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Race highlights - Japan 2013 - Red Bull take a 1-2, as Lewis Hamilton retires early on

Published by Christine

McLaren mechanic pitlane Suzuka
Credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

The Red Bull team took their first 1-2 of the season since the debacle that was the Malaysian Grand Prix, but it wasn't an easy win for the still-dominant Sebastian Vettel. Not starting from pole, he had a fight on his hands with his teammate and the surprisingly fast Romain Grosjean.

Throughout the field there were some great battles going on, as Daniel Ricciardo bunched up the pack on a different strategy to him, and then some inter-team rivalries played out in front of our very eyes.

If you missed any of the action, or want to relive the highlights of the Japanese Grand Prix, then the Factbyte Factbox has got you covered.

As it happened: Japan 2013 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Sebastian Vettel wins after beating Grosjean and Webber on strategy.
  • Romain leads the race but drops back to still finish on the podium.
  • Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi collide on lap one and retire.
  • Lewis Hamilton ends his race after a puncture caused by Vettel on the first lap.
  • Sauber secure a double points finish, with Gutiérrez picking up his first points.
  • There are drive through penalties for Ricciardo, Massa and Rosberg.
  • 06:46

    Hello fact fans, how have you been? It's almost time for the Japanese Grand Prix, and I'm here to guide you through every single lap.

  • 06:47

    It's a little bit early in the UK, and I've not been well, so excuse any nonsensical babbling. Let's get started!

  • 06:48
    Circuit Data
    Suzuka Circuit
    Local timezone+09:00 GMT
    First race1987
    Number of laps53
    Circuit length5.807km
    Race distance307.471km
    Start offset0.300km
  • 06:48

    Mark Webber made us all sit up and take notice yesterday by snatching pole position from his teammate. For a change, it was Vettel with the KERS issue on Saturday.

  • 06:49

    Of course, Webber doesn't necessarily have the best race-starting procedure in history, but he's determined NOT to help Vettel in the championship in any way possible. So it could be interesting.

  • 06:49

    Three drivers have penalties - both Charles Pic and Jules Bianchi have ten place grid drops due to picking up their third reprimands. Adrian Sutil got a five place drop for a gearbox change, putting him dead last.

  • 06:50

    Pic also got into trouble during qualifying, but because he already had a grid drop, the stewards have given him a drive through - before the race has even begun! He needs to serve it within the first five laps.

  • 06:51
    Starting grid
    1M WebberRed Bull
    2S VettelRed Bull
    3L HamiltonMercedes
    4R GrosjeanLotus
    5F MassaFerrari
    6N RosbergMercedes
    7N HülkenbergSauber
    8F AlonsoFerrari
    9K RäikkönenLotus
    10J ButtonMcLaren
  • 06:53

    TweetTweet 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!

  • 06:56

    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.

  • 06:58

    Hard and mediumPirelli have brought the hard and medium compounds this weekend - orange and white sidewalls respectively.

  • 06:59



    Wind speed5mps
  • 07:00

    All drivers are starting on the medium hard tyre except for Daniel Ricciardo in 16th and Charles Pic in 20th.

  • 07:00

    The formation lap begins, with Mark Webber leading the pack away from the grid and round the really rather excellent Suzuka track.

  • 07:03

    Webber pulls to a halt as the pack lines up behind him. The Caterhams round the final corner and line up in their slots.

  • 07:03

    Green flagRace started.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    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.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Yellow flagYellow flags after an incident at the first corner.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi are off into the gravel after a first corner crash.

  • 07:05 Lap 1

    Lewis Hamilton was third briefly but is dropping back rapidly through the field.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Charles Pic does his drive through.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    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.

  • 07:07 Lap 3

    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.

  • 07:07 Lap 3

    It's Grosjean, Webber, Vettel, Rosberg and then Massa and Alonso.

  • 07:08 Lap 3

    Race controlIncident involving Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi will be investigated after the race - causing a collision.

  • 07:09 Lap 4

    Race controlDRS enabled... and immediately disabled.

  • 07:10 Lap 4

    On closer inspection, Sebastian Vettel's front wing punctured Lewis Hamilton's rear tyre at the start.

  • 07:11 Lap 5
    Inter-Team Battle
    R Grosjean1st
    K Räikkönen11th
  • 07:13 Lap 6

    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.

  • 07:13 Lap 7

    Team radioTeam radio to Sebastian Vettel: "It's worth dropping back to save your tyres."

  • 07:15 Lap 8

    Fernando Alonso has caught up to his teammate, half a second behind at the moment, and ready to get past.

  • 07:15 Lap 8

    Team radioTeam 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."

  • 07:16 Lap 8
    Driver Positions
    13R Grosjean
    2-1M Webber
    3-1S Vettel
    42N Rosberg
    50F Massa
    62F Alonso
    70N Hülkenberg
    83S Pérez
    95E Gutiérrez
    10-1K Räikkönen
  • 07:17 Lap 9

    Lewis Hamilton comes in to the pit lane again, and he's pushed back into the garage. Race over.

