October 13, 2013

2013 Japanese GP Executive Summary

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

It could have been quite a different race.  For once it was not just Webber who had a bad start, both Red Bull got caught napping not only by  Grosjean who rocketed past Vettel on his left but Hamilton who had beaten the German off the line and looked set to slice on the inside of Webber.
But it all lasted maybe 200 meters.  Hamilton's right rear made contact with Vettel's front wing and was instantly punctured. Game over for Lewis,  no damage for Vettel.   It might have been a more interesting race with Red Bull having to manage from further down in the field.

As it was, it was another "strategic" race with Vettel's very disciplined driving taking full advantage of the preferred two stop strategy the team had him on.  No risks, only one on track pass under DRS on the first try when Grosjean was unable to fight back. Efficient but nobody liked his whining about backmarkers on the radio.  When you have an RB9 you probably should not be bleating for help from Charlie Whiting and claiming "it's not fair".   No wonder people boo.

Webber was either given the riskier three stopper or perhaps forced into it by chasing Grosjean too hard in the beginning and using the tires too quickly.

Photo: RenaultSport/LAT

Great race for Lotus and Grosjean, lightning start and good careful driving, getting the best out of the package.  Amazing this is a team in supposed financial trouble because they are now arguably the second fastest on the grid.

Another milestone for Renault who have now surpassed Ferrari in engine wins, not sure how they must feel at Viry-Châtillon about their man Remí Taffin who had to change out of his yellow Renault shirt and into a Red Bull one for the podium ceremony.

Alonso had make due with the distinction of being the highest ever career point scorer, topping Schumacher in a statistic made rather meaningless by the change in point assignments.  Many would gladly sign up for a race started in eight and finished fourth and Fernando did pass every car he could logically be expected to pass but, once again, pace was lacking (47 seconds behind Vettel in 53 laps) and luck did not go his way.    The championship is not mathematically over but with development now shifter to the 2014 car it effectively is, barring something unexpected.

Photo: Colombo/Ferrari

Another good race for Sauber with both Hulkenberg and Gutierrez in the points.  A good birthday present for Peter Sauber.

If Sauber had a good race, Mercedes had a lousy one, Hamilton had to retire and Rosberg was handed a drive though when the team released him into the path of Checo Perez.  He continued to clash with Perez on track and ended up behind both Saubers at the end.

Finally, may I point out the total dick move Maldonado put on his teammate Bottas in the final laps,  driving him off the track to beat him to sixteenth place.  Pathetic.

The Japanese Grand Prix                                         
Suzuka, Japan;                                                  
53 laps; 307.471km;                                             
Weather: Dry.                                                   
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                              


  1. Vettel drove a very good race in Japan this weekend. As much as ppl say it is because of the car, Mark has the same car other than he had a different rear wing setup and with fresher tires than Grosjean and he had DRS towards the end of the race, he was not able to make a move on Grosjean at the right time to chase after Vettel.

  2. oh man I've missed the Executive Summaries! Thanks for bringing it back!

  3. Agree 100%. Vettel perfect like the car. Good to see Romain on a good run of results (toldya he wasn't a crasher, just bad luck...).
    Lotus and RBR #2 had wrong strategy IMO. Or right for the team, if you consider Webber was used to push Romain and thus ensuring Vettel for the win (I'm not sure, wasn't paying 100% attention to the finer details, watching the race over lunch...).
    Lotus may even catch RBR next year, performance wise. But they will keep getting their butts kicked if they keep messing the tyre change timings (unless most Romain's were not mistakes but just deliberate leapfrogging Kimmi).
    Oh and yes. Madonado is an idiot. But that hardy surprises anyone anymore.
    Anyhow, any news on the RBR TC suspicions from Suzuka?

  4. The Maldonado move was incredibly stupid. That boy really needs removing from F1...

  5. It would be interesting to know when Webber was told about the three stopper, if it was planned or a response. As far as the TC, whatever it is, they are doing it within the scope of the letter of regulations. At least as far as anyone can tell anyway.

  6. Mixed feelings about TC (legal or not). F1 pinnacle of tech vs best drivers and no aids.

  7. Great review. Particularly liked the comment about Vettel whinging about back-markers.

  8. I used to respect Lewis, that is until I saw him "congradulate shake" Seb's hand after he wiped his privates.

    He deserved getting flatted by the winner's front wing before turn 1, DOOSH!

  9. Hamilton had last year's Alonso's start. Maldonado's was a dicky move indeed! Had he driven in the same years as Montoya, the Colombian's team radios would've been hilarious: What a f***ing idiot!

  10. RBR put Webber on the wrong tire strategy to avoid the 2 fighting for the win. Webber said afterwards that he was surprised that they did that.

  11. Been missing the Exec Sum -- thanks!

  12. Putting Webber on a 3 stop strategy was to avoid a fight with Vettel for the win. Even with the premature second stop, Webber had a big enough lead (17 seconds at 3rd stop?) to hold out until the end. Seb probably would have closed in by the last couple of laps at which point he would have struggled to get passed Webber. Taking Webber out of it prevented Seb from doing something risky to get past him. Can you imagine how much easier Horner's job would be if he didn't have to deal with driver's egos?


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