Sebastian Vettel after winning the 2013 Formula One Japanese Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel has managed to win his fifth race in a row following this past weekend’s 2013 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix. That’s brought the German youngster closer towards his fourth consecutive Drivers’ Championship title but a strong performance from runner-up Fernando Alonso of Ferrari means the title decision must wait until a future race.
Vettel had his work cut out for him at the Japanese race, with his teammate Mark Webber and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean often taking the lead and looking like winners. Both the Red Bull drivers started at the front of the grid but a slow start meant they were quickly overtaken by Grosjean, who catapulted to the lead from fourth on the grid.
Towards the end of the race it would be Webber in the lead, followed by Vettel and Grosjean but on lap 42 Webber had to make a third stop, which put him in third place behind Vettel and Grosjean. In the closing stages, Webber’s pursuit of Grosjean provided all the excitement as they battled through backmarkers, with the Australian finally making the move past the Frenchman on the penultimate lap. He would eventually cross the finish line in second, with Grosjean taking the final podium place.
In fourth place it was Alonso, who once again ran a valiant race. The Spaniard started eighth on the grid but quickly moved to sixth behind his teammate Felipe Massa. On lap 20, he finally passed his teammate and then passed Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo to take fifth. On lap 46, Alonso got past Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg to go fourth, where he stayed to the chequered flag.
Fifth place went to Lotus’ driver Kimi Räikkönen while Hulkenberg clinched sixth place. Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez took seventh place while eighth and ninth places went to Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg and McLaren’s Jenson Button, respectively.
Unfortunately for Massa, a speeding ticket in the pit lane during his second stop cost him a drive-through penalty that saw him drop back to 11th. He would eventually finish 10th. Also suffering a setback this race was Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton who suffered a right-rear tire puncture after seven laps following contact with Sebastian Vettel on the run to turn one. The damage caused by the lap returning to the pits meant the team had to retire the car.
With his latest win, Sebastian Vettel’s points tally in the Drivers’ Championship now extends to 297 points. In second is Fernando Alonso with 207 points followed by Kimi Räikkönen in third with 177 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing sits on 445 points versus the 297 points of Ferrari and 287 points of Mercedes AMG.
The next stop on the 2013 Formula One calendar is the Indian Grand Prix which takes place in a fortnight. We’re likely to see the title fall as Vettel needs to finish just fifth or higher, regardless of Alonso’s position.