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Japan 2010 - Race highlights - The drama continues despite dry conditions at Suzuka

Published by Christine

Jaime leads a train of cars around Suzuka
Credit: Force India

Beautiful blue skies reigned over Suzuka today, and it was a completely dry race throughout. There was drama from the very start - before the start, even, as Lucas di Grassi failed to get to the grid. Four cars were out on the first lap, and only after the first ten laps or so did things begin to calm down.

There were plenty of potential and executed overtaking moves to keep an eye on, and even after quite a hectic few laps, the championship remains wide open. Red Bull are back to showing their dominance again, whilst McLaren are doing everything they can to hand the title to someone else.

Here's how the Japanese Grand Prix played out, lap by lap.

As it happened: 2010 Japan - The Race

  • 06:31


  • 06:31


  • 06:32

    It feels like we were just here a few hours ago.

  • 06:32

    TweetTweet from @MikeGascoyne: Hello from the pitwall, 5 mins to go to pit lane opening. Heikki just getting iinto his car, jarno a little delayed due to a leak on his car

  • 06:33

    The pitlane is open and the cars are streaming out now.

  • 06:34

    There was talk that Hamilton was being investigated for blocking a Williams during qualifying, but he has escaped penalty. For that. He's still got his five place drop for the gearbox.

  • 06:36

    CrashLucas di Grassi has had an absolutely huge crash on the formation lap.

  • 06:37

    We first spotted a tyre, now we see a wrecked Virgin car.

  • 06:37

    QuoteComment from Stuart Taylor: what the WHAT

  • 06:39

    Wrecked Virgin carWe're still not really sure what happened, but he's out of the car safe, and the crane is already in action.

  • 06:40

    Interview with Schumacher: "It would have been possible to go further forward, but we had a technical issue. Without the F-duct, which is better in other areas... We can't fix it, we have to deal with it. In a way, we were expecting to be too strong here."

  • 06:41

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Our forecast says no sign of rain over the track during the race. The hills close may get some but it should miss circuit

  • 06:42

    Coulthard on the gridwalk to some burly Mercedes mechanics blocking the back of the car: "You really think anyone would want to copy this??"

  • 06:43

    TweetTweet from @VirginRacing: We have no idea what happened there as we haven't heard from Lucas yet. But we will check timo's car and carry on as usual

  • 06:43



    Wind Speed5.7mps
  • 06:45
    Circuit Data
    Local Timezone+0900 GMT
    First Race1987
    Total Races21
    Number of Laps53
    Circuit Length5.807km
    Race Distance307.471km
  • 06:46

    Interview with Fernando Alonso: "First two positions, if nothing strange happen, normally should be for Red Bull. They're very strong this weekend. There is some concerns about the start, we did two starts now at the end of the pits with some strange results so we are looking at this."

  • 06:49

    View of the gridHulkenberg's view of the grid.

  • 06:51
    Race Wins
    1Mark Webber4
    2Fernando Alonso4
    3Lewis Hamilton3
    4Sebastian Vettel2
    5Jenson Button2
  • 06:52

    And we know how good Vettel is at converting his pole positions to wins... ehem... so who is your money on for today?

  • 06:53
    Pre-Race Championship Standings
    1Mark Webber
    2Fernando Alonso191
    3Lewis Hamilton182
    4Sebastian Vettel181
    5Jenson Button177
  • 06:56

    TweetTweet from @MyLotusRacing: 7 minutes to go. Fire up's done. Both drivers back on the grid. Tyres on. Radio checks - race and performance engineers. Countdown continues

  • 06:59

    Virgin still don't know what happened to di Grassi, and he says he doesn't know either. The car felt fine, it wasn't wet, and he wasn't going too fast. A mystery!

  • 07:01

    The cars head off on their lap to form the grid. No more crashes this time round.

  • 07:03 Lap 1

    Green flagThe Japanese Grand Prix is go, go, go!

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Petrov spins off into the wall instantly.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    SC BoardSafety car deployed.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Massa is also out in the gravel.

  • 07:05 Lap 1

    Hulkenberg is out as well.

  • 07:05 Lap 1


  • 07:05 Lap 1

    Liuzzi is also showing as being out but I haven't spotted his car yet.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Rosberg and Trulli, Glock and Senna all pit.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Kubica is up to second, with Webber behind him. Hamilton has improved to 6th, with Schumacher up to 8th.

  • 07:07 Lap 2

    Replays of the start. Incident 1. Petrov surged forward, swiped across the front of Hulk. Both of them out.

  • 07:07 Lap 2

    Incident 2. Massa got the corner completely wrong, bounced over the kerb and lost control.

