Sebastian Vettel dominated the Japanese Grand Prix with a superb drive around the Suzuka circuit.
The German driver was unbeatable over the course of the race and overcame a safety car period to keep his championship hopes alive.
Vettel’s team-mate, Mark Webber, could only finish seventeenth after being plagued by a number of problems.
Sebastian Vettel – 1st: “What a race! We already had pole position and strategy-wise we were the favourites, but, you know – first of all you have to do the start! We were pretty confident that we could defend our position, as we’ve had good starts in the past, but it was closer than I thought it would be! Going into Turn 1, I suddenly saw a silver arrow on my left-hand side, but I had the inside line so it was my advantage. After that I put my head down and tried to push with every single lap. The car was fantastic and I was able to create a gap quite quickly.
“We were two laps longer than Lewis (Hamilton) and a lap longer than Jarno (Trulli) in the first stint, so it all worked out and I was pretty much in control of the race. After we fitted the soft tyres for the last stint, I wanted to have a little bit of fun. I did one very quick lap (I think a 32.5), but then my engineer came on the radio and said ‘watch your tyres, there might be a safety car or something’ and two laps later there was the safety car! It’s not what you want when you’re in the lead, but I was still taking care of my tyres and had a good restart.
“I had a bit of a cushion with Grosjean behind me and then three or four laps to build a gap again that was enough to win the race. Finally, we made it! Fantastic. I was screaming with happiness on the radio at the end of the race. The last couple of races have been a bit up and down, sometimes we had pace and sometimes not, but finally we made it. It’s good to be back in first position on Sunday. A huge thanks to all the team and everyone at Red Bull for this.”
Mark Webber – 17th: “I had to make two pit stops on the first two laps, so it was all over from there. On the first lap, the headrest came loose in the car, so I had to come in and get that fixed. I went back out, but the same thing happened so I had to come in again in order for the guys to tape it down. We tested some things today, and tried some other items for future races. That’s all we could really do from there.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “A brilliant job by Sebastian today. He’s been on it all weekend and he looked like he really enjoyed himself out there. The car’s worked fantastically well and a big thank you to everyone in the Red Bull team, to Renault and to all of our partners that have supported us so well here. For Mark, this was the weekend from hell with a chassis change overnight, then issues on the first lap with a headrest that had somehow come loose and then a puncture. After that the race was little more than a test, but it’s encouraging that right at the end he got the fastest lap time as a small consolation.”
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer Track Support: “A fantastic result for Sebastian today pole position and a win. It was a perfect weekend for him on what is a very difficult track for engines. Unfortunately for Mark his glass was more half empty than half full today. It was a difficult race for him after starting from the pit lane. He proved he was quick by setting the fastest lap of the race, but he couldn’t do anything else, so I’m sad for him. There are two more races to go and we won’t give up until the end.”