Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese GP in dominant fashion. And his performance could not have come at a more important time, Alonso crashed out, courtesy of the other Lotus, Raikkonen.
The race itself was not too interesting, frankly. There were first lap calamities, Alonso being one, Senna, Rosberg, Grosjean and Webber were also involved in separate incidents. Webber has called for another race ban from Grosjean and it is getting hard to argue. 7 first lap incidents in 14 races is just unacceptable. Even Maldonado’s record is better.
Beyond that, Hamilton made a great move on Raikkonen into turn one. Senna went around Grosjean on the outside of 130R.
The drama was really on the final podium that Vettel shared with Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi, two truly great stories in F1. This is Massa’s first podium in years and Kamui’s first ever. Both are really great guys who have always seemed to be on the bad end of the deal. Yes, Massa has really underperformed the past couple of years, but more and more there are signs his form has returned and the rumors have become just as strong that Ferrari will keep him.
Kobayashi, on the other hand, was brought into F1 as a replacement with the Toyota team back in 2009 for Brazil and Abu Dhabi. In both races he was massively impressive, both for his overtaking abilities (previously thought impossible in the Bridgestone era) and his defense of position from Kimi Raikkonen in Abu Dhabi.
Sauber picked him up after Toyota dropped out, but a lack of sheer pace meant that while he was always interesting on track, he wasn’t necessarily fighting for the top positions. When Sauber picked up Sergio Perez last year, it was immediately evident that Kobayashi was outclassed in pace. Ever since it has been Perez who has most frequently enjoyed Sauber’s up turn in form with multiple podiums this year while Kobayashi, despite starting from good positions, could never convert.
In Japan it all came together for Kobayashi and I applaud him for it.
Other than that, the storyline is really now firmly on the Driver’s Championship. Sebastian Vettel is now only four points behind Fernando Alonso and what seemed like Alonso’s party even after Singapore, it is now a real race. Technically Kimi Raikkonen is also in the championship race, but did himself no favors by only finishing 6th.
We can also expect that the next couple of weeks will see a lot of movement when it comes to the driver market. We will see.