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US GP Review - It Isn't Over until It's Over!!

Formula 1 returned to USA after a 5 year sabbatical. A new track was built in Austin, Texas and it promised state-of-the-art facilities and varying gradients on a very challenging track.

The first turn itself was a steep climb towering at 41 m, a recipe for incidents at the start of the race. This track would test the true prowess of the drivers.

However this race was pivotal for 3 reasons. The outcome of this Grand Prix would influence future ventures for Formula 1 in North America.

Red Bull Racing were on the brink of winning their 3rd consecutive Constructor's Title while Sebastien Vettel was on the verge of becoming a Triple World Champion. Ferrari had nothing too lose and it was clear that they would channelise all their efforts in ensuring that Alonso still has a shot at the title at the final race of the season in Brazil.

Let us see how the drama unfolded!

 

 

FREE PRACTICE :

  

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest driver in both FP1 and FP 2. He set a time 1.5 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in FP1, and 2 seconds faster than title rival Fernando Alonso. The session was run without incident, though drivers reported that there was very little grip around the circuit. Ma Qinghua was the only reserve driver to take part in the session, replacing Narain Karthikeyan at HRT. He finished the session in twenty-fourth and last position, 10 seconds behind Vettel.

Vettel was again fastest in the FP2. Mark Webber and Alonso completed the top 3. Vettel's running was limited by a water leak that forced him to spend half the session in the pits, while Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen suffered a puncture when he made contact with Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.  Pastor Maldonado suffered an engine failure in his Williams late in the session.

Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3 too. Hamilton was 2nd Fastest. The hour-long session was marked by a collision between Sauber's Sergio Perez and the Marussia of Charles Pic that damaged the floor of Pic's car. Perez escaped without penalty. much to the annoyance of Marussia. Jean-Eric Vergne also ran into further trouble, breaking his front suspension when he hit a kerb and stopped on the circuit.

 

 

QUALIFYING :

 

There was very litte grip on the circuit in Q1. Every team sent their drivers out for extended runs  with the objective of laying down enough rubber on the circuit to improve their overall lap time, and trying to time their final flying runs to take full advantage of the circuit.

HRT were initially concerned that they would fail to qualify inside the 107% cut-off, however their decision to send Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan out on the softer option tyres, paid dividends as they made the cut. Karthikeyan's session ended early when he pulled over onto the tarmac run-off at Turn 2, the victim of a mechanical fault.

Caterham's Vitaly Petrov struggled early in the session with traffic, and spent most of the twenty minutes outside the 107% cut-off. His final flying lap saw him qualify 21st for the race, one place ahead of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Daniel Ricciardo was the seventh and final driver eliminated at the end of Q1.

Sebastian Vettel, who had recorded the fastest time in Q1, went on to beat his best time in Q2. The faster lap times now meant that the softer option compound was a necessity. Despite narrowly beating Ricciardo in Q1, Nico Rosberg was unable to improve his time in Q2, and qualified in 17th overall. The Saubers of Perez and Kobayashi filled out the 8th row of the grid. Jean-Eric Vergne overcame his free practice dramas to qualify 14th. Paul di Resta was disappointed to be eliminated in Q2 when team-mate Nico Hulkenberg comfortably progressed to Q3. Jenson Button had to settle for 12th overall when his McLaren MP4-27 lost all power late in the period, and he later admitted that he was afraid of getting caught up in what he called a "chaotic first lap". Bruno Senna was the last driver eliminated in Q2, qualifying in 11th place.

Sebastian Vettel took pole position with the fastest lap of the weekend. In spite of this, Lewis Hamilton was closer to Vettel than he had been all weekend, missing pole position by just one tenth of a second. Mark Webber qualified 3rd, ahead of Romain Grosjean, who was later demoted to 9th when he received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Kimi Raikkonen , Michael SchumacherFelipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Pastor Maldonado completed the top ten.

 

 

Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber were summoned to the stewards' office after qualifying. Schumacher had been cited for blocking Alonso during Q2. Schumacher escaped without punishment, as he had been on a flying lap of his own at the time, and blocking Alonso had not prevented him from advancing to Q3.

