Japan analysis - victorious Vettel back in title race 11 Oct 2010
Sebastian Vettel has come in for his fair share of criticism this season, but in Sundays Japanese Grand Prix the Red Bull driver was untouchable as he delivered the win he needed to stay in title contention. With neither McLaren making the Suzuka podium - and with just three 2010 rounds remaining - its looking increasingly like a three-way showdown for the drivers championship between Vettel, team mate and standings leader Mark Webber, and Ferraris Fernando Alonso. We take a team-by-team look at how events panned out in Japan
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P2
Red Bull extended their lead in the drivers and constructors championships after a superb one-two for Vettel (who really needed a victory) and Webber. The Australian is now 14 points ahead of Alonso and Vettel on 206 with Hamilton and Button fading, while the team have 426 points. The end result might have been close, but Red Bull controlled this one throughout and had a massive advantage, up to seven-tenths of a second, in the crucial first sector thanks to brilliant aerodynamic performance through the Esses.
Fernando Alonso, P3
Felipe Massa, Retired lap 1, accident
Ferrari lost Massa on the opening lap in a violent collision with Liuzzi after the Brazilian got squeezed on to the grass on the inside of Turn 1 trying to challenge the tardy Rosberg. Alonso got a chance to hound the Red Bulls as everyone stacked up behind leader Button in the middle of the race and finished a competitive third, but it was interesting that the red cars had lost pace to McLaren on a track that the Spaniard said was their worst of the four remaining races. Nevertheless, Ferrari remain in clear drivers title contention.
Jenson Button, P4
Lewis Hamilton, P5
McLaren had strong pace at one stage, until Hamiltons run in fourth place folded as he lost third gear and thereafter had to use only fourth to seventh. That dropped him to fifth, but he was relieved to finish. Button started on the hard tyre, led from laps 26 to 38 as others stopped earlier to change their options, but only got a few laps worth of pace-setting performance before his options lost their edge and again finished a distant fourth. McLaren stay second in the constructors stakes with 381, but can see the drivers title disappearing fast.
Michael Schumacher, P6
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 48, wheel loss
At one stage the Mercedes duo were running nose to tail as Rosberg recovered from a very slow start (due to a clutch problem) by pitting under the safety car, which enabled him to head Schumacher. But then the younger Germans left rear wheel flew off on the 48th lap as something at the back of the car broke, leaving Schumacher to score a reasonably competitive sixth place after a more convincing performance than of late.
Kamui Kobayashi, P7
Nick Heidfeld, P8
This was a great day for BMW Sauber, with star Kobayashi doing a Valencia by running relatively late on the hard tyre before switching to the option and making up places again with some brilliant overtaking moves in the hairpin. Among his victims was team mate Heidfeld who started on the options and had nothing left to resist his partner as he was by then struggling for grip. Ten points were a very welcome bonus after Singapore.
Rubens Barrichello, P9
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 1, accident
Not a great race for Williams after their flashes of promise over the weekend. Hulkenberg got clobbered by Petrov on the grid and stopped on the opening lap; Barrichello took ninth, unable to fend off the BMW Saubers. But two points put them within two of Force Indias sixth place in the constructors stakes.
Sebastien Buemi, P10
Jaime Alguersuari, P11
While neither driver played a particularly significant role in the race, Buemi came through to take the final point after Alguersuari had to make a late pit stop after a touch with the ebullient Kobayashi damaged the Toro Rossos front wing.
Heikki Kovalainen, P12
Jarno Trulli, P13
Lotus took a key step towards 10th place overall in the constructors championship, as Kovalainen ran very quickly to take 12th overall, and Trulli 13th a lap down. The Finn was delighted to be able to stay out during the safety-car intervention yet still later maintain position after switching to the prime tyre; Trulli did pit then and got stuck behind Yamamoto for 13 laps. Later he was slowed by hydraulic problems.
Timo Glock, P14
Lucas di Grassi, Did not start, accident
Virgins race got off to a bad start when Di Grassi dropped his VR-01 over the kerb at 130R on the grid formation lap and shunted it heavily. Glock struggled fruitlessly to pass Yamamoto even though he was faster, and finished 14th.
Bruno Senna, P15
Sakon Yamamoto, P16
Yamamoto was an early star of the show, holding off Trulli for many laps and only conceding a place to Glock when he made his tyre stop. Hereafter fuel pressure problems slowed him but he finished, behind team mate Senna whose strategy to stop early for the prime tyre helped him to push hard to close to within two seconds of Glock by the end. Not bad for a car with almost zero development.
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 45, engine
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Retired lap 1, accident
Force India had a horrible time and had to watch Williams close to within two points of sixth place in the constructors championship. Liuzzi made a fantastic start but was collected by the errant Massa in Turn 1 at the start; Sutil was on course for 10th when his engine broke on lap 45.
Robert Kubica, Retired lap 2, wheel loss
Vitaly Petrov, Retired lap 1, accident
After all the promise of Robert Kubicas speed in qualifying and a great start which saw him split the Red Bulls, Renault had an appalling race. Petrov shunted with Hulkenberg at the start, damaging his car heavily and getting a five-place grid penalty for Korea, and Kubicas R30 lost its right rear wheel behind the safety car on lap two. A faulty wheel gun was blamed for not tightening the nut sufficiently.
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