Tweet from @GvanderGarde: It's another nice day here at #SuzukaGP, and it's race day!!! Big push today and try to maximise ourself! The Japanese fans are amazing!
Lest we forget, Sebastian Vettel could wrap up the title here. He needs a win and for Alonso to finish lower than eighth. Fernando hasn't done himself any favours with that less than stellar qualifying position.
Pirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds this weekend - orange and white sidewalls respectively.
All drivers are starting on the medium hard tyre except for Daniel Ricciardo in 16th and Charles Pic in 20th.
The formation lap begins, with Mark Webber leading the pack away from the grid and round the really rather excellent Suzuka track.
Webber pulls to a halt as the pack lines up behind him. The Caterhams round the final corner and line up in their slots.
Sebastian Vettel's brakes were smoking heavily on the grid, and it's a bad start for the Red Bull, but he retains second place behind his teammate.
Yellow flags after an incident at the first corner.
Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi are off into the gravel after a first corner crash.
Lewis Hamilton was third briefly but is dropping back rapidly through the field.
Charles Pic does his drive through.
There's a right rear puncture for Lewis Hamilton as he crawls his way back round the field to the pit lane. He makes it for an early and unscheduled stop.
So Romain Grosjean is actually in the lead right now. Both Red Bull drivers got bad starts, bogged down and overtaken by the Lotus - who went all the way round the outside of Vettel and kept his foot in. Hamilton also got past them both but lost out again with the puncture.
It's Grosjean, Webber, Vettel, Rosberg and then Massa and Alonso.
Incident involving Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi will be investigated after the race - causing a collision.
DRS enabled... and immediately disabled.
On closer inspection, Sebastian Vettel's front wing punctured Lewis Hamilton's rear tyre at the start.
Nico Hülkenberg has managed to retain his seventh place off the grid at the moment, whilst teammate Esteban Gutiérrez has surged forward five places to move ninth, and into the points.
Team radio to Sebastian Vettel: "It's worth dropping back to save your tyres."
Fernando Alonso has caught up to his teammate, half a second behind at the moment, and ready to get past.
Team radio to Webber, who is also told to drop back: "If you can't pass Grosjean, drop back two seconds, we'll make it up nearer the pit stop."
Lewis Hamilton comes in to the pit lane again, and he's pushed back into the garage. Race over.
Alonso tries to close up down the home straight, but his DRS isn't a match for Massa's KERS, and the pair hold station for now.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button and Esteban Gutiérrez have both come in for their first stops of the day.
Nico Hülkenberg pits from seventh, as Di Resta comes in from eleventh.
The Red Bull mechanics scramble, as Mark Webber comes in for his stop, followed by Massa and Räikkönen. The latter two put on the harder compounds, I can't tell what Webber put on as he had a bit of thermocam action.
At the moment, Grosjean leads Vettel and Rosberg, with neither having stopped. For those who have come in once, we've got Webber, Hülkenberg and Massa.
Race leader Grosjean comes in from the front, as Vettel takes the lead. Now things feel a bit more familiar!
Grosjean exits the pit as Webber races down the home straight, but it's not even close as Romain comes out way ahead of the Red Bull.
Incident involving Nico Rosberg under investigation - unsafe release.
Sergio Pérez was coming in to the pit lane, and seemed to turn in a bit early, but the Mercedes of Rosberg was released side by side with the McLaren anyway.
Fernando Alonso has taken his first stop of the day, and returned to the track behind Massa again.
Sebastian Vettel finally pits, hard tyres on the Red Bull, and he returns to the track third - Grosjean and Webber ahead.
Replays show Pérez making the most of some momentum after his pit stop, and getting past his teammate for 11th place.
Drive through penalty for Nico Rosberg - unsafe release.
All the drivers have stopped once, except Daniel Ricciardo who is running up in fourth. He started on the harder tyres so has a longer first stint compared to those around him.
Rosberg comes in for his drive through penalty.
Team radio to Vettel: "You are minus three to Webber, so you can just sit there for a while." Just what you want to hear.
Ricciardo on old tyres is leading a train of four cars at the moment, fending off intense pressure from Hülkenberg behind.
Fernando Alonso has finally got past Massa, moving up to sixth and chasing Hülkenberg.
The Ricciardo train is up to five drivers now, as he's really holding everyone up. Hülkenberg finally makes a move and then two Ferraris close up to take the pass.
Massa kicks up some dust as he pulls alongside Gutiérrez, the pair running wide through a few corners. Massa is off track again for yet more dust, before finally making the place stick.
Daniel Ricciardo pits finally, having dropped from fourth all the way down to tenth. Vergne follows his teammate into the pit lane for a double stop strategy at Toro Rosso.
