6225329103_a62b45483e_bIn deze race van het seizoen heeft Button zijn derde overwinning van het jaar gescoord. Een race, die vorig seizoen gedomineerd werd door de Red Bulls.

Vettel had op zaterdag nog nipt voor Button de pole binnengehaald. En bij de start moest Vettel alle zeilen bijzetten om ook als eerste door de eerste bocht te gaan. Button werd hierbij op het gras gedreven. Protesten van McLaren mochten echter niet baten.

Hamilton profiteerde van de actie van Vettel en pakte de tweede plaats over van Button. Kort daarna hield Hamilton door een lekke achterband in en moest hij de pits opzoeken. Button nam hierdoor de tweede plaats weer over. Al snel volgden de stops van de andere coureurs.

Vettel had ondertussen een voorsprong opgebouwd, maar deze was niet zo overweldigend als hij eerder in het seizoen heeft laten zien. En ook zijn stop duurde langer dan die van Button.

Na de eerste serie stops was Alonso alweer opgeklommen naar de derde plaats, gevolgd door Hamilton en Massa.

Voor Buemi waren de gevolgen van zijn stop groot. Met een loszittend voorwiel moest hij zijn auto aan de kant zetten. Hij zou hiermee de enige uitvaller zijn.

In zijn tweede stint bleek Button een snellere auto te hebben dan Vettel. Met nog maar een kleine voorsprong dook Vettel voor de tweede maal de pits in. En ook deze stop duurde net iets langer dan gebruikelijk voor Red Bull. Nadat ook Button, een ronde later, naar binnen dook, was de voorsprong helemaal weg en keek Vettel tegen de achterkant van de McLaren van Button.

Dat Hamilton en Massa geen vrienden op de baan zijn is dit seizoen wel duidelijk geworden. En ook deze race was het weer raak. Strijdend om de vierde plaats was er net te weinig ruimte en dus raakten ze elkaar weer. Kleinere stukken vlogen in het rond.
Omdat er ook op een andere plek een touche was geweest besloot de wedstrijdleiding om de safety car uit te laten rukken, zodat de brokstukken opgeruimd konden worden.

Na de herstart bleef Button aan de leiding, gevolgd door Vettel en Alonso.

Ook de laatste stop van Vettel zou een tegenvaller worden. Eerst stopte Vettel voor de harde band en later Alonso. Voor Alonso was dit beetje extra op de zachte band genoeg om Vettel voorbij te gaan.

Vettel bleef in het vervolg van de race dicht achter Alonso hangen en ook het DRS-systeem was niet genoeg om de tweede plaats te heroveren.

Button won de race, gevolgd door Alonso en Vettel op de derde plaats. Voor Vettel was deze derde plaats ruim voldoende om zijn wereldtitel te prolongeren.

De strijd om de tweede plaats ligt nog helemaal open en gaat tussen Button (210 punten), Alonso (202 punten), Webber (194 punten) en Hamilton (178 punten)

Met 130 punten voorsprong, van Red Bull op McLaren, in het klassement om de constructeurstitel en nog 4 races te gaan is de strijd nog niet gestreden, maar ik zou mijn geld toch op Red Bull zetten.

Lotus Renault

Gestart van de 9e plaats heeft Senna dit niet kunnen verzilveren in de race. Mede door een slechte finishte hij slechts als 16e.

Petrov deed het beter. Gestart als 10e wist hij een plekje te winnen en 2 punten te scoren.

Lotus Renault staat nu 5e in de stand om de constructeurstitel.

Vitaly Petrov, P9

“We started on the medium (prime) tyre and I did all I could to maintain position at the start as those around me were on the soft (option). I suffered a lot of wheelspin, so with this tyre it was actually a pretty good start – if I was on the soft I would have gained places. During the race it was difficult to tell how the strategy was working and it was a challenge for the first two stints fighting against those on softer tyres. Ultimately, our target was to finish in front of Force India and this is what we achieved. When I put on the soft tyres towards the end of the race I felt so much grip; I smiled then I pushed a lot! Then I overtook I don’t know how many cars. It’s a pity Sergio (Perez) was just too far ahead. Now we go to Korea looking for another top ten finish.”

