James Allen's Japanese GP verdict - Feature - F1 | ITV Sport
Sunday, 10 October 2010 10:42
Red Bull utterly dominated the Japanese Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel untouchable in qualifying and the race.
Although his team-mate Mark Webber was never far behind, you had the feeling that Vettel had something in hand at all times and showed in qualifying that he is the Suzuka specialist.
It was only the second time in six years that qualifying took place on the race day, due to the adverse weather conditions, but Red Bull still locked out the front row.
It was also only the second time in eight attempts this year that Vettel has managed to win from pole position.
A huge day for Red Bull Racing, it brought Vettel back into the title race, increased Webber’s lead to 14 points and virtually secured the constructors’ championship. They are now 45 points ahead of Ferrari.
With three races to go, it is starting to look as though the champion will be either Webber, Vettel or Fernando Alonso.
McLaren trailed in here this weekend, Lewis Hamilton suffering gearbox problems in practice and then again in the race, and they need a 1-2 finish in Korea to get back into the hunt.
The track has a long straight so the F-duct will help there, but you get the impression that they don’t have quite enough in the technical locker to make the difference.
It was a real shame that Robert Kubica lost a rear wheel early on, as he had qualified an astonishing third in the Renault and then jumped Webber at the start. Had he stayed out there it would have been quite interesting.
Jenson Button took a gamble on the hard tyre in qualifying and the race, but it didn’t really work for him.
He was nowhere near Alonso and battled his team-mate Hamilton, who had to start eighth due to the gearbox penalty.
Given that Hamilton was able to outqualify Alonso on the soft tyre before his penalty, Button ought to have been able to do the same, which means McLaren handed Alonso a podium today.
And with Button now 31 points behind in the standings, the gamble today doesn’t look so good.
Despite the performance of Vettel, the real star driver of the day was Kamui Kobayashi, who started 14th on the hard tyre.
He made some fantastic passing moves, mainly at the hairpin, where his victims included Jaime Alguersuari, Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello and Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld.
Michael Schumacher had a much better day than of late.
Although he qualified behind his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg due to a problem with the F-duct on his car, he got ahead of him at the start.
Rosberg was able to undercut him on strategy, by pitting earlier, and Schumacher was forced to follow him for most of the second half of the race.
It was clear that he was faster than Rosberg, but couldn’t pass until Rosberg’s car appeared to fail and it flew off the road.
The teams now move on to the great unknown in Korea.
The track will still be receiving the finishing touches long after F1 moves on to Brazil, but we will have to make the best of it.
There will be no compromises on safety and the FIA’s Charlie Whiting will inspect the track this week to ensure that the safety equipment and race control are all fully functional.
The track is a real unknown, because the asphalt was only laid this week, so all the team’s simulations are going to be inaccurate.
This is quite exciting, as it will mean they will have to think on their feet on set-up.