  • 07:19 Lap 10

    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.

  • 07:20 Lap 10

    Meanwhile, Jenson Button and Esteban Gutiérrez have both come in for their first stops of the day.

  • 07:20 Lap 11

    Nico Hülkenberg pits from seventh, as Di Resta comes in from eleventh.

  • 07:22 Lap 12

    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.

  • 07:23 Lap 13

    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.

  • 07:24 Lap 13

    Race leader Grosjean comes in from the front, as Vettel takes the lead. Now things feel a bit more familiar!

  • 07:24 Lap 13

    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.

  • 07:25 Lap 13
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverR Grosjean
    Pit lane23.282s
  • 07:25 Lap 13

    Race controlIncident involving Nico Rosberg under investigation - unsafe release.

  • 07:26 Lap 14

    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.

  • 07:26 Lap 14

    Fernando Alonso has taken his first stop of the day, and returned to the track behind Massa again.

  • 07:27 Lap 15

    Sebastian Vettel finally pits, hard tyres on the Red Bull, and he returns to the track third - Grosjean and Webber ahead.

  • 07:28 Lap 15

    Replays show Pérez making the most of some momentum after his pit stop, and getting past his teammate for 11th place.

  • 07:28 Lap 15

    Race controlDrive through penalty for Nico Rosberg - unsafe release.

  • 07:29 Lap 16

    TweetTweet from @Lotus_F1Team: As Seb locks up, @RGrosjean sets ANOTHER fastest lap. Pressure? What pressure?!

  • 07:30 Lap 16

    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.

  • 07:31 Lap 17

    Rosberg comes in for his drive through penalty.

  • 07:32 Lap 18

    Team radioTeam radio to Vettel: "You are minus three to Webber, so you can just sit there for a while." Just what you want to hear.

  • 07:33 Lap 19
    Driver Analysis
    DriverN Hülkenberg
    Last lap1:38.900
    Best lap1:38.109
  • 07:35 Lap 20

    Ricciardo on old tyres is leading a train of four cars at the moment, fending off intense pressure from Hülkenberg behind.

  • 07:36 Lap 20

    Fernando Alonso has finally got past Massa, moving up to sixth and chasing Hülkenberg.

  • 07:36 Lap 20
    Gap Analysis
  • 07:37 Lap 21

    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.

  • 07:39 Lap 22

    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.

  • 07:39 Lap 22

    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.

  • 07:41 Lap 23

    Rosberg overtakes Jenson Button, who is firmly stuck just outside the points.

  • 07:42 Lap 24

    Meanwhile, the first blue flags of the afternoon are waved to Charles Pic.

  • 07:42 Lap 24

    TweetTweet 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

  • 07:43 Lap 24

    Meanwhile, Jules watches on from inside the garage, via @Marussia_F1Team.

  • 07:44 Lap 24

    Mark Webber is closing in on Grosjean, the gap less than a second to the race leader now.

  • 07:44 Lap 25

    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.

  • 07:45 Lap 25

    StopwatchSomehow, Jean-Éric Vergne sets the fastest lap of the race so far - 1:37.134. From 17th!

  • 07:45 Lap 26

    Webber gives up the chase on Grosjean and comes in to the pit lane for a good, clean stop.

  • 07:46 Lap 26

    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.

  • 07:48 Lap 26

    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.

  • 07:49 Lap 28

    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.

  • 07:50 Lap 29

    TweetTweet from @F1onNBCSports: Grosjean is bidding to become the first French winner of a grand prix since Olivier Panis in 1996

  • 07:51 Lap 29

    Massa reports to the pit wall that his rears are starting to go away. And he dives straight into the pit lane.

  • 07:51 Lap 29

    A massive lockup for Grosjean, as he tries to soak up the pressure from behind.

  • 07:51 Lap 30

    Grosjean pits.

  • 07:52 Lap 30

    Race controlIncident involving Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo under investigation - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 07:52 Lap 30

    Grosjean returns to the track behind Webber, so he's lost the lead for now... unless Webber has to stop again.

  • 07:53 Lap 31

    We've got replays of Nico Hülkenberg locking up out on track, and then even more so going back into the pit lane.

  • 07:54 Lap 31

    Alonso pits from fourth place.

  • 07:54 Lap 31

    Gutiérrez and Pérez both come in from the midfield for their second stops of the afternoon.

  • 07:55 Lap 32

    Sergio Pérez had a problem on the right rear tyre during his pit stop, a delay for the McLaren driver.

  • 07:55 Lap 32

    Race controlDrive through penalty for Daniel Ricciardo - leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

  • 07:56 Lap 33
    One to Watch
    N Hülkenbergvs.F Alonso
  • 07:57 Lap 33

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: #Hulk stays ahead of ALO after pit stop. we are on fire!!! YES.

  • 07:57 Lap 33

    The way this weekend has been going, Sauber may want to avoid that turn of phrase!

  • 07:57 Lap 33

    Race controlIncident involving Felipe Massa under investigation - speeding in the pit lane. It's a drive through penalty for the Ferrari.

