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Japanese GP 2013

OCTOBER 13, 2013

Race Notes - Vettel wins Japanese GP

Sebastian Vettel, Japanese GP 2013
© Active Pictures

Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka in his Red Bull-Renault over his team mate Mark Webber by 7.1 seconds. Romain Grosjean, after jumping into the lead at the start and leading the first half of the race, finished in third place in his Lotus-Renault, 9.9 seconds behind the winner.

The win is Vettel's fifth in a row, and ninth win of the season. Vettel has now won the Japanese GP four times in the last five seasons. Vettel now has 35 career wins, and extends his championship lead to 90 points over the field, and is now on the verge of having a mathematical lock on his fourth consecutive World Championship.

Fernando Alonso (45.6s) finished in fourth place in his Ferrari after battling Nico Hulkenberg for a second consecutive race - coming out ahead this time. Kimi Raikkonen (47.3) in the Lotus finished in fifth place, followed by Hulkenberg (51.6s) in the Sauber-Ferrari in sixth place, his team mate Estaban Gutierrez (71.6s) finished seventh, scoring his first career points finish. Nico Rosberg (72.0s) in the Mercedes GP was eighth, Jenson Button (80.8s) in the McLaren-Mercedes was ninth and Felipe Massa (89.2s) in the Ferrari finished in the final points paying position in tenth.

Before the start most teams expecting a two-stop strategy this afternoon.

Webber took the pole on saturday, while his team mate Vettel suffered a KERS problem during the session.

Vettel can clinch the championship if he wins the race and Alonso finishes ninth or lower. Alonso starts from eighth.

Adrian Sutil starts last after a gearbox change in the morning.

Only two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Pic, start on the orange hard compound tyre, the rest of the field start on the white sidewalled medium tyre, which are around a second a lap quicker.

At the start Grosjean gets a quick start and passes the two Red Bull's down the inside into the first corner to take the lead from Webber, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Gutierrez and Button. Further back Guido van der Garde and Jules Bianchi are out at the first corner. Van der Garde into the tyre barrier.

Lewis Hamilton is going slowly. It appears Hamilton split the two Red Bull's into the first corner and Vettel brushed Hamilton's rear tyre with his front wing puncturing the tyre.

Hamilton pits for a new tyre - switching to the hard compound. Vettel radios the team to look for damage on his front wing - the team saying that all appears okay.

On lap 3 Grosjean running in the lead is inching away from the Red Bull pair.

On lap 5 Webber tells the team that his car is not handling well. Red Bull tells Vettel to give a two second gap to save his tyres. Alonso is closing on his team mate Massa in fifth.

On lap 6 Grosjean sets fast lap at 1m38.5s.

On lap 7 Raikkonen passes Button in the first corner to take tenth place.

On lap 8 Jean-Eric Vergne is the first to pit for hard tyres. The stewards will investigate the first corner incident after the race.

On lap 9 Hamilton pits again and the team retires the car for damage to the car's floor. Button, Valtteri Bottas and Sutil all pit and switch to hard tyres.

On lap 10 Gutierrez and Pastor Maldonado both pit for hard tyres.

At lap 10 Grosjean leads Webber by 2.5 seconds, followed by Vettel (4.1s), Rosberg (11.4s), Massa (13.1s), Alonso (14.1s), Perez (16.3s), Hulkenberg (17.1s), Raikkonen (18.7s) and Ricciardo (25.0s) in tenth place.

On lap 11 Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta pit for hard tyres.

On lap 12 Webber pits from second place. Massa and Raikkonen pit as well, all switching to hard tyres.

On lap 13 the leader Grosjean pits switching to hard tyres and rejoins ahead of Webber. Vettel now leads. Rosberg and Perez pits. Rosberg is released from the pits as Perez is heading for his pit.

On lap 14 Alonso pits. Webber sets fast lap at 1m37.9s.

On lap 15 Vettel pits from the lead, and switches to hard tyres, rejoining behind Grosjean and Webber. Grosjean sets fast lap at 1m37.6s. Ricciardo yet to pit having started on hard tyres is up to fourth place.

Rosberg is handed a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release in the pits in front of Perez.

On lap 16 Vettel sets fast lap at 1m37.4s. Rosberg serves his penalty.

Hulkenberg runs in fifth place, ahead of the Ferraris of Massa and Alonso. Hulkenberg closes on Ricciardo, still yet to make his first stop.

On lap 20 Maldonado and Sutil battle side-by-side for 15th place. Alonso gets a run on the front straight and passes his team mate Massa for sixth. Hulkenberg passes Ricciardo through the fast 130R corner.

At lap 20 Grosjean leads Webber by 2.3 seconds, followed by Vettel (5.2s), Hulkenberg (26.0s), Ricciardo (27.0s), Alonso (27.1s), Massa (27.5s), Gutierrez (28.1s), Raikkonen (28.7s) and Perez (29.0s) in tenth place.

