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GP Week : Issue 170
MONZA IS A SPIKE IN THE SCHEDULE THAT MUST BE SCRUPULOUSLY OBSERVED, AN ENGINE CIRCUIT IN THE OLD TRADITION. Vettel got a clean start and was well out of harm’s way as bedlam ensued behind him ... " 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SUZUKA I t was clear that Red Bull Racing’s 2012 challenger, the Adrian Newey-designed RB8, was the car to beat around Suzuka’s narrow, twisting confines from the moment the pit-lane opened for the start of FP1 on Friday morning. While McLaren showed promise, Red Bull had all the bases covered on a track that’s so aero-dependant. In addition, Sebastian Vettel arrived in the land of the rising sun with momentum on his side, having won on the floodlit streets of Singapore. Few would have bet against the defending champion taking his fourth consecutive pole position at Suzuka. Seb was simply untouchable in qualifying, nabbing pole position with a 1m30.839s, while team-mate Mark Webber went second fastest to seal RBR’s first front-row lockout of the season. As I’m sure many drivers, but particularly Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg will testify, pole position was undoubtedly the safest place to be for the charge down to the S Curves on the opening lap. Vettel got a clean start and was well out of harm’s way as bedlam ensued behind him. From fifth on the grid, championship leader Alonso had an innocuous-looking coming together with Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, which caused a left-rear puncture that sent the Ferrari driver spearing into retirement and his points advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings tumbling. “Today, we were very unlucky; to finish a race like this at the very first corner is a real shame,” said a disappointed Alonso. “Unfortunately, when you start in the middle of the pack, these things can happen. What occurred today could happen to the others next time: the wheel turns and that’s what races are all about.” Out of the second bend, any hopes of a Red Bull one-two were left in tatters when the unguided missile, Romain Grosjean, struck again – he tagged the right-side of Webber’s car, necessitating a pit-stop for the Australian who re-joined at the tail of the field. After the race, a livid Webber