Webber, on the other hand, was called to answer charges of missing the mandatory weight check at the end of qualifying. The stewards accepted that Red Bull Racing had made an error and saw that the car was immediately sent to scrutineering once it was realised. Webber escaped with a reprimand, thereby allowing him to keep his grid position for the race.

 

However Ferrari would produce the greatest story of the day. The Team broke the seal of the gearbox of Massa's car causing him to accept a 5 place grid - penalty which would demote him from 7th to 12th and promoted Alonso from 8th to 7th. This allowed the Spaniard to start from the cleaner side of the track and help keep his title hopes alive.

Red Bull too could have countered this move in a similar fashion using Webber and send Alonso back to the dirtier side. However they chose otherwise. Sportsmanship lacking again in this decision by Ferrari.

 

 

RACE :

The Grip on the grid varied drastically between the Cleaner side and the Dirtier side of the Track.

The Five Lights went out and a lot happened going into the First Turn. The Prediction was right, starters on the Dirty Side suffered lack of Traction and lost places rapidly. Sebastian Vettel pulled cleanly away from P1. Mark Webber attacked Lewis Hamilton around the outside in the battle for 2nd. However it was a sensational start for Fernando Alonso who climbed from 7th to 4th in his Ferrari ! Lewis Hamilton lost out to Mark Webber for second, but managed to hold off Alonso.

Michael Schumacher, who started 5th had a terrible lap. First he lost out to Nico Hulkenberg and then to Kimi Raikkonen only to fight back and reclaim his place but in doing so, left the door open to Romain Grosjean who passed both in one move ( Lap 2 )

Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were squabbling for 2nd place while Vettel pulled away from the pair. Hamilton's efforts finally paid dividends on Lap 4 as he passed Webber for 2nd.

Romain Grosjean spun at Turn 19 ( Lap 7 ) and dropped from 6th to 10th. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa finally muscled his way past Michael Schumacher into 8th.

Michael Schumacher was now going backwards and fell into Button's Clutches and the latter had to be brave to get past the German who left very little racing space. 

Kimi Raikkonen, justified his return to F1 when he pulled alongside Nico Hulkenberg around the outside in the run down to Turn Two. They were side-by-side through Turn Two, but Raikkonen kept his foot on the gas and Hulkenberg had no choice but to yield. ( Lap 13 )

Lewis Hamilton was quickly closing in on Sebastien Vettel. Both Cars were matching each other for pace all weekend and their race pace too seemed similar.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the first retirement as his Toro Rosso suffered suspension damage. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher, who had been struggling for pace all race, dived into the pits from 14th.

Lap 17 saw Mark Webber lose KERS and then his subsequent retirement a lap later. Red Bull had enough reason to worry now with Vettel's car. Felipe Massa was now closing in on Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 19 & Lap 20 respectively. The Latter had a very slow stop as the right rear got stuck. Vettel had the perfect stop a lap later and retained his lead. 

Jenson Button was hustling Fernando Alonso ( Lap 23 ) who was struggling on the hard tyres. This was bad news for the championship contender. The McLaren driver used the DRS down the long straight to catapult past the Ferrari driver who did little to defend.  Kimi Raikkonen had not yet pitted and was losing his tyres. He fell into the clutches of Lewis Hamilton who had got his hard tyres up to temperature and wasted little in time in slotting down the inside of the Lotus at Turn 12. Raikkonen finally pitted on Lap 25 but he too encountered a problem on the right rear tyre and was unable to jump Alonso into 5th. Kimi Raikkonen then lost a place to the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 26. Massa's quickfire pitstop ensured that he jumped both Raikkonen and Ricciardo ( Lap 27 ). Kimi Raikkonen, who had his tyres up to temperature, then put a fantastic pass on Felipe Massa into the blind apex of Turn One a lap later.

Laps 32 - 35 saw Vettel lose all his advantage to Hamilton as he started getting caught up in traffic. However the German held on to the lead. Button on the other hand was moving up the field with his switch to the softer compound tyres. Felipe Massa passed Raikkonen to take 4th place on Lap 39.

Lap 42 witnessed a change in leadership, a change that would still leave the Driver's Championship in the balance. Lewis Hamilton got mighty close to Sebastian Vettel after the German got blocked by traffic. As they entered the long straight, Hamilton tucked in behind Vettel and used his DRS to close. Vettel went defensive, taking the inside line but Hamilton just swept to the outside line to make the move stick.

