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Vettel leads Red Bull whitewash in Japanese Grand Prix
Vettel leads Red Bull whitewash in Japanese Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Oct 2010   |  8:51 am GMT  |  151 comments

Sebastian Vettel dominated the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka for a second year in a row, winning from team mate Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.

The McLaren drivers finished fourth and fifth with Button ahead as Hamilton again hit gearbox problems. It was a new gearbox for this race and he may be needing another one.

It was Vettel’s third win of the 2010 season and the 8th win of his career. It puts him back in the championship hunt.

“This is our circuit,” said Vettel over the radio to his team on the slow down lap.

Vettel started the race from pole for the eighth time, but it was only the second time he has won from pole this season.

But Mark Webber increased his championship lead to 14 points over Alonso and Vettel. He was ten points ahead of Alonso at the start of the race. Hamilton is just about hanging in there 28 points behind, while Button looks like his challenge is running out of steam, 31 points off the lead with a maximum of 75 available. Unless McLaren get a 1-2 in Korea, it’s starting to look like a three horse race.

Clearly Number 1 in Japan (Getty)

Qualifying took place on Sunday morning for only the second time in six years, having been washed out by rain on Saturday.

Vettel took pole position, squeezing out team mate Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton did a mighty lap for third, which became eighth after he took a five place penalty for a gearbox change. Robert Kubica did an outstanding job to get ahead of Fernando Alonso, while Nico Rosberg again outperformed the car – and his team mate – in sixth. Felipe Massa could manage only 12th.

McLaren again found that the some of the development parts it brought to Japan didn’t translate to better pace and feel on the race track, the new rear wing in particular. They didn’t feel that they had done enough miles on it and so took it off. This is an area McLaren will be reviewing, as they have had some issues with bedding in new parts compared with their rivals.

Lucas di Grassi had a huge shunt on the way to the grid, his car turning right on the exit of the left hander at 130R corner.

The theme continued at the start. Petrov cut across Hulkenberg and hit the wall, taking both of them out. Petrov has been penalised with a five place grid penalty at the next race. Felipe Massa tried to go up the inside on the grass into Turn 1 and took Tonio Liuzzi out of the race, although there was no penalty for him. The incidents brought out the safety car on lap 1.

Webber got yet another poor start, losing second place to Kubica. But the Pole pulled off the track to retire, as they followed behind the safety car. His right rear wheel had come off.

This promoted Button to fourth place. He and Kobayashi started the race on the hard tyre and it was to prove the race’s main tactical interest. Hamilton was fifth with Schumacher sixth, having passed Barrichello at the restart.

Vettel led, from Webber, the Red Bulls pulling away from Alonso at a second a lap. Hamilton was tucked up behind Button, losing half a second a lap to Alonso as Button was on the slower hard tyre.

The opening stint was fairly dull, the Red Bulls driving away from Alonso and the McLarens. Kobayashi lit things up a little with a wild passing move on Alguersuari at the hairpin for P10. It was the first of many entertaining moves from this exciting young driver.

Hamilton pitted on lap 23, the leader Vettel on lap 25 along with Alonso, while Webber pitted a lap later. This promoted Button to the lead.

Schumacher pitted from sixth and found he’d been undercut by Rosberg. The pair got stuck into a spirited battle, Schumacher being told over the radio, there are no team orders but Rosberg has been told not to cut you up if you try a move!

Button and Kobayashi the two drivers who started on hard tyres, stayed out trying to make the strategy work.

Hamilton, recovering from his five place gearbox penalty, had a very strong race, closing on Alonso in the second half of the race until his new gearbox started playing up, he lost 3rd gear with about 15 laps to go. With Button on new soft tyres, he caught Hamilton very quickly and passed him.

Sutil’s engine blew on lap 45, leaving a trail of oil through 130R and the chicane. The German kept going in order to save himself a walk back to the pits.

Schumacher had been stuck behind Rosberg since the pit stops but on lap 48 Rosberg’s car let go and he crashed heavily.

Kobayashi on new soft tyres in the closing stages was electric. He passed Barrichello and Heidfeld, both at the hairpin, moving up to seventh.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, Suzuka, 53 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h30:27.323
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 0.905
3. Alonso Ferrari + 2.721
4. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 13.522
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 39.595
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 59.933
7. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:04:038
8. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 1:09.648
9. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:10.846
10. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:12.806
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
14. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
15. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
16. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
17. Rosberg Mercedes + 5 laps

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Andrewshould be working

McLarens tactic of shooting Button off long on the primes was the perfect way of slowing the RB’s charge and backing them into a charging LH. For it to work Button should have let Lewis through early on instead of bottling him up behind him for so many laps. In the end Lewis’ gearbox failed but had Button followed the tactics correctly it may have been an ineresting race


I really enjoyed this race,plenty of highs and lows and the track layout is superb.

