Webber was probably at his most competitive of 2013 in Japan and without Grosjean’s rocket start he may have romped to victory. The three-stop strategy put him on the back foot and he was unable to bridge the gap to Vettel by the end of the lap. Sebastian’s early laps were scruffy, but his pass on Grosjean was a race-winning move.
Despite getting the upper hand in qualifying, Massa was unable to drive a perfect race. A drive-though penalty put an end to any hopes of beating Alonso on-track and while Fernando was best-of-the-rest behind the leading Renault-powered cars, Felipe scored only one point.
Jenson got the upper-hand in qualifying and the pair did well to fight cleanly at the few times they came upon each other on track. With Ricciardo only five points behind Perez in the standings, McLaren need to do something in order to finish ahead of the STR driver.
Grosjean was the star of the race. Fourth in qualifying translated to the race lead by the first corner and while he was pushing for the victory Raikkonen was unimpressive in the middle order. Romain really needed these results earlier in the season.
Lewis qualified ahead, but less than two tenths separated third and sixth on the grid. A start-line incident with Vettel’s front wing started a reaction that would put Hamilton out of the race on lap 7 and while Rosberg didn’t set the world on fire, he did bag four more points than his team-mate.
Hulkenberg was on it again in Japan, but Esteban showed he’s not all as bad as his results might have suggested six months ago. Holding up the faster cars was on Nico’s agenda for the second weekend in a row and while he wasn’t able to do it to such a degree as was shown in Korea, he made an impression once again. Somebody give the man a top drive.
Another miserable result for the Force India boys – but at least they made it to the chequered flag this time. The pair struggled for pace all weekend and it was no surprise to see them do much the same on Sunday. The team scored 59 points in the first eight races until the tyre switch and have scored a mere three since the change. Frustration must be at an all-time high in the team’s factory.
A last-bid dive at the chicane may have left Bottas frustrated with his team-mate’s attitude, but when you’re fighting for 16th and 17th the best you can hope to achieve is finishing ahead of the guy who parks his car next to yours. For sheer commitment all the way to the flag I have to give the point to Pastor.
Ricciardo was flying all race and could very easily have scored solid points but for a drive-through penalty. The Australian vented his frustration over the radio shortly after his penalty was announced and his unhappiness is understandable – by the time the stewards had decided his move was illegal the Toro Rosso driver was five places ahead of di Resta. A quick call to Charlie Whiting could’ve resolved the issue in moments. Despite the penalty he recovered to finish only a couple of seconds behind his team-mate, but being faster on track counts for little unless you can maximise your opportunities.
Van der Garde went out at the first corner and Pic was forced to serve his drive-through penalty in the opening laps. Not Caterham’s most satisfying day.
Chilton was the star of the bottom teams in qualifying, outpacing both Caterhams and his team-mate in Q1. The Brit managed to keep it out of the gravel and away from the walls to finish his first Japanese Grand Prix, something Bianchi can’t claim to have managed.