  • 07:08 Lap 2

    Massa took out Liuzzi in the process.

  • 07:09 Lap 2

    It seems far too early for one of these, but what the hey.

    Nico HulkenbergAccident1
    Felipe MassaAccident1
    Vitaly PetrovAccident1
    Tonio Liuzzi
    Lucas di GrassiAccident0
  • 07:10 Lap 3

    Vettel is reminded on the radio of the safety car rules. At first it sounds patronising, but then it sounded like Seb was grateful for the information.

  • 07:10 Lap 3

    Kubica has pulled off track. Retiring from second place. Bad day for Renault.

  • 07:12 Lap 3
    Driver Positions
    10Sebastian Vettel
    20Mark Webber
    Fernando Alonso
    4+1Jenson Button
    5+3Lewis Hamilton
  • 07:13 Lap 4

    Kubica's wheel just came right off, hence his retirement.

  • 07:14 Lap 5

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: "The Safety Car lights are still off." Pit replied that the safety car lights are on and it should be going one more lap.

  • 07:14 Lap 5

    TweetTweet from @ManipeF1: That's pretty gutting for KUB. He would surely have finished on the podium given the pace of the Renault this weekend.

  • 07:17 Lap 6

    Both McLaren drivers have a slight problem with their brakes being too hot. They'll be hoping the Safety Car comes in soon.

  • 07:18 Lap 6

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: Yamamoto has made a good start at home, passing Glock, Senna and Trulli on his way to 15th place.

  • 07:18 Lap 7

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 07:19 Lap 7

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Tonio says he was hit by massa in first corner. He had had a good start but then massa came out of nowhere and tonio was just a passenger

  • 07:19 Lap 7

    The restart is clean, Vettel starts pulling out an instant lead.

  • 07:20 Lap 7

    The Mercedes pair on a charge - Rosberg passed Buemi, running a bit wide but keeping it under control. Schumacher passed Rubens for 6th place.

  • 07:21 Lap 8

    Report from Holly Samos on 5live: Massa says Rosberg pushed him across and that's why he ended up crashing out of the race. Kubica's in the paddock but has not yet taken his helmet off.

  • 07:24 Lap 10

    Interview with Kubica: "We managed good start, gained one position, in the second lap I was behind the safety car warming up the tyres, I nearly lost the car. Apparently, the wheel, I don't know if there was a technical problem. I moved to the side and lost the wheel."

  • 07:24 Lap 10

    He must have taken his helmet off then.

  • 07:26 Lap 10
    One to Watch
    Jenson Buttonvs.Lewis Hamilton
  • 07:27 Lap 12

    A moment of calm. Everyone has crashed out who is going to crash out for now, whilst the Red Bulls scamper away at the front.

  • 07:29 Lap 13

    Interview with Hulkenberg: "I had an incredibly bad start, didn't get off the line at all, a lot of wheelspin. I just saw a yellow arrow crashing into my front, and that was Petrov obviously. Very unfortunate for us. You never want to finish a Grand Prix that early but... today happened."

  • 07:31 Lap 14

    Kobayashi barges his way past Alguersuari for 11th.

  • 07:31 Lap 14

    TweetTweet from SauberRG: Why is everyone saying Yamamoto made a great start. Its only because Trulli, Glock and Senna have made a pitstop

  • 07:33 Lap 16

    Trulli has passed Yamamoto for 15th.

  • 07:36 Lap 18

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: This pace looks not bad compared to McLaren

  • 07:37 Lap 18
    Recent Lap Times
    Sebastian Vettel
    Lap 141:37.094
    Lap 15
    Lap 161:36.789
    Lap 17
  • 07:38 Lap 19

    Kobayashi passes Sutil in a superb move. Sutil tries to get the position back around the outside but decides against it.

  • 07:38 Lap 19

    Heidfeld and Sutil both pit.

  • 07:39 Lap 19

    The stewards are going to look at the incident between Hulkenberg and Petrov after the race. Both are out of the race, so no rush for that decision.

  • 07:39 Lap 19

    Stewards also going to look at Massa and Liuzzi as well. Wurz is on the case!

  • 07:40 Lap 20

    Vettel posts the fastest lap of the race so far - 1:36.545.

  • 07:41 Lap 21

    Glock is battling to try and pass Yamamoto for 16th place, but for now the HRT is staying ahead, playing a good defensive game.

  • 07:41 Lap 21

    Barrichello pits.

  • 07:43 Lap 22
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverRubens Barrichello
    TeamAT&T Williams
    Pit Lane23.546s
  • 07:44 Lap 23

    Hamilton pits on lap 23. He pitted from 5th. Where will he come out?