Red Bull very much in control as was Alonso to a lesser extent,each time the McLarens seem to close in he appeared to have enough in reserve,Hamilton closed in very quickly,but it stayed around the 3 second mark long before his gearbox started to give trouble,and Button couldn,t get any closer to attack.

I,m sure Alonso just paced himself and his engine,but in the press conference he said something quite telling.

A question was asked to him regarding the comments he made about podium finishes,are they enough? a race win must now be his target,he just smiled and said “no”….

As for Kobayashi he was certainly entertaining,i don,t however share the view he deserves a better car…yet,some of the moves were in blind faith the other driver didn,t turn in,and it was home turf which as they say can make all the difference. Mclarens gearbox woes from what we heard after is mechanical rather than electronics,Hamilton mentioned lots of nasty noises,and Whitmarsh also backed this up when he said downshifts were limited to 4th,my guess is if its an internal issue it will be another gearbox for Korea,in which case another 5 grid drop for Hamilton,maybe James can clarify.


Red Bull looked quite dominant at Suzuka, but I think McLaren look better in terms of pace compared to the Ferrari. Hamilton’s lap in Qualifying was superb, proving that despite not doing many laps in practice that he is clearly the fastest driver in Formula 1. I think Red Bull will be strong in Korea, weaker in Brazil, weakest of the Top 3 teams in Abu Dhabi. McLaren will be just behind Red Bull in Korea, and fastest in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, with Abu Dhabi being tailor-made for Hamilton and McLaren, in the same way Canada is for the both of them. Ferrari will be behind Red Bull and McLaren in Korea and Brazil, as well as being behind McLaren in Abu Dhabi. I also think that Kubica and possibly the Mercedes could have a say in who wins the championship.

Off the topic, in Friday’s press conference, the team representatives were asked about who their teams would run at the young drivers test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season, Norbert Haug didn’t seem quite sure about who would be running for Mercedes. I can suggest two drivers for you. New All-Japan F3 Champion Yuji Kunimoto, whose team TOMS is sponsored by Petronas, as are Mercedes, making it a perfect match, and Force India test driver Paul di Resta if Force India are not going to test anyone, as he deserves a race seat in F1. What do you think, James?


I’m not sure that Di Resta is eligible due to his role with FI this season. Will be interesting to see who Mercedes go for. I hope to see Jules Bianchi in the Ferrari


I definitely agree with Jules Bianchi driving at Ferrari for the Young Drivers Test. He is a huge talent, despite having a tougher season than expected in the GP2 Series.


QUESTION ? . . . . About the Hamiltion Gearbox

If there is mechanisim problem which can’t fixed it externally, not the electronic control. if it need to be changed to the new gearbox, will hamilton get another 5 grid penalty again ?

look like now there is hopeless WDC for both McLaren driver. unless Mark must have at least one DNF, otherwise it is over for Mclaren now.


If you want to hear the gearbox fail and you have the race on PVR, then do the following:

Go to lap 38, onboard Hamilton camera. Follow the engine sound when he exits the hairpin. That seems to be when 3rd gear failed.

I am not a mechanical engineer, but it doesn’t sound like an electronic failure.

It sounds like a mistake in the upshift by LH.


I’m not fussed about the driver’s championship this year (I think eventually the anger & disgust at the behind-the-scenes messing around in the teams has worked its effect and I’m starting to disengage from F1 after 30 years!) so the race was pretty boring to me, except for the breath of fresh air from Kobayashi.

But I have to say, for a sport that is meant to be the pinnacle of technology, how on earth do they explain two cars losing a wheel when they are just driving along … and one of them when going slowly?

F1 is really losing it



Well, that one turned into a procession, after five cars exited on (or before!) lap 1.

Red Bull won both Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year (I think…!), and Korea is a wild card. If Seb can go win, win, win, he’ll pick up 21 points minimum on Mark. Come on Mark, one more win…


Nice summary, James!

Question – do you think Red Bull have settled things down behind the scenes now? Mark and Seb don’t look like best friends, but they both seem to be saying the right things in public (which wasn’t always the case!), and Christian Horner’s post-race quotes have become much better.