Rosberg overtakes Jenson Button, who is firmly stuck just outside the points.
Meanwhile, the first blue flags of the afternoon are waved to Charles Pic.
Tweet from @MyCaterhamF1: Giedo's back & reports that he was squeezed between BIA & CHI into T1 & had nowhere to go, losing his front wing in contact with BIA and off
Meanwhile, Jules watches on from inside the garage, via @Marussia_F1Team.
Mark Webber is closing in on Grosjean, the gap less than a second to the race leader now.
Jenson Button has come in for a pit stop, and it was delayed after the right rear tyre wouldn't come off. Nico Rosberg also comes in for a much cleaner stop.
Somehow, Jean-Éric Vergne sets the fastest lap of the race so far - 1:37.134. From 17th!
Webber gives up the chase on Grosjean and comes in to the pit lane for a good, clean stop.
There's a brilliant replay of slow-mo Webber rounding a corner, as in the background Seb locks up - a stream of smoke coming off the flat-spotted tyres.
Vettel is closing up on Grosjean now, having been released by Webber - who in turn has come out in third, and is on the pace immediately again.
Replays show Adrian Sutil being passed by a flying Daniel Ricciardo, who made the move on track but couldn't slow down and ran massively wide. He kept the place... for now.
Tweet from @F1onNBCSports: Grosjean is bidding to become the first French winner of a grand prix since Olivier Panis in 1996
Massa reports to the pit wall that his rears are starting to go away. And he dives straight into the pit lane.
A massive lockup for Grosjean, as he tries to soak up the pressure from behind.
Incident involving Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo under investigation - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
Grosjean returns to the track behind Webber, so he's lost the lead for now... unless Webber has to stop again.
We've got replays of Nico Hülkenberg locking up out on track, and then even more so going back into the pit lane.
Alonso pits from fourth place.
Gutiérrez and Pérez both come in from the midfield for their second stops of the afternoon.
Sergio Pérez had a problem on the right rear tyre during his pit stop, a delay for the McLaren driver.
Drive through penalty for Daniel Ricciardo - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.
|N Hülkenberg||vs.||F Alonso|
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: #Hulk stays ahead of ALO after pit stop. we are on fire!!! YES.
The way this weekend has been going, Sauber may want to avoid that turn of phrase!
Incident involving Felipe Massa under investigation - speeding in the pit lane. It's a drive through penalty for the Ferrari.
Daniel Ricciardo comes in for his drive through penalty, that's not helped his afternoon at all. He's rejoined in 13th place, behind Pérez and ahead of Di Resta.
Felipe Massa takes his drive through penalty, and rejoins the track in 11th - just outside the points but he still has time to work his way back into the top ten.
K Räikkönen sets the fastest lap so far, 1:35.516. He's currently running sixth, with Fernando Alonso ahead of him.
Interview with Lewis Hamilton: "Really unlucky, I just feel bad for my guys. They worked so hard this whole time we've been away. As a team, performance-wise, I think we deserved a lot better. I had probably the best start I've had all year, it was such a good feeling, the car felt really good. Really disappointing, but that's life."
Vettel finally comes in for his pit stop but didn't make enough of a gap to get past Romain Grosjean. The order remains Webber, Grosjean and Vettel, but the championship leader will be on a charge now, his team radio says: "Go get him."
Gutiérrez sweeps past Jean-Éric Vergne and he's up to ninth now. He could be on to score his first points of his F1 career here.
The gap between Vettel and Grosjean is shrinking rapidly.
Rosberg pits for the fourth time of the afternoon (one was a drive through).
Vettel pulls alongside but can't make it stick the first time. Down the home straight he makes the move again and it's an easy pass for second.
Vettel starts hunting down his teammate, then. Webber is going to have to stop again, so wants as much gap as possible, but he'll then be on fresher tyres than Vettel. Swings and roundabouts.
There he goes, Webber pits from the lead of the race, handing P1 to Vettel.
It wasn't the slickest stop we've seen at Red Bull, but was apparently a last minute call, so for a scrabbling stop, it was pretty good! Webber comes out behind Grosjean and the hunt is on again.
Max Chilton is doing a really good job against Charles Pic. There are just the two backmarkers left in the race, but Chilton is ahead by about five seconds.
Replays show Nico Rosberg attempted to pass Sergio Pérez and punctured the rear tyre on the McLaren. Impromptu pit stop for the McLaren team.
Pastor Maldonado had a bit of an off, kicking up some dust which looked good on the replay.
Close ups of Sebastian Vettel's tyres show a blister on the front left, the driver having a good old look around the corner. How does he do that?