Lap 46 saw Jenson Button take 5th place from Raikkonen after a lot of jostling and wheel-to-wheel racing. The gap between the leaders hovered around a second but Lap 53 saw some rough racing and contact as Maldonado made his way past his team-mate Senna.

 

Lewis Hamilton went on to win the Inaugural United States Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso were the other podium finishers.

Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna completed the top 10.

 

The Podium Finishers :

 

Mario Andretti  was present for the podium interviews :

 

The Result allowed Red Bull Racing to clinch their 3rd consecutive Constructors' Championship!!

 

However the Drivers' Championship had all to play for. Vettel led Alonso by only 13 points. Alonso has never given up.

 

So it ain't over until its over!! So we head to the Brazilian GP to see who will reign supreme in 2012!!

Korean GP Review - Vettel Wrestles back the Lead - Gangnam Style!!

Formula 1 travels back towards the West and its First Stop is Korea. The Results of the Japanese Grand Prix have thrown the Championship Wide Open. Fernando Alonso knew that Ferrari needed to be on the top of the game and expressed his concerns at the lack of performance when compared to that of the Red Bulls.

Sebastien Vettel had pegged back Alonso's lead to 4 points after back-to-back victories in Singapore and Japan.

The Results of the Grand Prix would be pivotal in the Championship Battle....

 

 

FREE PRACTICE :

The first free practice session took place in dry conditions. Lewis Hamilton ended the session as fastest driver, Fernando Alonso who had led most of the ninety-minute session was 2nd while Mark Webber finished in 3rd place.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP2,leading Webber and Alonso. FP2 was an incident free session although Sergio Perez was forced out after 45 minutes of running when his Sauber lost all power and ground to a halt at Turn 12. Perez was able to safely park the car, allowing the session to continue uninterrupted.

Sebastien Vettel continued his dominance into FP3 while the two McLarens of Hamilton & Button slotted into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Red Bull's Mark Webber was 7th after electrical problems with his engine prevented him from getting a run at the end of the session on the 'super-soft' tyre most drivers are expected to use in qualifying.

 

 

QUALIFYING :

Q1 was a very tense one for many teams. Sebsatien Vettel, Jenson Button and Mark Webber were the top 3 of the session.Narain Karthikeyan lost the rear end of his HRT and narrowly missed a Force India who was slowing for Turn 3. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had big hiccups as they just made it into Q2 in 16th and 17th Positions respectively. Bruno Senna joined the Caterhams, Marrusias and the HRTs in the Elimination.

Q2 saw Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso come to a halt. Sebastien Vettel was the quickest again. Jenson Button was the Suprise Elimination from the Session. Both the Saubers, Toro Rossos, Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta were also eliminated.

Q3 saw another incident when Michael Schumacher was released in the path of Lewis Hamilton however the incident was not pursued. Sebastien Vettel made a rare mistake in the first sector of his Second Flying Lap. The Mistake cost him Pole Position. Mark Webber pipped his Team-Mate to Pole Position. Vettel and Hamilton were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Schumacher completed the top 10.

Daniel Ricciardo received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Charles Pic was given a ten-place grid penalty for exceeding the maximum number of engines permitted for use over the course of the season. Narain Karthikeyan failed to set a time after having a brake failure. He was allowed to race at the stewards' discretion.

 

 

 RACE :

The Five Red Lights went out and Sebastien Vettel jumped Mark Webber into First Place on the First Turn. Mark Webber fought back on the Straight into Turn 3 but the German held. It also ensured that no other car had space to challenge the duo on the straight. It was a great start from Fernando Alonso who leapfrogged Lewis Hamilton who got squeezed out at the start. The McLaren driver had a think about a move down the middle of the two Red Bulls, but the gap closed and he was forced to back off. This allowed the championship leader Alonso squeeze down the inside.

