7th October, 15:00 local time saw the start of the refreshingly interesting 2012 Japanese Grand Prix. Definitely one of the most interesting races of this season of F1, the Suzuka circuit race saw a triumphant Vettel take the podium to his second consecutive victory, a first in this season of the Formula One races. Felipe Massa also rose to triumph and redeemed himself in the eyes of his fans with some extremely consistent and solid driving to take second place. Interestingly, this was his first podium since the Korean Grand Prix in 2010. That’s 35 races ago! What it means to Massa is anyone’s guess. Japan’s very own Kamui Kobayashi took to the podium as well in 3rd position much to the delight of the crowd.
Fernando Alonso spun out at the first corner due to contact with Kimi Raikkonen and was the first the retiree of the race. Felipe Massa winged it for Ferrari however with a second place victory improving his chances of staying with Ferrari for the next season. Alonso however now leads the driver championship with only 4 points having scored none in the Suzuka Circuit race. The runner up is Sebastian Vettel with 190 points giving his chances at the world title a massive boost.
McLaren too had a bad day with Button and Hamilton finishing fourth and fifth respectively. This coupled with Hamilton’s retirement in the Singapore Grand Prix surely casts a pall on his hopes at the world title.
Despite Vettel’s phenomenal pole-to-finish victory, it was Kobayashi that received the biggest cheer from the largely Japanese crowd. The Sauber driver managed 3rd position in the home race despite the immense pressure from fans. This victory was the best one in his career yet and was also the first time a Japanese took to the podium since Ahuri Suzuki in 1991.
As if the chaotic carnage at the start was not enough, Grosjean turned Webber of Red Bull around earning him a 10-second drive-through penalty which was probably not much of a consolation for Mark Webber.
Nico Rosberg too joined the retirees list after a collision with Bruno Senna before the end of Lap 1. The first corner carnage was divided into 2 separate incidents mainly involving Raikkonen who brushed Alonso’s rear tyres sending the Spaniard off the track with a punctured tyre and Grosjean who rammed into Webber’s rear.
Vettel and Kobayashi managed to escape the first corner pileup with fantastic starts from both the drivers earning Vettel his pole-to-finish victory and Kobayashi, his 3rd place victory which was also the best of his career. However the person who benefitted the most from the accidents was without a doubt, Jenson Button. The Britain skilfully managed to move up from the 8th position to the 3rd.
The craziest man of the race however was quite possibly Sergio Perez of Sauber, first pulling a risky move on Raikkonen and forcing him off the track at Lap 4. Taking it to the next level the Mexican then proceeded to employ the same move on Hamilton and locked tyres with him. Hamilton decided to do the sane thing and lets him move up to 6th. Interestingly Perez is set to replace Hamilton at McLaren and perhaps is a man with something to prove. At Lap 20 however Perez’s luck runs out and he spins off trying to pull a move on Hamilton again.
Perez however took the blow like a man and admitted his mistake. "I was going to overtake him [Hamilton] there. He moved a little bit late and there was no time for me to go the other side. I went round but locked my rear and spun. There was nothing I could do and I went into the gravel. Today was a very good position; I gave the team a good position and feel very sorry for them. It was my mistake and that is it."
Narain Karthikeyan of HRT retired yet again at Lap 34, the same as the Singapore Grand Prix. Michael Schumacher finished at 11th position despite trying hard. The big news surrounding the German was his confirmed retirement from the Formula One race scene after the end of this season. An emotional Schumacher reported during a press conference at the Suzuka Circuit; "Let me start with a little clarification and announcement today. Obviously it concerns about my future, probably not a complete surprise, I've decided to retire at the end of the year. Although I'm still able and capable to compete with the best drivers that are around but at some point it's good to say goodbye and that's what I'm doing at the end of the season - and it might this time even be forever!”
The 2012 Japanese Grand Prix podium was definitely a happy one as all three winners took turns hugging each other amidst a wildly cheering crowd. The words “Kamui, Kamui, Kamui” were easily recognisable in the din as the crowd cheered a waving Kobayashi.
And with that the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix is done. Next up is the 2012 Korean Grand Prix where CarDekho will as usual bring you a report on all the exiting happenings.