  • 07:45 Lap 23

    Lewis rejoins the track in 7th place, behind Kobayashi.

  • 07:46 Lap 24

    Schumacher pits.

  • 07:47 Lap 24

    MIchael rejoins in 9th, behind Rosberg, who has already pitted.

  • 07:47 Lap 24

    Alonso has lost about a second on this lap alone due to traffic, and he decides to pit. Vettel also stops.

  • 07:48 Lap 24

    Lewis passes Kobayashi down the straight.

  • 07:49 Lap 26
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverSebastian Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Pit Lane21.900s
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverFernando Alonso
    Pit Lane21.705s

    Fernando won that battle, quicker throughout, but still remains behind Vettel out on track.

  • 07:50 Lap 26

    Webber has pitted and returns to the track behind Vettel.

  • 07:50 Lap 26

    Button is leading, but he has not stopped yet. His different strategy is coming in to play.

  • 07:52 Lap 27

    Schumacher attempted a pass on his teammate Rosberg, but Nico was having none of it.

  • 07:52 Lap 28

    RadioTeam radio to Hamilton: "You are comfortable the fastest car on the circuit." Hence Lewis posting the fastest lap - 1:35.563.

  • 07:53 Lap 28

    RadioTeam radio to Schumacher: "There's no team orders but Nico knows to be sensible if you make a move."

  • 07:54 Lap 29

    QuoteComment from RG: "No team orders" = "Team orders"

  • 07:56 Lap 30

    We know what the top five is, because it is always the same drivers so here is an update for the rest of the points.

    Driver Positions
    6+8Kamui Kobayashi
    7+11Sebastien Buemi
    Nico Rosberg
    9+1Michael Schumacher
    10+1Nick Heidfeld
  • 07:59 Lap 31

    Two Mercedes carsSchumacher continues to chase down Rosberg.

  • 07:59 Lap 32

    Buemi ruins the table by pitting from 7th place.

  • 08:01 Lap 33

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: Hamilton is fading from the chase of Alonso, but still looks on course to beat Button to fourth when the leader stops.

  • 08:02 Lap 33

    Yamamoto pits.

  • 08:02 Lap 34
    Recent Lap Times
    Jenson Button
    Lap 29
    Lap 30
    Lap 311:36.730
    Lap 32
  • 08:05 Lap 35
    One to Watch
    Adrian Sutilvs.Jaime Alguersuari
  • 08:07 Lap 37

    Hamilton's car spews brake dust as he approaches a corner. They were complaining of overheating brakes under the safety car as well.

  • 08:09 Lap 38

    From Holly Samos: Barrichello is reporting vibrations on the car.

  • 08:10 Lap 38

    TweetTweet from @LucasdiGrassi: Really appreciated all the msgs. I'm feeling fine, ready for next one. We will overcome any problems and come back stronger. Watch us.

  • 08:10 Lap 39

    Button pits.

  • 08:11 Lap 39

    Hamilton has lost a lot of time - does he have a problem?

  • 08:11 Lap 39

    Kobayashi also pits, and returns to the track in 12th position just in front of a Toro Rosso.

  • 08:12 Lap 40

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: I have lost third gear.

  • 08:13 Lap 40

    Third gear is pretty crucial. A new gearbox as well!!

  • 08:15 Lap 41
    Live Championship Standings
    1Mark Webber
    2Sebastian Vettel206
    3Fernando Alonso206
    4Lewis Hamilton194
    5Jenson Button187
  • 08:16 Lap 42

    Schumacher is still stuck behind Rosberg. I'd forgotten about them.

  • 08:17 Lap 43

    Kobayashi actually came out of his pit stop both in front of a Toro Rosso and behind one - he's now trying to overtake Alguersuari.

  • 08:18 Lap 44
    Lapped Cars
    PosDriverLaps Down
    14Heikki Kovalainen1
    15Jarno Trulli1
    16Timo Glock2
    17Bruno Senna2
    18Sakon Yamamoto2
  • 08:19 Lap 44

    Button closes up behind Hamilton, will Lewis have to let him past?

  • 08:20 Lap 45

    It happens, Button is now up in to 4th. As Ant Davidson said: "It's all about damage limitation for Hamilton now."

  • 08:20 Lap 45

    Kobayashi passes Alguersuari, the two touch but continue onwards.

  • 08:21 Lap 45

    Smoke pours from the back of Sutil's car, but he manages to make it back to the pitlane. Lots of oil out on track, no doubt.

  • 08:21 Lap 45

    Alguersuari pits as well, rounding the Force India to hurry to his box.

  • 08:22 Lap 45

    Kobayashi looks to have a little bit of damage as well, but he doesn't need to stop for now.

