Sebastian Vettel became the first driver of 2012 to win 2 races in a row at today’s Japanese Grand Prix. Now just 4 points behind Fernando Alonso, Vettel is well on his way to clinching his 3rd WDC in a row.
After blowing a tire in turn 1 at the start of the race, Alsonso was forced to retire, scoring no points and quickly loosing sight of his lead in the WDC.
His teammate Felipe Massa had a stellar driver and finished 2nd, earning his first podium in 2 years. Today’s success was just the boost Massa needed and may have secured him another year at Ferrari.
To the delight of the Japanese fans, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi finished 3rd, his first podium in Formula 1. Similarly to Massa, Kobayashi is said to be fighting for his seat at Sauber next season. There’s no doubt today’s results have helped his standing with the team, especially with the looming departure of Sergio Perez.
The wounds of Lewis Hamilton’s departure are still fresh at McLaren. The team appeared out of sorts all weekend with both cars finishing 4th and 5th.
Hamilton made a comeback after starting 9th, but it wasn’t the type of driving we’ve seen from him or Jenson Button in the last 4 races. Button managed a great start and worked his way up to 3rd from 8th, but was unable to hold off Massa or keep up with Kobayashi in the closing laps. Reliability issues may still be affecting the team as Button complained of the gear box on separate occasions.
It was another tough weekend at Mercedes. After announcing his second retirement on Thursday, Michael Schumacher struggled and put the car in the wall during Friday practice. His teammate Nico Rosberg retired in turn 2 just after the start of the race. With a mediocre car and the strange hiring of Nikki Lauda as Mercedes’s Brackley “informant”, the team have a very long way to go. If history serves me correct, Ross Brawn has the tendency to follow his driver off the team. I wonder just how “good” the relationship is between Brawn and Mercedes. The Lauda hire makes no sense from a strategic perspective. One only needs to look at his time with Jaguar.
Lotus’s Romain Grosjean is the center of more controversy after making contact with Mark Webber in turn 2. He suffered a 10 second pit stop penalty, something I’ve not seen in all my time watching Formula 1. While there was plenty of chaos at the start of the race, it seems like Grosjean will never learn.
I hate to see Vettel win with such ease, especially after a clear advantage over the rest of the grid. It’ll be interesting to see how the remaining 5 races pan out. Ferrari and McLaren need to get their acts together if they have any hopes of retaining the WCC. Red Bull is on a mission.
The ever hilarious Grand Prix of Korea is next weekend. Hopefully they cleaned out the hospitality fridges from last year.
Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.