If Vettel goes ahead and wins, he's not secured the championship yet, as Alonso is currently fifth. The Ferrari driver is stuck behind Nico Hülkenberg - for the second race in a row!
Alonso finally gets the jump on the Sauber he was following, and overtakes Hülkenberg for fourth place.
Webber has moved in on Grosjean, about half a second between the two now.
Adrian Sutil has done a good job from last on the grid to move up to twelfth. Ahead of him, Di Resta and Button are vying for the final points position. Di Resta has it at the moment.
Five laps to go, and Webber is faffing about behind Grosjean here. Even down the home straight, he can't even pull alongside.
We didn't see it, but Button has overtaken Paul di Resta for that tenth place and final point.
Webber pulls up to Grosjean but can't find any opening past. The pair are catching up to some traffic now.
On that last lap where Webber couldn't get past on the home straight, the Red Bull's DRS didn't open. Unlike Webber to have some bad luck.
Charles Pic has passed Max Chilton with just four laps to go. Disappointing for the Marussia crew.
Rosberg radio informs him they are critical on fuel.
It's Kimi Räikkönen stuck behind Nico Hülkenberg now, as the Lotus hasn't enough straight-line speed to capitalise.
Two laps to go and Webber FINALLY sweeps past the Lotus on the home straight. He made hard work of that!
Into the final chicane, Kimi somehow squeezes by Hülkenberg to take fifth.
Sebastian Vettel wins the Japanese Grand Prix!
Esteban Gutiérrez crosses the line seventh to pick up his first points in Formula One!
Button passed Massa on the line to sneak into ninth place. Meanwhile, Maldonado muscled past Bottas and pushed his teammate off track. All for 16th place.
Vettel climbs from the car, and sticks up that winning finger to the camera.
Tweet from @clubforce: We gave all we can and Paul and Adrian brought the car home in P11 and P14. Second stint really hurt us but not much we could do.
Conversation a little stilted in the green room. Webber gives the camera a friendly wave, but mostly ignores the others.
The drivers head on to the podium to the cheers from the crowd below, and then it's the national anthems.
The constructor's representative is Rémi Taffin of Renault. He wanted to wear his yellow Renault top, but they've made him put on a Red Bull shirt instead.
Final gap analysis. There's a further eleven seconds to Alonso in fourth.
Trophies and champagne, Webber takes a moment on the top step for a swig, and then jumps off. Grosjean gives a reasonably happy thumbs up, but he must be disappointed not to have got more.
Eddie Jordan arrives for the quotes, but Webber has disappeared!
Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "I would like to say thank you. Every time we come here, the appreciation, the respect we get from drivers is incredible. I'm blown away by this race. I had a poor start, right between Romain and Lewis, and I clipped the front wing, I think Lewis had a puncture after that. But after that, we were patient enough, looked after the tyres and had incredible pace towards the end. I'm so overwhelmed, every time we come here. Thank you again for the support."
Podium quotes - Mark Webber: "It's an amazing circuit. The race today was pretty good. Obviously I would like one more step on the podium, but there were different strategies going on. Seb went longer in the first stint. In general, pretty happy with second, but you always want a bit more. We got the best out of what I could today. Both of us had very, very poor starts which put us on the back foot a bit. After that it was trying to pace the car, make sure the tyres survive... in the end we went three stop... that put us back where we were."
Podium quotes - Romain Grosjean: "I'm much better than last year. What a start, terrific. From the past I don't have the best memories here. Today was a good race, the car was fantastic. On option tyres to start we did manage to pull away, then I think the Red Bull catch us a little bit, but generally we had to work with it, we are the only one to be able to follow those guys. Almost catch the bull, I said to my engineers today. But it's a home race for my engineer, I think he's very happy. Always good to come here, always very proud of the fans. Being on the podium at such a difficult track, it's good."
|G van der Garde||Accident||1|
|L Hamilton||Floor damage||8|
Sebastian Vettel took another victory in Japan, adding to his 2013 tally, but it wasn't an easy win by any stretch. Mark Webber missed out on strategy and because of Romain Grosjean, who in turn put in a great performance to remain in contention with the Red Bull pair to the end.
Further back, Sauber had another great finish, with BOTH drivers getting into the points. Force India at least got to the end of the race, but neither driver could get into the top ten.
It's unfortunate (for us, not for him) that Vettel took out one of his main race competitors at the start, although Rosberg's eighth shows the Mercedes is still lacking something.
Fernando Alonso's fourth place keeps the championship alive for another fortnight, but the title is up for grabs again in India, as Vettel pulls ahead to a ninety point lead.
The Indian Grand Prix is in two week's time, it could be the championship decider, and it's the last Indian race until 2015. So, I'll be back then, and I hope that you will join me!
All content in the series Japan 2013
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
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