On lap 21 Alonso passes Ricciardo into the first corner.

Massa runs wide and Gutierrez goes side-by-side in the hairpin - the two lightly touch. Raikkonen then takes advantage and passes Gutierrez into the 130R corner.

On lap 22 Ricciardo finally makes his first stop and stays on hard compound tyres - so he will need to stop a second time.

On lap 23 Hulkenberg and Alonso have pulled clear of Massa and Raikkonen. Vergne sets fast lap at 1m37.3s. Rosberg passes Buttton into the 130R corner.

On lap 24 Button makes his second stop for another set of hard tyres. The team makes a slow stop.

On lap 25 Rosberg pits and switches to medium tyres. Vettel is told by the team that his pace is good and not to "go bananas".

On lap 25 Webber makes his second pit stop from second place for another set of hard tyres.

On lap 27 Vettel sets fast lap at 1m36.9s. Di Resta pits for more hard tyres. Vettel is told "you are not racing Mark, you are racing Grosjean". Lotus tells Grosjean that he is on target.

On lap 28 Ricciardo passes Di Resta but then runs wide and continues. Grosjean's lead is down to 1.3 seconds - Vettel is told to put pressure on the Frenchman.

On lap 29 Massa pits from sixth. Ricciardo passes Maldonado for 11th.

On lap 30 Grosjean pits from the lead for another set of hard tyres. He rejoins behind Webber in third place. Hulkenberg pits for more hard tyres. Ricciardo is under investigation for his pass on Di Resta.

On lap 31 Alonso pits from fourth place for more hard tyres, rejoining behind Hulkenberg again. Gutierrez and Perez pit has well,

On lap 32 Ricciardo is handed a driver-through penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

On lap 33 Raikkonen makes a slow stop, rejoining in seventh place. Ricciardo serves his penalty.

At lap 33 Vettel leads Webber by 9.9 seconds, followed by Grosjean (19.9s), Hulkenberg (50.4s), Alonso (54.6s), Massa (57.0s), Raikkonen (58.7s), Rosberg (61.7s), Button (67.4s) and Vergne (69.5s) in tenth place.

On lap 35 Grosjean is told that "your pace is good". Massa serves a penalty for speeding in the pits and rejoins in 11th.

On la 36 Raikkonen sets fast lap at 1m35.5s. He is closing on Alonso in fifth place. Webber is told "it is not over yet".

On lap 37 Vettel makes his second stop from the lead for another set of hard tyres - rejoining in third place behind Grosjean. Vettel's tyres are 8 laps fresher than the Frenchman's.

On lap 38 Gutierrez passes Vergne into the first corner.

On lap 39 Vernge pits. Vettel sets fast lap at 1m35.3s and closes to under a second behind Grosjean.

On lap 40 Rosberg pits and switches back to hard tyres. Vettel closes on the tail of Grosjean and passes him in the DRS zone on the front straight for second place.

On lap 41 Button pits and takes more medium tyres.

At lap 41 Webber leads Vettel by 14.5 seconds, followed by Grosjean (16.4s), Hulkenberg (48.1s), Alonso (49.3s), Raikkonen (50.6s), Gutierrez (72.3s), Massa (75.3s), Perez (76.2s) and Rosberg (76.7s) in tenth place.

On lap 43 Webber makes his third pit stop from the lead, switching to medium tyres, rejoining in third behind Vettel and Grosjean. Button passes Sutil for 13th place. Perez pits from 11th place with a puncture after touching Rosberg in the chicane. Alonso is now pressuring Hulkenberg in fourth place.

On lap 45 Webber sets fast lap at 1m34.5s and closes to 2.6 seconds behind Grosjean in second place.

On lap 46 Alonso makes a run and passes Hulkenberg on the outside into the first corner to take fourth place.

On lap 47 Webber on fresh tyres is all over the back of Grosjean's Lotus, but unable to find a way past. Rosberg passes Massa for eighth place.

On lap 49 Grosjean continues to get a good run on Webber out of the chicane and Webber is unable to get close enough through the DRS zone. Rosberg closes on Gutierrez in eighth.

On lap 51 Rosberg is told he is critical on fuel. Grosjean and Webber are dealing with lapped traffic and both pass Maldonado.

On lap 52 Webber, all over the rear of Grosjean finally gets a run in the DRS zone on passes the Frenchman on the inside into the first corner. Raikkonen passes Hulkenberg around the outside into the chicane for fifth place.

The order remains the same on the final lap and Vettel takes the win over Webber and Grosjean.

Button and Massa battle at the final chicane, and Button edges out ahead to hold the position at the flag. Rosberg and Grosjean stop at the end of the pit lane after the flag, presumably low on fuel. Maldonado and Bottas come together at the final chicane. Maldonado forcing his team mate to cut the chicane while passing him for 16th place.