I think there is a fierce competition between them, as always. Will it spill over again as it did in Turkey? I doubt it, but if its between them at the final race, it will make for a very strange atmosphere


If it’s between them at the final race, whoever has the points lead gets a free “turn in” on their teammate into the first corner lol


How the hell can Massa get away with no penalty while Petrov is sent back 5 places?



Totally agree.

for Petrov, he just run on the straight and his rear wheel just touch the Nico wing when he have to avoid Nick from the right side, it just accident if there is no wall there, the damage won’t look too bad.

but for Massa, he put the car inside the corner which he really know there is no place to be, then hit apex and go across to hit force india out, the only place he can be is follow Rosberg no space to try to overtake from inside, this is really stupid driver mistake that he suppose to get the panalty.

Petrov didn’t do the danger move, while Massa did.

In my eye, Massa should get the Penalty more than Petrov.

Andrewshould be working

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Whitmarsh’s talk of upgrades being fitted and thn taken off is just smoke and mirrors to hide the shortcommings. My guess is that they’ve closed the book on develping this car and focusing on next season. he talk of upgrades is purely to keep RB and Ferrari ploughing resources into this seasns car. If nothing else, in the close season McLaren have to look at their persistent bad calls from the pit wall


Kobayashi is for real!! Hope he’ll drive for a top team in the future.


Hi James,

Is there a safety issue with these hand-operated F-ducts? Watching on-board camera with Kamui Kobayashi, you see he’s only got one hand on the wheel for a significant chunk of the lap. Surely that’s grounds for these things to be banned? A knee is one thing but the back of a hand, requiring it to come off the wheel?


I think it’s certainly not ideal! Not been a safety issue so far, though


Whenever we get to see onboard footage of the 2 Red Bull drivers, I’m always surprised by how much more Vettel appears to use it. It could just be the lack of footage, but it appears that he uses it to greater effect than Webber.


Like many I’m amazed by Kobayashi…. he’s just confirmed the promisses he showed end of last year. He’s no double a great driver and an unbelievable fighter. Would like to see him in a top team.

Is he gonna be the first Japanese to win a GP? He deserves it.


I love the way you say that Hamilton is still in the hunt but Button is out of steam now as if the 3 point gap makes a huge difference. Don’t make me laugh. It’s a three horse race now sadly.


Don’t count your chickens …………….


I don’t know why so many people are down on Button. (I’m talking about Macca fans, not James)

I am no fan of his, but let’s look at some history:

1. he lost points even though there were no driver errors: Monaco & Spa (where he was minding his own business)

2. I hope I don’t reopen a can of worms, but Hamilton could have received 2 penalties down to his own performance: Canada (for running out of fuel in qualy which would have sent him down the grid) and when he passed the safety car.

If those are factored in, he had a better season overall than Hamilton.

Just something I have thought about.


Good point on the two penalties.

Don’t get me wrong guys I hope it’s a five horse race to the end but the top 3 drivers need DNFs for the Mclaren guys to have any chance in the drivers championship.


I’d love to see McLaren replace Button for Koby.
can you imagine that guy in a McLaren alongside Hamilton?
that would bring the fight to Red Bull and Ferrari.

I don’t think Koby would approach race weekends hoping for his rivals to drop out to gain places.


If you were a team who didn’t believe in team orders would you not want 1 really good driver who’s title challenge might fade by the last 3 races and 1 excellent driver? This way one ends up driving for the other but gaining a lot of constructor points in the belief they can win.

From a Mclaren point of view I’m not sure they need a competitive driver and actually Koby is hardly what you would call consistent.


Do you really think that Koby could drive the performance challenged McLaren significantly faster than Jenson?? I think not….


why not.?


Probably one reqason is thats he’s only scored 27 points this year and Button has scored 189(although, I hear you say, he’s not in a McLaren)… All the doomsters last year predicted Hamilton would thrash Button, but with only 3 points difference that didn’t happen either. The fact is that the McLaren is not fast enough – if it were more competitive both Hamilton and Button would be further up the rankings – simples..


That would make Maclaren have like 2 race finish, since most of the times Hamilton and Kob would crash trying to impulsively overtake… I like to watch but in the team perspective maybe its not the best choice.


maybe, but F1 is longing for multiple teams with truly exciting lineups. not a lead ‘racer’ and a ‘steady but safe’ back up partner.

this could be it.

sponsors and fans would love to have such an exciting line up. the closet we have is the Red Bull pairing, which is great but imagine a an aggressive McLaren line up to take the race to them….