  • 08:23 Lap 47

    Button sets the fastest lap of the race - 1:33.889.

  • 08:26 Lap 49

    CrashNico Rosberg crashes off, rear left wheel failed and he's in the barriers.

  • 08:27 Lap 49

    Nico climbs from the car, and gingerly navigates the tyre barrier. He seems fine. Yellow flags for now.

  • 08:27 Lap 49

    Kobayashi passed Barrichello and is now tucked up behind his teammate Heidfeld. One attempt is foiled down the home straight, and then they're into the yellow flag section.

  • 08:28 Lap 50

    He's done it!!

  • 08:30 Lap 51
    Battle For 1st
  • 08:31 Lap 52

    Two laps to go. It doesn't look like the Red Bulls are either fighting each other, or in real trouble from anyone else. Alonso is there but not pushing too hard.

  • 08:32 Lap 52

    Kobayashi has about six seconds to make up on Schumacher if he wants to continue his charge. You might say it's Kubica-esque.

  • 08:32 Lap 52

    Notably, Kovalainen is up to 12th position. So close to the points!

  • 08:34 Lap 53

    Chequered flagSebastian Vettel wins the Japanese Grand Prix!

  • 08:35
    Race Winner
    DriverSebastian Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Race Time1:30.27.323
    Race Distance307.471km
    Average Speed203.948km/h
  • 08:35

    Fastest lap of the race from Mark Webber: 1:33.474.

  • 08:38

    Here are the points finishers, with added arrow goodness (from their grid position).

    Driver Positions
    10Sebastian Vettel
    20Mark Webber
    Fernando Alonso
    4+1Jenson Button
    5+3Lewis Hamilton
    6+4Michael Schumacher
    7+7Kamui Kobayashi
    8+3Nick Heidfeld
    9-2Rubens Barrichello
    Sebastien Buemi
  • 08:40

    These guys did not make it to the end. Some of them didn't even make it to the start.

    Nico RosbergAccident49
    Adrian Sutil
    Robert KubicaMechanical3
    Nico Hulkenberg
    Felipe MassaAccident1
    Vitaly PetrovAccident1
    Tonio LiuzziAccident1
    Lucas di GrassiAccident0
  • 08:42
    Fastest Laps
    Mark Webber
    Sebastian Vettel
    Jenson Button
  • 08:45

    Smiling VettelGoodness me, that is quite the smile from Vettel on the podium. Haven't seen that for a while.

  • 08:48

    TweetTweet from @tabathavalls: By the way, this is both @BSenna (P15) and @SakonYamamoto (P16) 's best result this season in an #F1 race

  • 08:50

    Interview with Hamilton: "Bit disappointing for myself and my team, we worked very hard as always. We're doing everything we can to score points. This weekend, my big mistake on Friday, the gearbox change, then the gearbox broke during the race, so I lost ground to Jenson. I'm just happy I saw the end of the race, it's my first finish for a long time."

  • 08:52

    TweetTweet from @tonyfernandes: Absilutlry awesome result. Wow. What a race. 12th and 13th. Great pace. Great result. Our best. Really really happy.

  • 08:52

    I challenge you all to get absilutlry into a sentence today.

  • 08:54

    QuoteComment from Lukeh: I'm absilutlry knackered.

    Nice work!

  • 08:55

    That should just about be the Japanese GP done and dusted. It wasn't a spectacular race, a couple of good overtaking moves, but most of the excitement on the first lap with four cars out before it even started.

  • 08:56

    Kobayashi had a stunning race, ploughing through the field. Sometimes it was a bit ragged, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who winced at some of the moves, but 7th place is a job well done.

  • 08:57

    The new teams had a lot of "best ever finishes" today, thanks to so many retirements, but even so, Kovalainen ended the race 12th - so very close to those points.

  • 08:58

    Renault had a really fast car, but Petrov didn't have a chance to do anything, and Kubica's second place was robbed from him by a faulty wheel. Meanwhile, Williams appeared to have pace earlier in the weekend, but it came to very little in the race.

  • 08:59

    Shocking performance from Di Grassi. No one is saying what the problem is, but for a driver who is trying to cling on to his seat, not even getting to the start is a one-way ticket to the job centre.

  • 09:02

    The championship still remains wide open, with Vettel notably jumping Hamilton for third place, and Webber extending his lead by a couple of points. All five are still in with a shot for the title, but the two McLaren drivers are slipping further and further back.

  • 09:04

    Thanks for joining me (twice!) today. Stay tuned to Sidepodcast for more results, standings and general coverage. We'll be back, maybe, for Korea, if it happens.

  • 09:04

    I don't know about anyone else, but I'm going back to bed.

All content in the series Japan 2010