Team-by-team look at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel took another victory on his way claiming a fourth drivers title. The race had been led by both Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber but Vettel’s strategy allowed him to jump both. Elsewhere Sauber took their first double points finish of the season with Hulkenberg sixth and Esteban Gutierrez seventh. The Mexican became the first rookie to score points this season. Fernando Alonso’s fifth place finish keeps him in contention for the drivers title.

Red Bull
IMG_2875Sebastian Vettel finished on the top spot of the podium for the ninth time this season. The German lost out to Grosjean at the start to be third on the first lap. In the end it was strategy which helped him to the win with Grosjean and Webber having also led the race at different points. The two stop strategy was the winning combination with Grosjean and a three stopping Webber stuck in traffic. Webber started on pole but lost out to Grosjean who led from lap one. The Australian later regained the lead but was on a three stop strategy. After his third stop he was behind Grosjean and managed to catch him but could only pass him with a few laps left to run. It was too late to catch Vettel and challenge for the win. The double podium moves the team a step closer to the constructors title.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean had looked set to take his first F1 win showing Lotus he is more than ready to lead the team next season. Third place looked inevitable with the speed of the Red Bulls but the Frenchman had managed to jump both at the start to lead the race. Like Vettel he was two stopping but Vettel managed to get the better of him. Grosjean ened third after Webber passed him on the penultimate lap. Kimi Raikkonen had started ninth but by the end of the race he was in fifth. The Finn charged through the field and eventually got passed Nico Hulkenberg to chase Fernando Alonso. Although he was catching the Spaniard late in the race there were not enough laps for him to catch and pass.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso finished in fourth after a close battle with Hulkenberg and Raikkonen. Alonso was behind his teammate at the start and could not find a way past. At the first set of pitstops both Alonso and Massa had been jumped by Hulkenberg. This remained until after the second pitstop. Hulkenberg was still ahead but Alonso bided his time catching the Sauber as passing near the end of the race. Felipe Massa eventually held on for tenth place after having a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and a close battle with Jenson Button on the line. The Briton got ahead for ninth right on the line after they had clashed at the previous chicane. Alonso can still mathematically win the championship but seems to have given up on his chances.

Sauber
Sauber had a double points finish for the first time this season. Hulkenberg finished a strong sixth whilst Esteban Gutierrez claimed the first points of his F1 career with seventh holding off Nico Rosberg to the line. Hulkenberg jumped the Ferrari’s at the first round of pitstops and attempted to hold off Alonso and Raikkonen but was eventually passed by them both. Eight points were well earned alongside Gutierrez’s six. The Mexican produced the good result keeping a faster car behind him and becoming the first rookie to score points this season. The double points finish moves the team further ahead of Toro Rosso in the constructors championship.

Mercedes
It was a day to forget for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton attempted to get between the slow starting Red Bulls but had his tyre punctured after hitting Vettel’s front wing. He made it back to the pits but his car was damaged enough to have to be retired after just nine laps. Nico Rosberg also had a difficult day he had been running higher up in the top ten before being given a drive through penalty for an unsafe pit release. This dropped the German driver back and he was unable to pass the impressive Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. He finished the day in eighth taking hime four points.

McLaren
McLaren came away with two points in what proved to be an interesting and battle-filled race for the team. Jenson Button struggled with his tyres throughout the race having to make three stops. He was ovetaken by Massa on the last lap but managed to get ahead of him in the drag to the line to finish ninth with two points. Sergio Perez also had to make three stops – however one was unscheduled after he suffered a puncture after a collision with Nico Rosberg and could only manage to finish in 15th.

Force India
Force India continued with their slump in form with Paul di Resta finishing in 11th and Adrian Sutil in 14th. Di Resta had been fighting for the final point among the other midfield drivers but could not keep up and finished ten seconds down on tenth place finisher Massa. Sutil didn’t have a much better day. Having started last he went straight through the middle of the backmarkers at the start to avoid the Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collision at the start. Another race with no points means Sauber moves ever closer to passing them in the constructors title.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne finished 12th whilst teammate Daniel Ricciardo was 13th. The Australian gambled by starting on the harder compound tyre and ran a long first stint. After his pitstop he made a charge through the field but went off the track passing a Force India. This gave him a drive through penalty which pushed him back down the grid. He had been in the lower points but was unable to get back finishing behind his teammate.

Williams
The two Williams drivers were fighting it out among themselves throughout the race as they failed to make the points once again. Pastor Maldonado had been in the points at one point but fell back to finish 16th just a few lengths ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas in 17th.

Caterham
Caterham finished ahead of Marussia once again as Charles Pic beat Max Chilton to the line. Pic had avoided the incident which his teammate Giedo van der Garde got caught in to finish 18th. Van der Garde was involved in a first lap incident with the Marussia of Jules Bianchi as both ended their day in the gravel.

Marussia
Max Chilton finished behind Caterham rival Charles Pic as they continue in their battle for backmarker supremacy. Chilton was 19th. Teammate Jules Bianchi ended his day in the gravel on the first lap after a collision with the Caterham of Van der Garde.

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