Japanese GP: Sebastian Vettel defeats Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean

Sebastian Vettel clinched his fifth consecutive Formula 1 victory as differing strategies produced a thrilling climax to a three-way fight for Japanese Grand Prix honours at Suzuka

Japanese GP: Sebastian Vettel defeats Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean

Polesitter Mark Webber passed Romain Grosjean late on to secure a Red Bull one-two, but fell seven seconds short of denying Vettel and securing what would have been a first victory of his farewell F1 campaign.

Fernando Alonso meanwhile finished fourth, ensuring that Vettel must wait until India at least to be crowned a four-time champion.

It was Grosjean's Lotus that captured the lead at the start, jumping from fourth into the lead as both Red Bulls got poor starts.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton also got the jump on the Red Bulls, but as he squeezed in between the two RB9s he and Vettel brushed, puncturing Hamilton's rear right and causing floor damage which would ultimately lead to his retirement after just nine laps.

In the background, Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collided at Turn 1, with the incident set to be reviewed after the race.

For the first half of the race Grosjean was able to maintain his advantage over Webber and Vettel, with the trio easing away from a chasing pack led by Nico Rosberg and the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

The group lost massive time through the first round of stops when Daniel Ricciardo, who started on the hard compound and ran a deep first stint, managed to jump into fourth and hold a string of quicker cars at bay for several laps.

It was Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg - who jumped the Ferraris through the first round of stops - who eventually managed to break Ricciardo's resistance, but by then the top three were 27 seconds down the road and out of touch.

That allowed Vettel, Grosjean and Webber to adopt wildly different strategies, with the latter opting for a three-stop plan in contrast to the two-stops of Vettel and Grosjean.

Webber therefore held track position heading into the final 10 laps, while Vettel was able to go far deeper than Grosjean in his middle stint, and therefore had much fresher tyres on which to close a two-second deficit to the Lotus man.

The crucial pass came on lap 41 when Vettel attacked at Casio and then dived down Grosjean's inside at Turn 1 for second.

With Webber pitting one lap later, Vettel duly hit the front and was able to cruise home to extend his winning streak.

That he did so owed much to Grosjean however, whose spirited defence kept Webber - now on the option tyre for a final 10-lap charge - at bay until the final laps, when Webber picked him off at Turn 1 to secure second.

Behind, Alonso executed a great pass around the outside of Hulkenberg heading into Turn 1 to clinch fourth and keep the title race technically open.

Kimi Raikkonen also picked off Hulkenberg's Sauber to seal fifth ahead of the German.

Esteban Gutierrez held on to deny Rosberg - hit by a drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit release - in a fight for seventh, while Jenson Button and Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10.

Massa also had to fight back from a drive-through for speeding in the pitlane, although his cause was also aided when Sergio Perez and Rosberg collided while fighting for 10th, sending the former to the pits with damage.

Paul di Resta beat Jean-Eric Vergne to 11th, while a third drive-through - this time for Ricciardo after he went off-track passing di Resta at 130R - meant the Australian was restricted to 13th ahead of Adrian Sutil, Perez and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS                           
                                                                
The Japanese Grand Prix                                         
Suzuka, Japan;                                                  
53 laps; 307.471km;                                             
Weather: Dry.                                                   
                                                                
Classified:                                                     
                                                                
Pos  Driver             Team                         Time  
 1.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault     1h26m49.301s           
 2.  Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault            +7.1s           
 3.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault               +9.9s           
 4.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari                    +45.6s           
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +47.3s           
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg    Sauber-Ferrari             +51.6s           
 7.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari           +1m11.6s           
 8.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes                 +1m12.0s           
 9.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes         +1m20.8s           
10.  Felipe Massa       Ferrari                  +1m29.2s           
11.  Paul di Resta      Force India-Mercedes     +1m38.5s           
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap           
13.  Daniel Ricciardo   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap           
14.  Adrian Sutil       Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap           
15.  Sergio Perez       McLaren-Mercedes           +1 lap           
16.  Pastor Maldonado   Williams-Renault           +1 lap           
17.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Renault           +1 lap           
18.  Charles Pic        Caterham-Renault           +1 lap           
19.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap           
                                                                
Fastest lap: Mark Webber, 1m34.587s            
                                                                
Not classified/retirements:                             
                                                                
Driver               Team                         On lap      
Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes                          9               
Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault                  1               
Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth                 1               
                                                                
World Championship standings, round 15:                 
                                                                
Drivers:                    Constructors:              
 1.  Vettel        297        1.  Red Bull-Renault          445 
 2.  Alonso        207        2.  Ferrari                   297 
 3.  Raikkonen     177        3.  Mercedes                  287 
 4.  Hamilton      161        4.  Lotus-Renault             264 
 5.  Webber        148        5.  McLaren-Mercedes           83 
 6.  Rosberg       126        6.  Force India-Mercedes       62 
 7.  Massa          90        7.  Sauber-Ferrari             45 
 8.  Grosjean       87        8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31 
 9.  Button         60        9.  Williams-Renault            1 
10.  Hulkenberg     39                                          
11.  Di Resta       36                                          
12.  Sutil          26                                          
13.  Perez          23                                          
14.  Ricciardo      18                                          
15.  Vergne         13                                          
16.  Gutierrez       6                                          
17.  Maldonado       1                                          
                                                                
All timing unofficial                                  
shares
comments
Tech blog: F1 teams striving for final gains
Previous article

Tech blog: F1 teams striving for final gains

Next article

Japanese GP: Mark Webber surprised Red Bull made him three-stop

Japanese GP: Mark Webber surprised Red Bull made him three-stop
Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull Plus

Why Mercedes believes it can make the step F1 needs to fight Red Bull

The 2022 Formula 1 season was Mercedes' leanest for a decade, achieving just a solitary pole and grand prix win. Yet the team is confident it has got the tools it needs to cast that disappointment aside and return to the front of the field again next year

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Plus

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Plus

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1

Formula 1
Dec 8, 2022
The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022