He would clearly benefit McLaren – 2/3rds of Bulls, Ferraris and Mercedeses would never reach finish line.


Aside from Kobayashi’s masterful display at the hairpin it was “Boring”!.F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport but they still broadcast in inglorious LOW DEF,even NASCAR is HI DEF.One bonus was near the end the commentary went down & we got to listen to the cars instead of the two Ronnie’s,a rare treat that should be repeated,often.HAM gets a 5 place penalty due to the actions of the Aussie stockcar steerer & the cost just keeps on going,another 5 place pen next race due to another gearbox failure,if McLaren fix the same gearbox do they still get the penalty?,”its still the same box”.Time to take some of the rules back to the logical state they were in pre the Mosley head swell era.


I think he is ok for the next race as it was due to change anyway. I think they have to do 4 races.


That was a brand new gearbox. McLaren could have changed Hamilton’s box after Singapore, as he had not finished the race, and not taken a penalty. But they didn’t, as they wanted him to race with the Singapore box, and then he’d have a fresh one for the final three races, in case he was still in contention at Abu Dhabi

However the box broke during third practice due to damage from Singapore, and McLaren were forced to change it. As they were doing so during the grand prix weekend, it was a five place drop.

But as I understand it, because his new replacement gearbox broke, he is able to change it penalty free


How good was it to hear Crofty for all of 5mins…! Lets hope the BBC were listening because you could hear the groans for miles when Legard was plugged back in…..!!!

‘that’s a decent inlap’, ‘looked decent enough’, ‘it’s at least decent.’……!!! Do me a favour!


I know I wished i could have kept the 5 live commentary PSDont forget about the final charge the final push!!!!


Isn’t the 5live commentary available on the Red Button?

Crofty and Brundle for BBC One next year!

And I have to say well done to the Beeb. They lost the main feed, so rather than face the prospect of running to the end without commentary, they quickly patched in another feed.


Renault should have quietly negotiate with Kimi and get him signed. The difference between Kubica and Petrov shows how much further ahead they could be with two of the strongest drivers.


James, could you elaborate on Ferrari’s pace over the race? Alonso didn’t finish a mile down on the Bulls even though they appeared mightily dominant in qualifying and the earlier part of the race. Was this down to traffic at the end or the team asking the two drivers to not push harder than required? Or was the Ferrari genuinely up to pace over a race distance? If it is the latter, how does that translate for the remaining races?


I don’t think the Ferrari was upto the pace of the Mclaren today, nevermind the Red Bull.


If thats the case then how come Alonso beat both Mclarens?


Lewis qualified P3 but was given a start grid penalty and then raced with a faulty gearbox.

Jenson (arguably) would have out qualified Alonso had he been on the same tyre strategy as everyone else.


Gearbox problems for Hamilton stalled his advance on Alonso and had to drop back.


Because Hamilton had gearbox failure (at precisely the moment he was taking half a second a lap out of the Ferrari). And Jensen was on a silly tyre strategy.

Look at qualifying. Who was faster Ferrari or Mclaren?


I thought the TV director was pretty poor today. Too much Yamamoto! And we didn’t ever get to see Schumi’s pass on Rubens, not even a replay. From the last little bit we saw of it it looked like a good move.


I have a question. Why didn’t Mark Webber join celebration with Vettel and staffs after race ? As he hates Japan, he just wanted to leave Japan as soon as possible ?


great race again from the bulls&fernando, but been a mclaren fan i have to say the lack of common sense from lewis and martin w have seriously damage my confidence in both of them, is one thing making mistakes we all do, but a complete lack of commonsense approch to vital races its a big joke


I am a die hard Schumi fan but I think Kobi is easily the most exciting driver of the season.

He overtook, he didn’t crash.

The thing is that if driver A fights with driver B, we want to see some gladiator action between the two just like Kobi did.

It doesn’t happen often which is a shame really.


A rather uneventfull, dull race for the front runners, save Lewis’ bad luck and Kubica’s problem early in the race. The fun was in the middle pack with Kamui providing a lot of excitement. The Maclaren drivers are practically out of the running. The WDC will be decided by the performance of the Red Bull drivers. It is theirs to win or lose.


did digrassi’s car have a mechanical failure? hard to understand driver error with digrassi.

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