The Saubers had an eventful First Lap as both drivers had incidents. Jenson Button was a big loser. The McLaren driver made a good start, but a wreckless Kamui Kobayashi came flying down the inside at Turn Three, missed the braking and smashed into the front right tyre of Button, breaking the suspension and ending the 2009 world champion's race. A Frustrated Button later stated that the drivers should be wary of the techniques adopted as incidents such as these are unforgivable at this level of Motor-Racing. Rosberg too was another retiree, his car hit first by Kamui Kobayashi. Massa passed Raikkonen for 5th place while Kobayashi had to pit for a new front wing. Ricciardo had a brilliant start, rising from 21st to 15th, in his Toro Rosso. Kobayashi was penalised for hitting Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Grosjean pitted on Lap 14 while Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen a lap later. Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 16. Alonso emerged just ahead of Perez whose attempt to move past him backfired and he eventually lost a position to Hamilton. Perez on his wearing tyres was now falling backwards as Massa, Raikkonen passed him in the space of 2 laps. Kamui Kobayashi drove into retirement on Lap 18, a disppointing weekend for the Japanese driver after the joy of being on the podium in his home race only a week earlier.

Vettel was now 6 seconds ahead of Webber who was in turn 3 seconds ahead of Alonso.

Lap 21 saw another twist as Hamilton complained of Loss of Grip ( Attributed later to a Broken Anti-Roll Bar ) and was powerless to fend off Massa who overtook him comfortably using DRS. The Next Couple of laps saw some competitve and safe racing between Hamilton and Raikkonen. Raikkonen tried getting past under DRS on Lap 23 but Hamilton had enough to keep his position into the corner. However a lap later, Kimi was closer and went past him on the outside at the end of the DRS zone. However Hamilton made use of his remaining KERS to wrestle back the position from Raikkonen a turn later. Hamilton finally pitted on Lap 26 and the team had some trouble with Front Right Tyre causing a slight delay.

The Gap at the front was more or less unchanged until the second round of pitstops. Mark Webber was the first to blink when he pitted for a new set of soft tyres on Lap 32. Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 34 and even a clean pitstop wasn't good enough to get him close to the Red Bull of Mark Webber. Sebastian Vettel had a huge lock-up on Lap 35 and was told by his team to pit immediately.

It was Status Quo at the front after the final round of pitstops.

Lap 38 saw Vettel set the Fastest Lap of the race and he had to be assured by the team that the gap to Webber was adequate enough and there was no need to push unnecessarily. Meanwhile Felipe Massa had closed in on Fernando Alonso and the latter found it to be a little too close for comfort. Ferrari however ensured that Massa would not harry Alonso by asking the former to stay withing 2-3 seconds of his team-mate. Ferrari's customary tactics did the job again as Massa yielded. Meanwhile Paul di Resta finally went past Michael Schumacher who had made this really hard for the British driver up until that lap. Their duel had given Perez an opportunity to close up and try a move on Schumacher but the German kept the door shut.

Lap 40 saw some more action as drivers started experiencing wear on their tyres. Grosjean went on the outside of the McLaren of Hamilton at the end of Turn 3. Hamilton, struggling on failing tyres positioned his car well and forced Grosjean wide; that allowed Nico Hulkenberg to close up and the three of them almost went three abreast towards Turn 4. Hamilton defended again, but Hulkenberg went around the outside of both Hamilton and Grosjean in an absolutely stunning move!!!

Fernando Alonso was now struggling and falling into the hands of Felipe Massa who was setting Blistering laps but the Brazilian had to hold station as instructed by Ferrari.

Hamilton did his 3rd Stop on Lap 43 and rejoined 10th. It had been a race to forget for the team with Button's retirement and Hamilton's lack of race pace after qualifying in such a promising position.

Hamilton's newer tyres had given him the much needed performance and he closed in on Jean-Eric Vergne ( Lap 47 ). The McLaren driver couldn't make a move stick down at Turn Three, but saved some KERS and used it in the run down to Turn Four. Hamilton pulled to the outside and tried to cut back, but Vergne didn't yield his position.

The track was falling apart by Lap 50, a huge embarassment for the organisers. Charles Pic ran over a bit of astroturf which has lodged itself free. A Williams ran wide at the same corner and kicked another piece up in the air.

