP

Japan Flashback 2013 – Vettel win sets him up for title

With the race starting under somewhat of a cloud since the death of Maria de Villota on Friday, the drivers held a one minute silence. With many of the drivers including Fernando Alonso had close ties with the Spanish driver, and was much respected throughout the paddock.

At the formation lap it was revealed that Daniel Ricciardo and Pic would be starting on the hard tyre, with the rest of the field using the faster, but less durable mediums. They would be able to run later into the race before stopping. With the field very spread out and slow coming to the grid, Sebastian Vettel was sitting on the grid for a long time, with the front brakes smoking quite heavily. Behind him, Lewis Hamtilon positioned his car towards Vettel, clearly starting what he was able to do at the start.

Hamilton got a good start from 3rd, getting between the two Red Bulls, although Romain Grosjean got up the inside of them all, taking the lead. On the run down to the first corner Lewis Hamilton moved in from of Vettel, knocking the Germans front wing, instantly puncturing his right rear tyre. At the back of the field both the Caterham of Van der Garde and Jules Bianchi off at the first corner, with the Caterham going quite heavilty into the wall, both of them retired on the spot. The accident caused a yellow flag into turn one for a number of laps. Gutierrez made a good start to take 9th, along with Perez. Charles Pic elected to take his drive through as well early on, which he received after going through a red light at the end of the pit lane during qualifying. Lewis aslo pitted at the end of the lap with a puncture and substantial floor damage.

Out front Grosjean was leading from Webber, Vettel and Rosberg. Raikkonen lost out at the start dropping to 11th. There was a queue forming behind Rosberg, with Massa, Alonso, Hulkenberg and Perez all chasing him.

After his pit stop Hamilton didnt have great pace, with the team telling him that they had lost some aero in the accident, although he was already loosing a second and half on the leaders.
By lap 6, Vettel was told to save his tyres, dropping 2 seconds behind Mark Webber. Webber was advised to do the same thing with Grosjean if he wasnt able to get past the Lotus. In the other Loutus, Kimi Raikkonen got past Button for 10th, and Ricciardo past Bottas a couple of places further back.

Early than expected, Jean-Eric Vernge made the first pit stop on lap 8. With Massa ahead of Alonso, he told that he should stick to Strategy A, which looked like a coded message that he should let Alonso through. He didnt.

Struggling with accident damage, Hamilton retired on lap 9, followed into the pits were Button, Bottas and Sutil with Button taking the hard tyre. Nico Rosberg went off at the first corner, with the Ferrari’s getting closer to the back of him, before pulling out a slight gap again.

Gutierrez and Maldonado pit a lap later and Hulkenberg pitted for hards on lap 11. Mark Webber pitted a lap later on lap 12, along with Massa and Raikkonen. Meanwhile Button, who head pitted earlier, set the fastest lap, with Raikkonen emerging just ahead of him. Hulkenberg also jumped Massa in the stops.

Grosjean pitted on lap 13, Vettel stayed out. Taking on the hards, with a 2.6 second stop. With a great pit stop he came out in front of Webber. Also int he pitlane there was a clear unsafe release from Mercedes (Rosberg) on McLaren (Perez) outside Lotus, in which Rosberg would take a drive through penalty.

Lap 13, Vettel was still in the lead, having not stopped. Alonso pitted from 2nd. Having just pitted, Webber was a full second quicker than Vettel on the new tyre. Perez past Button for 11th, with Raikkonen just ahead in 10th.

Vettel pitted on lap 15, taking the hard tyre, while Grosjean set the fastest lap, retaining his lead over the Red Bulls, coming out ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who had yet to pit. Vettel instantly went four tenths quicker in one sector than Webber and Grosjean in front.

With Rosberg pitting for the drive though, that releaseed Hulkenberg to 5th, a nett 4th with Ricciardo yet to stop on the harder tyre.

On Lap 17 the order was: Grosjean, Webber, Vettel, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Massa, Alonso, Guttierez, Raikkonen and Perez.

