He only needed one point from the Japanese GP, but Sebastian Vettel scored 15 with a third placed finish, making him the 2011 Formula 1 champion and the youngest ever double world champion. He now has an unassailable 324 points over closest challenger Jenson Button’s 210, with four races remaining. The McLaren man on form won at Suzuka, his third win this season. Fernando Alonso came in second for Ferrari.
Vettel’s ability to wrap up his title in Japan was never in doubt – he started from pole and was the winner in Suzuka for the past two years. The 24-year old German has won nine times this season out of 15 races so far, and his lowest finish was fourth place in his home race. The fact that he needed only one more point with four races to go underlines his dominance this season – no one can catch the man!
He wasn’t just lying around to do the bare minimum, that’s for certain. Jenson, who was beaten to pole by just 0.009 sec yesterday, made a good start, but Vettel defended the lead strongly, pushing the Brit to the grass. It warranted an investigation, but no penalty was given by the stewards. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton jumped into second, a position he held until lap 7, when he pitted due to a puncture.
After the first round of stops, Hamilton was fourth behind Alonso. The fast charging Button got closer to Vettel, but only jumped the champ after the second round of stops. Later, a clash between Massa and Hamilton (again!) forced the safety car out of the paddock, but that didn’t affect Button. The next round of stops saw Alonso jump Vettel after the former stayed out longer. After some initial challenge, Vettel wisely settled for third.
Behind them, Mark Webber was fourth, followed by Hamilton and Michael Schumacher, the Mercedes GP Petronas man beating ex teammate Massa, who for some, doesn’t really have what it takes to be a Ferrari driver. Eighth and ninth went to Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Lotus Renault GP’s Vitaly Petrov, making the two-stop strategy work. Nico Rosberg did a good job to take the final point from the last row.
Further back, Team Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli finished in their usual 18th and 19th positions ahead of the Virgins and HRTs.
Double world champion Vettel is sometimes called “The New Schumacher”. Maybe he isn’t, maybe he’ll be better than Schumi and break the older man’s records. He has time on his side, after all. Congrats Seb!