Vettel hails fantastic, perfect weekend at Suzuka
7 October 2012
Sebastian Vettel was back to his dominant best at Suzuka, untouchable from lights to flag as he claimed the first back-to-back win of any driver in the unpredictable 2012 F1 season.
"It's been a fantastic weekend," he agreed. "Yesterday's qualifying was perfect and today again, the balance of the car was amazing," he said, adding that they'd needed to make minimal changes during the race. "It just seemed to work fantastically well."
"A great result for Sebastian," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "It was a textbook drive for Sebastian today, he really was in a class of his own."
It wasn't just the margin of his domination in the Japanese Grand Prix that will have worried his rivals, it's also the fact that this sudden jump in performance had been achieved without any major technical upgrades to the car.
"The guys have been pushing very hard and even though we didn't have major upgrades here, it still seemed to come together and the balance was there," he said. "That's what made the difference today."
Vettel's victory is his 24th Grand Prix win, putting him on an equal footing with one of the all-time greats of the sport, Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio. Learning this took the F1 history buff off guard, and the emotions were clear as he contemplated his achievement.
But as much as Vettel loves the past of the sport, it's the future he's firmly focused on right now. His win and Fernando Alonso's first lap retirement utterly transforms the drivers championship battle and closes up the margin between them to just 4pts going into next weekend's race in Korea.
"To win in such a dominant fashion really closes up the Championship," agreed Christian Horner.
"It's a shame for Alonso, it's not something you hope for and it could happen to us at the next race," pointed out a more cautious Vettel. "We've seen this year there are a lot of up and downs and things change quickly. We have to keep our heads down and take it step by step."
It should really have been a Red Bull 1-2 in Japan, but Mark Webber ended up getting run into by Romain Grosjean in the aftermath of Alonso's spin which meant that recovering to a points finish was a minor miracle in its own right.
"I haven't seen what happened at the start, but it's been confirmed that it was Grosjean who hit me," said Webber. "It's frustrating as a few of the big guys suffered out there today.
"We went onto a one stop strategy from then on, but I kept pushing, I didn't give up and got something from it," he continued. "To finish eight seconds off fifth, after the fact I was in reverse at one point – and also the safety car came in before I caught the back of the field – was something."
Horner was in complete agreement: "Grosjean completely misjudged the corner and hit Mark taking him out of the race. Mark then had to come into the pits for a safety check, change tyres and the nose and then, before he had a chance to join the back of the pack, the race re-started, so he was 20 seconds behind.
"His recovery from that far back thereafter was excellent and he drove very well," Horner added.