Ricciardo on old hard tyres held Hulkenberg, Massa and Alonso up. Guttierez also keeping in touch with Alonso in the other Sauber. Alonso overtook Massa on lap 20, although Hulkenberg couldn’t over take Ricciado on the start/finish straight. With Ricciardo slowing, Raikkonen and Perez got onto the back of the train. Eventually Hulkenberg overtook into Ricciardo into 130R. Alonso overtook Ricciardo on the start straight right after. Massa ran wide at degner, and Gut tried to overtake intot he hairpin. Gut lost ground and then was overtaken by Raikkonen down the back straight into 130r. Ricciardo then pitted on lap 22.

At the front, Grosjean was still ahead of Webber and Vettel, 22 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.Je nson pitted lap 24, but had a slow right rear tyre change. Mark Webber closed the gap to Grosjean on lap 25, bringing the gap down to lap 25 by half a second a lap. Mark Webber pitted at the end of the lap, again taking the hard tyres, quick stop of 2.5 seconds.

Mark Webber set purple sectors on exiting the pits, with Vettel and Grosjean not pitting, with Vettel closing to the rear of the Lotus. Grosjean pitted on lap 29 after struggling, Vettel didnt pit. Another set of the hards, with a 2.9 seconds stop. He fell behind Webber, but in clear air. Hulkenberg also pitted, slower stop, but came out ahead of the Ferrari.

Alonso pitted, coming out behind Hulkenberg, but ahead of team mate Massa. Perez pitted also, but had a problem with the right rear, just like what happened with Button. Daniel Ricciardo got a drive though for gaining an advantage going off the track on di resta. Kimi cam in a lap later, coming out ahead of Ricciardo and Rosberg.

Vettel in the lead not making too much of an advantage over Grosjean who needed 22 seconds for a pit stop, with the gap on lap 33 at 20 seconds. Massa was also under investigation for speeding in the pitlane, then instantly given a drive through for the infringement. He took drive through, coming out in 11th, behind Gutierrez, and ahead of Perez.

Webber was closing on Vettel, but the gap between Grosjean and Vettel stayed the same at 19 seconds. Hulkenberg still 4th, ahead of Alonso by 5 seconds in 5th and Raikkonen close behind in 6th.
Lap 37, and Vettel pitted, again for hards. A stop of 2.4 seconds, coming out behind Grosjean. Vettel on rubber 8 laps newer. Gutirrez overtook Vergne on the start finish straight to take 9th. Vettel set the fastest lap to get on the back of Romain Grosjean. Vettel tried to overtake into the chicane, but with close onto the main striaght overtook into the first corner, not opening the DRS until the end of the straight.

Button pitted again from 7th, going down to 14th taking the medium tyre. Webber on the same strategy pitted on lap 43, also putting the medium tyre on. After is pit stop, Button past Sutil for 13th. The other McLaren wasnt having a good time of it though, coming in with a right rear puncture, caused by a collision with Nico Rosberg dropping behind the main pack in 17th.

The order after the pit stops was Vettel, Grosjean, Webber, Hulk, Alonso, Raikkonen, Gut, Massa, Rosberg, and Ricciardo in 10th. With newer, faster tyres, Webber was setting fastest lap, closing within 2 seconds to Grosjean on lap 45. Alonso overtook Hulkenberg who was having another great race for Sauber for 4th, with Kimi Raikkonen close behind in 6th. Rosberg got ahead of Massa for 8th.

Webber tried again down the start finish staight on lap 47, but unable to pass. With the pair scrapping for second, Vettel increased the lead to 7 seconds. Rosberg despite having many dramas was only 1 second behind Gutierrez.

mark tried again on lap 50 down the straight, but were appraoching the traffic of Bottas, Ricciardo, Vergne, Maldonado and Perez. Kimi Raikkonen was also closing in on Hulkenberg for 5th, but not able to close using the DRS. With Grosjean blocked, he get close and Webber overtook into turn 1 using the DRS. Raikkonen also got past Hulkenberg for 5th into the last chicane.
So, Vettel won the Japanese GP, his 5th straight win, from Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean. Fernando Alonso finished 4th, from Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg. Team mate Gutierrez 7th from Rosberg who pulled off the road at the end of the pitlane. Button and Massa rounded out the top 10.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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