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Japanese Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Oct 2012   |  8:46 pm GMT  |  179 comments

Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to win back-to-back races this season but there were plenty of strong performances throughout the field. Who was your driver of the day?

Sebastian Vettel

Looked quick in Friday practice and followed that up with a stunning lap in his first run in qualifying to start on pole position in Japan for the fourth successive year. Made a textbook start to avoid the carnage behind him and from then on controlled the race at the front to win his second successive race and third of the season. Victory also moved him to joint-eighth on the all-time list alongside Juan Manuel Fangio on 24 as well as bringing him to within four points of championship leader Fernando Alonso.

Felipe Massa

Arrived in Japan fighting for his Ferrari seat for 2013 but was immediately on the pace and was consistently beating his more illustrious team-mate Alonso. Looked quick in the first session of qualifying, but didn’t deliver when it mattered in Q2 and qualified 11th. That became 10th following Nico Hulkenberg’s gearbox penalty. Starting on fresh tyres, the Brazilian blasted out of the blocks, avoiding the first corner carnage to run fourth early on. Jumped both Jenson Button and Kamui Kobayashi during the stops to move into second. Couldn’t keep pace with Vettel but drove well to finish second and score his first podium since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix.

Kamui Kobayashi

Faced question marks over his future at Sauber and was under pressure to perform in front of his home crowd. Delivered strong pace in practice and achieved one of his best qualifying results by finishing fourth fastest. That became third following Button’s gearbox penalty. Avoided the first corner mess to run second but dropped to third when Massa leapfrogged him during the stops. Withstood strong pressure from Button in the closing stages to finish third and score his first F1 podium and first for a Japanese driver on home soil since Aguri Suzuki in 1990.

Kimi Raikkonen

Qualified seventh and had a good start pulling alongside Alonso before tapping the Ferrari driver on the approach to Turn One. Picked up damage to his front wing from the contact but managed to continue. Ran strongly from then, and though he lost fifth place to Hamilton, held on to finish sixth – his 14th points finish in 15 races.

Nico Hulkenberg

Put himself on the back foot by crashing in Saturday practice, but did a super job to get himself out of Q1 having been rushed into the car with only a few minutes remaining. Reached Q3, but dropped back five places from 10th because the gearbox had to be changed following damage. Drop strongly from 15th to rise up to eighth by the end of the lap. Race strongly to make another place and finish seventh – his seventh points finish of the season.

Pastor Maldonado

Outpaced Williams team-mate Bruno Senna once more in both practice and qualifying, but failed to make it into Q3 and started 12th. Made a clean start and kept his nose clean, gradually making up places to run eighth. Held on to that position to score his first points finish since taking his first and only victory in the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Daniel Ricciardo

Started 14th but lost a position to Hulkenberg as he struggled to get away. Made some places up thanks to the first corner incident and enjoyed a good battle with Mark Webber in the middle part of the race. Held off Michael Schumacher brilliantly in the closing stages to finish 10th for his fourth points finish of the season.

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Massa and Kamui for me.

Kobayashi’s podium was more straightforward than Peres’s podiums. The later usually fucks up the qualy, has a choice of tyres at the start and uses an alternative approach to strategy which works sometimes in combination with the Sauber’s chassis characteristics. Kamui fought in front all race long and did not rely on tyre conservation capabilities of his car. I dont remember a similar race from Perez.


I voted for Kamui. All things considered, I thought he drove an excellent race.

I was also impressed with Felipe and Webber. Vettel won beautifully from pole but this was to be expected. I fully expect him to win the WDC now. He is the best (current) driver in the best (current) car in the best team. I fully expect he will get zero respect from certain contributors to this forum who wouldn’t know a champion if he bit them on the leg.

I’m a little surprised Lewis wasn’t in the poll. He did after all start and finish the race. He drove around a car that was obviously rubbish (by virtue of the fact that he was neither on pole nor won the race). Surely this gives him a nomination by default.


Riccardo on this occassion. Just for holding his own with everyone and anyone who wanted to come by. He made them all work their rights of passage.