Bruno Senna, P16

“From my perspective, it was a disappointing race having started the race in such a promising position. Vitaly squeezed me a little bit in the second corner, which made it tricky for me to recover. For the rest of the race, I encountered lots of traffic problems and my tyres were degrading quite fast. Overall, I think we can learn from this weekend. Despite limited track time before qualifying yesterday, I managed to get into Q3 and we certainly looked stronger over the three days here than we did in Singapore. Hopefully I will be back in the points in Korea.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director

“First and foremost it was good to be back in the points. We had a different strategy to most of the teams and it worked reasonably well for Vitaly, but not so well for Bruno who struggled with a lot of traffic. Unfortunately the safety car did not help us either, but at least we have two more points to help us hold off the threat of Force India in the Constructors’ Championship. Finally, on behalf of the whole team I would like to offer my congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his second World Championship win.”

Team Lotus

Voor het eerst zijn Kovalainen en Trulli niet op een ronde achterstand, maar in dezelfde ronde als de winnaar gefinisht. Natuurlijk werden ze hierbij geholpen door de safety car, maar het blijft een goede prestatie.

Heikki Kovalainen, P18

“What a great race for the whole team! I made an incredible start, no wheelspin, the perfect clutch slip and was suddenly past a load of cars and up into 14th. It looked like everyone else went into reverse and I even heard one of the engineers laugh and accidentally telling someone else how brilliant the start was, and I thought ‘no! Don’t mention it now, I need to get on with the rest of the race!’ After that the first couple of stints were great. The car was working really well on the soft tyres and the stops were mega, and then the safety car came out and bunched everyone up so from there it was a race to the flag with Jarno and I stayed ahead until the last lap. The car has felt balanced all weekend so on the harder compound I was still able to push all afternoon, and even though I was held up a bit by the Virgins and the HRTs when they were being shown blue flags, I was still able to keep ahead of Jarno and as he’s always been quick here that feels pretty good.

“Also - the fact that this is the first time this season we didn’t see any blue flags is very satisfying. Every time you have to let someone pass you are artificially slowing up your own race, and it shows our car keeps improving, as does the whole team. Ok, the safety car helped us, but then you have to be in the right place to take advantage of whatever happens on track, and today we did just that. A great day.”

Jarno Trulli, P19

“For me that was a good day. It didn’t start too well – for once my start wasn’t perfect but once we got under way I was able to put in a few good passes and was making up ground. After a few laps it felt like I had a problem with the gearbox that slowed me down, but it came back and almost immediately the safety car came out and I was able to make up the gap to Heikki and we both had a good run to the end. For the whole team this is a pretty significant result. We completed every lap of the race, and while that might not seem all that important when there are guys winning championships up ahead, it still shows we keep on improving, and I’m really pleased for everyone, here at the track and back at the factory, that we can leave Japan on a high again and head to the next race in Korea.”

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer

“That was a really pleasing race weekend for the whole team. For the first time both cars finished on the lead lap and even though we were helped by the safety car our level of performance was still the best we have ever seen relative to cars around us. Both drivers pushed throughout the whole race, right up until the last lap and I think we managed to extract every ounce of performance we could from the cars. Heikki made an amazing start, by some way the best of the year and that made a three stop strategy the obvious choice, running the option for the first three stints, and that worked out pretty well. With Jarno we managed an issue he had in the first stint, and to see him pushing Heikki hard at the end of the race was exactly what we wanted from him and his team mate. They were also both helped by some tremendous pitstops from the guys in the garage so all in all this was a very professional job right across the board and I want to thank the whole team for the work they have put in here, and give my congratulations to everyone.”

Tony Fernandes, Team Principal

"Firstly I’d like to wish Sebastian and all our friends at Red Bull Racing huge congratulations for an incredible job this season. They still have a job to do, and I know from firsthand experience that they will not let up in their pursuit of the constructors’ title this year, and many more titles in the future. They set the standards that we must aspire to and I am very proud that we are part of their extended family and can keep being inspired by them as we grow to, one day, take the fight to them on track.

“For us, I know I keep saying it at every race but this really was the best race we have ever had. As soon as I came in this morning I had a feeling that everything in the team is beginning to come together as we had planned, and to finish on the same lap as the world champion is a huge step forward for us. The drivers both drove their hearts out today and the pitstops were excellent all afternoon. Our race pace was strong and we were bold with the strategies on both cars and that gave us the reward of not seeing a blue flag throughout the whole race. A great team effort.

“I think that this is a turning point for us. Suzuka is a quick circuit, not an easy place to take steps forward, so to have performed as well as we have done all weekend means I leave here absolutely thrilled, knowing our hard work is starting to pay off. The strategy that we have employed, of being patient and not rushing into the wrong decisions is paying dividends, and this is a clear sign that next year, and especially the year after, we are going to see more big steps forwards from our team.”

De volgende race is op 16 oktober Zuid-Korea

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