Sebastian Vettel was victorious in Suzuka narrowing Fernando Alonso’s championship lead to just 4 points after a first lap crash led to his retirement from the race.
Vettel’s comfortable victory was overshadowed by two superb drives from Felipe Massa for second and Kamui Kobayashi for third. Massa’s result is the first time he has been on the podium since 2010, whilst cheered on by a home crowd Kobayashi secured his first ever podium in F1 by holding off McLaren’s Jenson Button. Both these drives came at the best time for the respective drivers as they both look to secure their F1 future.
The day did not end well for current championship leader Alonso as he found himself spinning into the gravel on lap one after his Ferrari touched wheels with Kimi Raikkonen. Mark Webber lost time on lap one when Kobayashi separated the Red Bull’s and then Romain Grosjean crashed into him in the second corner. Webber had to pit for checks to his car whilst Grosjean served a ten second penalty. Nico Rosberg also found himself having to retire on lap one after clashing with Bruno Senna.
Button took fourth ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in fifth after both survived the lap one crashes. Raikkonen finished sixth in the Lotus holding off Nico Hulkenberg who finished seventh in the Force India. Pastor Maldonado scored his first points for Williams since his Spanish Grand Prix win finishing eighth and Webber salvaged ninth and two points after his troubles on lap one. Daniel Ricciardo closed out the point scorers in tenth having held off Michael Schumacher in the closing stages.
Behind the top ten Schumacher finished 11th in a disappointing race for Mercedes, he was followed by Paul di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne and Senna.
Sergio Perez impressed in the early laps of the race but retired on lap 19 after a botched attempt at an overtake on Hamilton that led to him spinning into the gravel.
Vettel’s comfortable victory has helped him narrow down Alonso’s lead in the championship and gives him a great chance of winning a third consecutive championship with just five races left to run.
Despite Vettel’s victory the race was really about Massa and Kobayashi. Heading into this race both looked as though they may struggle to secure race seats for next season. However on the back of these impressive results they have most likely done more than enough to see themselves racing in 2013.