Maybe this has already been mentioned. Isn’t the picture of Massa actually Alonso?


It would be interesting to see Driver of the Day, Driver of the Weekend and possibly even the Most Interesting Driver of GP polls and see whether the result would be different.

It tends to be that if you dominate Q and then follow through with dominating the race it’s not perceived as glorious in DotD-poll as rise from, say, 18th to 6th on Sunday (numbers just examples).


James as an Alonso fan, and a fan of your site, I have seen and read countless comments deriding Alonso even after this weekend, many undeserved. Frankly I think your sites popularity has also drawn the attention of the riff raff from the PlanetF1s of this world. Alonso is often criticized by many commenters with the overly used “throwing toys out of the pram” line. In the interest of fairness, and also I want to hear your opinion on the recent Hamilton rant regarding Button unfollowing him on Twitter, and the apology an hour later. I’d just like to keep these zealous fans of propriety and child like behavior in the know… And let’s face it, it is hilarious.


I think it’s quite insulting to call readers of PF1 “riff raff”, and it smacks of a distasteful snobiness and a “we are better than you” attitude that i have sometimes encountered on this site. It’s a bit like readers of the FT and various broadsheets who look down on the proles who read the “redtops”.

Yes, different site’s do attract a certain demographic, but to label that demographic as “riff raff” hints that you somehow perceive yourself as better than them in some way – something which anyone would argue is highly subjective. These “riff raff” are still legitimate F1 fans – and no F1 fan is better than another.

And dare i say that James has sometimes legitimised this attitude by his usual response to some posters of “there are other sites where you can air those sort of views” (i paraphrase).

A true F1 fan would get his news from ANY site available, as they all slant the information various ways, and this give you a far more balanced view in my opinion. Of course, there would be prefeence, but F1 news is F1 news at the end of the day.

I am a regular visitor to dedicated sites/blogs like James’s site, Keith’s, PlanetF1, and also visit other sites like Autosport, Crashnet, Gpupdate, and even YallaF1. Peace.


Just to be clear when I said riff raff I wasn’t referring to all the readers at PF1. That would include me on occasion. I was referring to the particular group of readers that leave blatantly hateful comments. Additionally some sites slant their commentary often displaying a lack of objectivity, and James’ site certainly isn’t one of those. There is a difference and I can’t help but rate the latter as actual news. I wouldn’t compare a tabloid newspaper with a prize winning newspaper. My comment is simply that, I remember first reading James’ blog early on when I learnt not just from his posts but from his commenters posts. Now, with deserved popularity, there are still knowledgable comments, but a lot more comment noise.


I have said that there are other sites where people can air views which are spiteful and add nothing to the debate, those comments are not welcome here – but would never dismiss readers of such sites as riff raff or encourage that view

Just so we are clear, JA on F1 is a broad church, anyone is welcome as long as they respect that we just like intelligent and polite debate


For this race it has to be Vettel. Faultless from start to finish. He earns more and more on my eyes for the way he performs in a car that is far from being superior during the season. Just like Hamilton did in 2009.


I really can’t believe you tried to compare the RB8 to McLaren’s 2009 car!!! That 2009 McLaren was an absolute DOG for the first half of the year. LH was regularly qualifying and finishing in the teens.

By contrast the RB8 has, on average and over the whole of the season, still been the best car to be in.


DOTD has to be Kobayashi, and for good reason. Races like these that light up the entire circuit do not come by every week, and yesterday’s podium for Kobayashi draws parallel with Alonso’s victory in Valencia this year.

Of course, Massa was really on the ball all weekend and drove fantastically to claim 2nd, while Vettel’s drive is surely right at the very top of drives, pole-win-fastest lap is always treasured.

But to have the entire nation focusing on you the entire weekend and having to live up to so much hype and expectation, to soak that up is just fantastic. Many drivers often just can’t deal with that pressure – Webber in Melbourne, Vettel in Germany, Button at Silverstone just to name a few.

And that’s also why Kobayashi thoroughly deserves a drive next year, he drives with maturity (rarely retires due to driver error) and has great racecraft. It would be a huge loss for Sauber to let go of this one.