Fernando Alonso seemed to have some life left in his tyres and was now catching the Red Bull of Mark Webber ( Lap 51 ), the latter however tried to maintain the gap around 4 seconds. The duo of Vergne and Hamilton had caught up with Ricciardo and an interesting battle was in store for the last 5 laps. Lap 53 saw Vergne go past his team-mate Ricciardo although Hamilton had to wait another lap.

The fight at the front was getting really intriguing. Red Bull was asking its drivers to nurse their tyres home!! Vettel was warned of unpredictable braking and the last couple of laps were tense for both Team and Driver.

An absolute nightmare awaited Lewis Hamilton on Lap 54. The McLaren driver picked up a piece of astroturf that attached itself to the side of the car and was seen flapping around. The Briton dropped back from the Toro Rossos as he struggled to keep control of an ill-handling car.

Sebastian Vettel's race engineer was on the radio again, telling him to be careful. The German backed right off and and coasted towards victory.

South Korean Rapper Psy waved the chequered flag as Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to take victory!! Mark Webber with Fernando Alonso were the other podium finishers.

Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Vergne, Ricciardo and Hamilton completed the top 10. Hamilton had to fend off a late charge from Perez on the last lap to grab the Solitary Point.

So Red Bull Celebrated its First 1-2 of the Season. Ferrari moved ahead of McLaren in the Constructor Battle but the Drivers' Championship now had a new leader.

Vettel had leapfrogged Alonso to lead the Championship by 6 points. The Red Bulls are now going from strength to strength. Vettel notched up his 4th win of the season, 3 consecutive wins for the German.

The Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean gathered good points as Kimi extended his lead over Hamilton to retain 3rd place in the Drivers' Championship Standings.

Kimi Raikkonen was also the only driver to have finished every race this season.

 

The Next Round is India!!! I shall be in the Paddock again as a guest of the Lotus F1 Team, so lots of photos coming your way... soon.

Watch this Space!

 

Japanese GP Review - Vettel throws the Title Race Wide Open!!

Singapore saw Sebastien Vettel win. Fernando Alonso would now be looking over his shoulder and digging deep to keep his lead in the Championship Alive. The 15th Round of the Formula 1 season was held at Suzuka Japan. Lewis Hamilton's retirement in Singapore left him 4th in the Standings 50 points behind the leader, his title chances now seemingly over.

The Japanese Grand Prix would however produce a result which would bring ecstasy to one driver and angst and frustration for another. Lets see how it all unfolded!

 

FREE PRACTICE :

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton set the fastest times during the first session for McLaren Mercedes.The Red Bull of Mark Webber 3rd. Sebastian Vettel had a session to forget in 17th. Williams' reserve driver Valtteri Bottas filled in for Bruno Senna and finished the session 18th; Giedo van der Garde did the same for Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham and set the 23rd fastest time. There were no incidents damaging any of the cars during the session.

2nd Practice saw Mark Webber finish the fastest. Hamilton and Vettel 2nd and 3rd respectively. The Lotuses were 6th and 14th, Kimi clearly struggling with the Right Setup.
Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher crashed at Spoon curve in 2nd practice.

Saturday Free Practice saw the Resurgence of Sebastien Vettel. The German gathering momentum for Qualifying. Mark Webber too maintained his consistency and Felipe Massa brought some hope for Ferrari in 3rd. However Qualifying was what was important.

 


QUALIFYING :

Sergio Perez, out on the Harder Compound Prime tyre ran wide at the end of the Esses and bounded across the gravel before wrestling the car back on track. Later in Q1, Bruno Senna, in his Williams, was impeded by the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne. On the approach to the final chicane he was held up by the slow-moving Vergne and had to forskae his next flying lap in frustration. Vergne was issued with a three-place grid penalty for the race. Vergne made it to Q2 in 17th. Michael Schumacher left it late in the session to set a time and after making a mistake at the second Degner curve, he found himself in last place with one last lap to make it into Q2; after slower first and second sectors he dug deep and just scraped throught to 16th bumping Senna out. Romain Grosjean set the session's fastest time on the softer compound tyres, followed by the two Saubers and Kimi Raikkonen.

