Japanese GP - Sunday - Race Notes
Vettel dominates in Japan
Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese GP at Suzuka in dominating fashion leading the race from flag to flag in his Red Bull-Renault. Jarno Trulli finished in second place, some 4.8 seconds behind at Toyota's home race, followed by Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Mercedes in third, 6.4 seconds behind the leader.
The German driver kept his title hopes alive, closing his gap on Jenson Button to 16 points with two races remaining, Barrichello closing by one point, to 14 points behind.
Kimi Raikkonen (7.9s) in the Ferrari was fourth, followed by Nico Rosberg (8.7s) in the Williams-Toyota in fifth, Nick Heidfeld (9.5s) in the Sauber BMW in sixth, Rubens Barrichello (10.6s) in the Brawn-Mercedes in seventh place, followed by his team mate, world championship leader Jenson Button (11.4s) in the final points paying position.
Overnight the stewards handed out a number of penalties that scrambled the grid. Going to the grid the order was Vettel, Trulli, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Rosberg, Sutil, Kubica and Button in tenth. Timo Glock having been declared unfit would not start. Mark Webber starting from the pitlane.
At the start Vettel got into the lead, with Hamilton passing Trulli for second into the first corner.
On the first lap Webber stops for fuel and going from the softer to the harder tyre.
On lap 3 Webber goes to the pits again, the team taping up the cockpit surround padding.
Vettel running away from the rest of the field pulled out a 2.1 second lead by lap 3.
On lap 4 Button passes Kubica into the chicane to take tenth place. Buemi passes Grosjean for 17th. Webber pits for a third time.
At lap 10 Vettel slowly extending his lead to 4.1 seconds over Hamilton, followed by Trulli (6.0s), Heidfeld (11.2s), Raikkonen (15.2s), Barrichello (17.1s), Rosberg (20.3s), Kovalainen (26.1s), Sutil (26.6s) and Button (27.8s) in tenth place.
On lap 12 Buemi pits, retiring to the garage with a clutch problem.
On lap 13 Sutil makes a run on Kovalainen into the chicane, go side-by-side but touch, sending Sutil into a spin, but he rejoins. Button passes both of the drivers for eighth place, Kovalainen ninth, Sutil loses out the most falling back to 12th place.
On lap 15 Hamilton is the first driver to pit from second place, changing to the harder tyre and rejoining in seventh place. The next lap Sutil pits from 12th, going to the hard tyre.
On lap 17 Trulli pits from second place, rejoining behind Hamilton in seventh place. The next lap Button pits from eighth place staying on the hard tyre, Fisichella from 11th.
On lap 18 Vettel pits from the lead, staying on the hard tyre, with a slow stop waiting for a safe exit from his pit. Heidfeld Raikkonen and Barrichello also pit on the same lap. Vettel keeps the lead with Rosberg up to second place, but yet to pit.
At lap 20 Vettel leads Rosberg by 1.1 seconds, followed by Hamilton (3.8s), Trulli (5.6s), Heidfeld (10.1s), Kovalainen (11.4s), Kubica (13.8s), Raikkonen (17.7s), Barrichello (22.0s) and Alguersuari (22.9s) in tenth place.
On lap 23 Rosberg pits from second place for his first stop, staying on hard tyres. Alguersuari pits as well.
On lap 25 Kovalainen pits from sixth place. Liuzzi pits on the next lap. Kubica pits from fifth place on lap 27, staying on the hard tyre and rejoining in 11th. Nakajima pits on the next lap, on a one-stop strategy.
On lap 29 Grosjean runs wide, but continues - Sutil getting by for 13th place. Grosjean pits on the next lap.
At lap 30 Vettel leads Hamilton by 6.1 seconds, followed by Trulli (9.0s), Heidfeld (16.7s), Raikkonen (20.4s), Barrichello (33.2s), Rosberg (36.1s), Button (38.6s), Alonso (39.0s) and Kubica (40.7s) in tenth place.
On lap 31 Alonso makes his only stop, changing to soft tyres.
On lap 32 Liuzzi passes Nakajima for 15th place into the first turn. Liuzzi making contact with his left front wing endplate as he pulled out to pass.
On lap 35 Webber pits for fuel and switches to softs, Raikkonen pits the same lap, staying on the soft tyres, rejoining in eighth place. Heidfeld pits from fourth on the next lap, having problems on the right rear tyre change for a slow stop, falling to eighth.
On lap 38 Hamilton makes his second pitstop from second place switching back to the softer tyre. He rejoins in third place. Kubica is battling with his team mate Heidfeld for eighth place.
On lap 39 Trulli pits from second place, a quick stop keeping the Toyota driver ahead of Hamilton - staying in second place. Kovalainen, Fisichella and Sutil also pit. Kovalainen and Fisichella battle out of the pitlane exit, making contact, Kovalainen getting ahead.
On lap 40 race leader Vettel pits, staying in the lead, as well as Button from sixth. Kubica pits from seventh place the next lap. Barrichello pits from fourth on lap 43 switching to soft tyres, rejoining in
At lap 43 Vettel leads Trulli by 11.7 seconds, followed by Hamilton (15.3s), Rosberg (24.2s), Raikkonen (29.5s), Heidfeld (35.4s), Barrichello (43.5s), Button (45.0s), Alguersuari (52.6s) and Kubica (54.0s) in tenth place.
Alguersuari and Liuzzi pit on lap 44.
On lap 45 Alguersuari crashes at the fast 130R corner spinning into the inside of the corner and hitting the tyre barrier. He gets out of the car unhurt.
The safety car is deployed, while Rosberg makes his final stop from fourth place, rejoining in fifth place.
McLaren tells Hamilton on his radio that he has a problem with his KERS system. Under the safety car is Vettel, Trulli, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Button, Kubica and Alonso in tenth.
At the end of lap 49 the safety car comes in and the race resumes. The order remains the same. Button battling with his team mate Barrichello for seventh place.
The order remains the same to the finish. Sebastian Vettel takes his fourth career victory at Suzuka.