by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 137
NOT that it mattered much, for Seb Vettel was going to clinch his second World Championship in Korea if he wasn’t going to do so in Suzukaland, but I suspect the conversation in the Stewards’ room, just after the start, would have gone something like this: “So. Alan: what do you think of that move by Vettel at the start? He pushes the Button, no?” “Eh?” replies the burly, Australian 1980 World Champion, Alan Jones, putting down his glass. “ What move? Oh that move. Nah. Seb was just squeezing him a little. He’s a racing driver. What else is he supposed to do? Send him a f***ing invitation?” Thus Seb Vettel safely secured his second World Championship. I say “secured” because we all have to remember that the new Champion isn’t officially consecrated until the end of the season – and that the FIA, if it chose so to do, could ‘remove’ the second title from young Seb’s already heavily-laden shoulders in some form of bizarre penalty for an upcoming misdemeanour. They won’t, though. Seb’s too nice a guy, too good a representative of his sport. Too uncontroversial. He’s not – in the emotional sense – a Senna or a Schumacher. Nothing will go amiss. This one’s in the history books, and thus we should underline it in red: Sebastian Vettel led the 2011 Championship from Race 1 and secured it by Race 15. With four races still to run. With nine wins, four seconds, one third and a fourth. With almost complete domination, in other words. Not surprisingly, though, he drove a little nervously in Japan. He never looked comfortable up through the esses – a zone that he seemed to own exclusively in 2009-10; he touched the tyre wall after losing concentration on Friday on the approach to Degner One; and by modern F1 standards he was needlessly aggressive off the line – needlessly in the sense that above all he needed a trouble-free Suzuka if he was going to clinch the title. AJ was always going to be on the side of the aggressor, of course; but, still, it was a risk. Seb reacted well, though, when it became clear that Jenson Button’s McLaren had taken the edge. Seb’s 5.3 sec lead was reduced by half of that amount by the time the first cycle was over (laps 9/10) – and Jenson was ahead as they emerged from Cycle Two (laps 19/20). Seb pressed him hard for a lap or three – but then consolidated, as drivers in his position are entitled to do. The McLaren team had worked diligently since Silverstone on additional high-speed downforce and here, at Suzuka, they had produced an RB7-beater. Jenson, immaculate in his car, tyre and race management, walked away with it. RBR’s response, then, was to put Seb onto primes relatively early (lap 33) and to let him run through to the finish. Good call. The pressure was alleviated and the goal was clear; and, of course, anything could still happen. In reality, Seb struck a mid-field traffic jam and lost time. Fernando Alonso, doing a Button-like job for Ferrari, assumed Sebastian Vettel becomes the ninth back-to-back F1 champion and the youngest yet. Suzuka was the perfect arena for this historic race. But the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix winner’s trophy has another name on it: Jenson Button. Peter Windsor reports on a beautiful day for both drivers. F1 JAPAN >> ANALYSIS PEtEr WINDSOr F1 Columnist x2 25