Every car used the option tyres during the second part of qualifying. Di Resta complained over his pit-to-car radio after he had to weave in and out of Webber and Grosjean on a flying lap approaching the final chicane. Felipe Massa, Paul Di Resta, Michael Schumacher, Pastor Maldonado, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne failed to make it into Q3. Schumacher's penalty from Singapore demoted him to 23rd from 13th. Vergne after serving his penalty for Impeding started the race from 19th. Thus Senna, Kovalainen and Glock started 2 places further up on the grid in 16th, 17th and 18th respectively, and behind Vergne, de la Rosa, Pic and Petrov moved up 1 place on the grid to start from 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively in front of Schumacher and Karthikeyan.

 

Q3 began with a lack of action on track. However, the McLarens, Red Bulls and Lotuses all chose to do two separate flying lap efforts. Vettel and Webber had set the 1st and 2nd fastest times on the first timed runs. Button was 3rd, followed by Grosjean and Raikkonen and Hamilton's McLaren. During the 2nd timed run, Kimi Raikkonen ran wide at Spoon curve, and whilst returning onto the track, spun and stopped at the edge of the track. Yellow flags were brought out, and Perez was the only driver in front of Raikkonen who did not have to slow down.

Vettel and Webber were both on faster laps than their previous ones, but were unable improve their times because of the yellow flags. They maintained their grid slots, though, as the team took their 1st front row lock-out of the season!!

Vettel claimed his 4th successive pole at the Suzuka circuit, maintaining his 100% record. This was his 34th pole postion. He moved into third in the all-time list for pole positions, behind Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. Vettel had held Fernando Alonso up during his flying lap, but he was given a reprimand. An Important Let-off.

Button marginally improved his time, remaining in 3rd place but would eventually become 8th on the grid due to a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Kamui Kobayashi took an impressive 4th place for Sauber, but immediately after he set the time it was suggested that he had not slowed down in the yellow flag area.He had gone green in that sector on the Timing Screen. However he was allowed to keep the place on the grounds he had not used KERS or DRS as normal. Button's gearbox penalty promoted him to 3rd on the grid. This was the best Qualifying position for a Japanese Driver in his Home Race.

Grosjean, Perez, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Hulkenberg completed the Top 10. Hamilton moaned about the setup change which robbed him of a better Qualifying position. Hulkenberg's Gearbox change demoted him to 15th on the grid.

The components were now becoming limited for many teams and everyone would have to be careful about the stipulated number of components over a season.

 

 

 

RACE :

 

Every driver except Jean-Eric Vergne, Charles Pic and Michael Schumacher started the race on the softer compound 'option' tyres.

Collisions were the norm on the first lap again. The First Turn incidents caused the Safety Car to be Deployed.

Vettel led away from pole and Kobayashi had a faster start than Webber and moved up into 2nd to the Applause of the Crowd. Meanwhile, Alonso and Raikkonen were battling for position on the left hand side of the track. Alonso moved right across to block Raikkonen's charge into the first turn ( something that has become a norm against Raikkonen ).
As Raikkonen was pushed further and further towards and onto the grass, the front wing of the Lotus clipped Alonso's rear wheel, puncturing the tyre and sending him into a spin across the gravel. The Spaniard was out of the Race! Great News for the Title Rivals and Time to curtail the lead at the Front!

Romain Grosjean, was too busy attempting to stay in front of the fast-starting Sauber of Perez on his outside at the first corner. The lack of awareness cost him and he ran into the back of Mark Webber, spinning him round at Turn 2 and breaking his own wing in the process.
This crash had consequences for other drivers as well, Bruno Senna attempted to slide into a disappearing gap on Nico Rosberg's inside in order to avoid the crash. This broke Senna's wing and forced Rosberg to retire from the race.

Webber, Senna and Grosjean all had to pit for new front wings.
Button was the big mover. He gained 5 places at the start and was already 3rd!
Massa also moved up 6 places to 4th.
Debris and Collisions meant the Safety Car was out and sanity was restored on Lap 3.

At the end of the safety car period, and the beginning of lap 3, Vettel sprinted away from Kobayashi, quickly establishing a 3 second lead and building on it. Sergio Perez attempted to overtake Raikkonen for 5th place at Turn 1, but was forced wide and slotted in behind 6th place Hamilton. He managed to overtake Hamilton at the hairpin after a few laps of closing him down, locking his tyres and creeping around the apex. He then began to move back towards the 5th placed Lotus of Raikkonen.