  • 07:58 Lap 34

    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.

  • 08:00 Lap 35
    Recent Lap Times
    M Webber
    Lap 311:36.283
    Lap 321:36.223
    Lap 331:36.095
    Lap 341:36.061
    Lap 351:36.175
  • 08:01 Lap 35
    Driver Positions
    11S Vettel1
    2-1M Webber2
    31R Grosjean2
    43N Hülkenberg2
    53F Alonso2
  • 08:01 Lap 36

    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.

  • 08:03 Lap 36

    StopwatchK Räikkönen sets the fastest lap so far, 1:35.516. He's currently running sixth, with Fernando Alonso ahead of him.

  • 08:05 Lap 38

    QuoteInterview 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."

  • 08:05 Lap 38

    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."

  • 08:06 Lap 39

    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.

  • 08:08 Lap 40

    The gap between Vettel and Grosjean is shrinking rapidly.

  • 08:09 Lap 40

    Rosberg pits for the fourth time of the afternoon (one was a drive through).

  • 08:10 Lap 41

    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.

  • 08:11 Lap 42
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:12 Lap 42

    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.

  • 08:12 Lap 43

    There he goes, Webber pits from the lead of the race, handing P1 to Vettel.

  • 08:13 Lap 43
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverM Webber
    TeamRed Bull
    Pit lane23.094s
  • 08:14 Lap 43

    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.

  • 08:14 Lap 43

    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.

  • 08:15 Lap 44

    Replays show Nico Rosberg attempted to pass Sergio Pérez and punctured the rear tyre on the McLaren. Impromptu pit stop for the McLaren team.

  • 08:16 Lap 44
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:16 Lap 45

    Pastor Maldonado had a bit of an off, kicking up some dust which looked good on the replay.

  • 08:17 Lap 45

    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?

  • 08:18 Lap 46

    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!

  • 08:19 Lap 46

    Alonso finally gets the jump on the Sauber he was following, and overtakes Hülkenberg for fourth place.

  • 08:20 Lap 47

    Webber has moved in on Grosjean, about half a second between the two now.

  • 08:22 Lap 48

    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.

  • 08:23 Lap 49

    Five laps to go, and Webber is faffing about behind Grosjean here. Even down the home straight, he can't even pull alongside.

  • 08:23 Lap 49

    We didn't see it, but Button has overtaken Paul di Resta for that tenth place and final point.

  • 08:24 Lap 50

    Webber pulls up to Grosjean but can't find any opening past. The pair are catching up to some traffic now.

  • 08:25 Lap 50

    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.

  • 08:25 Lap 50

    Charles Pic has passed Max Chilton with just four laps to go. Disappointing for the Marussia crew.

  • 08:26 Lap 51

    Rosberg radio informs him they are critical on fuel.

  • 08:27 Lap 51

    It's Kimi Räikkönen stuck behind Nico Hülkenberg now, as the Lotus hasn't enough straight-line speed to capitalise.

  • 08:27 Lap 52

    Two laps to go and Webber FINALLY sweeps past the Lotus on the home straight. He made hard work of that!

  • 08:28 Lap 52

    Into the final chicane, Kimi somehow squeezes by Hülkenberg to take fifth.

  • 08:30

    Chequered flagSebastian Vettel wins the Japanese Grand Prix!

  • 08:32

    Esteban Gutiérrez crosses the line seventh to pick up his first points in Formula One!

  • 08:33
    Race Winner
    DriverS Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Race time1:26:49.301
    Race distance307.471km
    Average speed212.484km/h
  • 08:34

    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.

  • 08:35
    Driver Positions
    11S Vettel2
    2-1M Webber3
    31R Grosjean2
    44F Alonso2
    54K Räikkönen2
    61N Hülkenberg2
    77E Gutiérrez2
    8-2N Rosberg4
    91J Button3
    10-5F Massa3
  • 08:35

    Vettel climbs from the car, and sticks up that winning finger to the camera.

  • 08:36

    TweetTweet 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.

  • 08:37

    Conversation a little stilted in the green room. Webber gives the camera a friendly wave, but mostly ignores the others.

  • 08:39

    The drivers head on to the podium to the cheers from the crowd below, and then it's the national anthems.

  • 08:40

    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.

  • 08:42

    Final gap analysis. There's a further eleven seconds to Alonso in fourth.

    Gap Analysis
  • 08:43

    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.

  • 08:44

    Eddie Jordan arrives for the quotes, but Webber has disappeared!

  • 08:45

    QuotePodium 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."

  • 08:47

    QuotePodium 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."

  • 08:50

    QuotePodium 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."

  • 08:51
    Championship Standings
    1S Vettel297
    2F Alonso207
    3K Räikkönen177
    4L Hamilton161
    5M Webber148
  • 08:52
    Championship Standings
    1Red Bull445
  • 08:54
    J BianchiAccident1
    G van der GardeAccident1
    L HamiltonFloor damage8
  • 08:56

    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.

  • 08:57

    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.

  • 08:58

    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.

  • 08:59

    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.

  • 09:03

    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