While Schumacher drove a good race, I think the so called Brain trust at Mercedes ie Haug, Costa, Willis, Brawn, and folks really need to take a hard look in the mirror. Having done a great job of completely changing the discussion from the quality of their work to the arrival of Hamilton, their car is utter rubbish. Is this a matter of times simply having passed them by or something else? Evidently, Schuey was not able to get them to produce the same kind of magic he did in ’96…. Of course, the team was minus Rory Byrne and Palo Martinelli. It is going to be a very long stint for Hamilton if Mercedes continues to produce Honda quality race cars that Button and others endured for far too many seasons.


Vettel creamed it. He was awesome all Saturday and Sunday. He seemed to be giving that Red Bull a fair bit of welly to me; setting fastest lap after fastest lap.

Also I think this was his 3rd Suzuka win in 4 attempts. He has a great car yes, but he is a master in qualifying, and apparently a master at Suzuka.


But you would have voted for Hamilton even though by your description they are mirror image personalities. Interesting.


It was great to see Kamui grab third, and to hear the crowd chanting his name. But my driver of the day has to be Felipe Massa.

He must be under enormous pressure, made worse by everyone from the fans to the media writing him off and openly talking about who will replace him. So with that in mind, his 2nd place finish was superb.


I voted Vettel but really its a three way tie between him, Massa and Kobayashi. All three drove absolutley brilliantly and Kamui’s podium is the first for Sauber that’s been scored from a good starting position and with equal strategy to the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus.


If anyone had told me I would vote for Massa two races in a row I would have asked them to take a drugs test, but here it is, after making his way back from a first lap puncture in singapore, this time he had a great drive on Sunday to make up for a rotten Saturday.

Honorable mention to Raikkonen for helping the championship get more exciting.


That’s probably why he’s staying at Ferrari, as it very much seems now.


Kamui for sure!! About time he got onto the podium! Hope he has secured his Sauber drive for next year!


I agree with Tim. Its Massa for me.

I usually try (grudgingly) to give Vettel DOTD when he does this green-light-to-chequered-thing.

Not today. Exactly who did Vettel outrace?

Massa hasn’t been on the podium for years.

KK never before.

Hamilton had a bodgy set-up.

Mark ‘rear-gunner’ Webber took one up the exhaust pipe again.

Jens was off the podium

Alonso was in the dirt

Simple fact is Vettel wasn’t challenged,

its Massa for me. Plus if he keeps it up, a return to form will have more impact on the championship.


Massa to come back from 11 to taken second and avoid the first lap incidents ( of which he was right in the thick of !) Im no Felipe fan and certainly Not Ferrari.. But he thoroughly deserves it. Great drive by Kobayashi and Ricciardo..


I think we need a new category.

Tweet of the day!

James, how about it?


Vettel driver of Japan 2012, Kimi driver of 2012.


why Isnt webber on there? He drove a brilliant race, being more then 60 seconds back at the restart, to finish in the points is incredible.


Gotta be Seb. I accept car advantage and all, but that was a dominant performance.


he recovery by Webber to get into the points after the stupid Frenchman took him out was magnificent


In many ways Hamilton did very well nursing a badly understeering car into fifth place whilst looking after the tyres as best he could. However I was pleased to see Massa back on the podium after such a drought, and I hope he retains his seat, and that there’s more to come. It’s very difficult to quantify, but recovering fully from the bump on the head he had both physically and mentally probably takes a lot longer than is readily apparent. Good luck to him!


really?? kimi must be superb by driving a car with damaged front wing and terrible rear end stability!! we both know mclaren is much better than lotus


While Kimi is a very good driver whose to quantify which was the worse to driver. Had Hamilton’s set up and balance been OK he would have qualified further up, and most probably would have been on the podium, but there’s nothing worse than a car that won’t turn in. Kimi’s car while damaged was still good enough to get as far as he did, otherwise he would have been much further back. That said Vettel’s Red Bull was unstoppable this weekend having made a good step forward.



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