Heikki Kovalainen had surprised everyone when he was at running in 11th position. The incidents of the First Lap were investigated and Romain Grosjean was handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for the collision he caused. He ended up at the back when his Penalty was served. Michael Schumacher meanwhile had climbed his way from 23th to 14th, despite the German losing telemetry to the team.

Vettel and Massa were the drivers showing good pace when Button became the first driver to make a scheduled pit-stop in the race on lap 13. Raikkonen and Hulkenberg pitted on lap 14 from 5th and 8th positions repsectively, having to make their way past Vergne and Kovalainen after their pit stops.

Kobayashi pitted on lap 16 to promote Felipe Massa to 2nd place, but kept Button behind him as both were temporarily held up by drivers yet to stop. Vettel and Massa pitted on lap 20 and maintained their positions. Massa had leap-frogged both Kobayashi and Button with a quick stop and the Brazilian was clearly having a fantastic resurgence. Perez attempted the same move he had overtaken Hamilton with the previous time at the hairpin on lap 20, but this time Hamilton moved to the inside line and Perez carried too much speed into the corner, sliding round and getting stuck in the gravel trap.

On lap 22, Senna was given a drive through penalty for his contact with Rosberg at the start of the race. By this point, Mark Webber had worked his way back up to 9th place, but had to pit a few laps later.

Hamilton and Kobayashi pitted on lap 31, one lap after Raikkonen, who Hamilton was competing with now for 5th spot. He overtook him at Turn 1 on the following lap. Kimi tried overtaking Lewis on the outside and both left enough racing space for each other. Both Veterans showed how racing should be done

Button, Massa and Vettel piited on laps 35, 36 and 38 respectively, and all retained their positions in 4th, 2nd and 1st, with Kobayashi in 3rd. Michael Schumacher opted for a different tyre strategy and was the only driver on the softer tyres when he pitted on lap 37. He spent much of the remainder of the race behind the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo, fighting for 10th place, but never eventually gaining it due to some impressive defending.

Button spent the final stint of the race closing to within one second of Kobayashi, but never managing to overtake the Sauber driver.

Sebastian Vettel took the 24th victory of his career and became the 1st driver to take consecutive victories in the 2012 season.

Felipe Massa ended the longest streak a Ferrari driver had ever had without a podium by finishing 2nd, taking his first since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix. Kobayashi became the 3rd Japanese driver to score a Formula One podium, in front of his home crowd, with his best result of 3rd place. The McLarens of Button and Hamilton finished in 4th and 5th places, followed by Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Webber and Ricciardo who completed the top 10. Romain Grosjean retired on the final lap due to a gearbox problem. It was a smart decision by Lotus F1 as the reitrement allowed them to change components for the next race.

As a consequence of his victory and Alonso's retirement, Vettel closed the gap between himself and championship leader Alonso to just 4 points. In an interview after the race, Mark Webber desribed Romain Grosjean as a "first-lap nutcase" with regard to the collision Grosjean caused between them at the race start.

Alonso also questioned Kimi's refusal to lift the throttle, something he feels would have avoided the incident. However Alonso must remember that every driver is here to race. No one will yield positions easily. Ferrari are renowned for influencing decisions and Alonso thought something would be ruled in his favour. However I don't see the reason for his discontent. Fernando was the one who moved across the track, he was the one who tried to block Kimi's run into the First Turn. Kimi has every right to defend and take a position and Fernando must realise that every driver isn't going to capitulate easily.

Mark Webber was frustrated by the shunt he suffered at the start due to Grosjean. He also indicated that the One Race-Ban wasn't enough for Romain. I am sure Grosjean would emerge stronger from this incident and mature as a driver. I pray that we wouldn't see another incident caused due to him.

The Japanese crowd deserve credit for the atmosphere. The Stand were shouting " KAMUI KAMUI !! " for Kamui on the podium.

The Result has thrown this Title race WIDE OPEN! Vettel has the momentum, Alonso has to muster all his resources to keep his lead.

We now turn our attention to Korea and who would have thought that Vettel would be a Contender this season!! Red Bull Racing have turned it around since Singapore!!!