Japanese Grand Prix driver ratings

By on Monday, October 8, 2012

Sebastian Vettel | 1st | 10/10

A renowned Suzuka specialist, Vettel was utterly supreme around the figure of eight circuit. He claimed a comfortable pole position, led every lap, set the fastest lap and eased to victory by twenty seconds. We’ll never know how fast he could have gone had Alonso and Webber been challenging him, but the win was always likely.

Mark Webber | 9th | 8/10

He was completely blameless with regards to the contact with Grosjean, although had he made a slightly better start then he would have been far enough in front. Nevertheless, it was a strong fight back considering he was facing the wrong way after the first corner, and didn’t make it to the back of the pack in time for the restart.

Jenson Button | 4th | 8/10

He was one of the main beneficiaries of the chaos at the start, but from then on the race never came to him. He was never close enough to attempt a move on Kobayashi, while the belief that he had a gearbox issue during the race probably limited his confidence.

Lewis Hamilton | 5th | 6/10

Following an upbeat Friday, a set-up change on Saturday left him stranded at the wrong end of the top ten and on course for a challenging race. Bold move on Kimi Raikkonen resulted in another couple of points, but the championship is looking increasingly forlorn.

Fernando Alonso | Ret | 3/10

Without sounding too harsh on Alonso, it was the second time this season he’s moved across on a driver at the start. He got away with it in Monaco, but didn’t in Japan and paid the price. For a man with a lot at stake, he could have given Raikkonen a little bit more space.

Felipe Massa | 2nd | 9/10

Finally, Felipe Massa is back on the podium and it is thoroughly deserved. The Brazilian has received a lot of unfair criticism this season and while he had a slice of luck at the start, his pace before the first set of pit stops meant he was second rather than fourth. A 2013 contract beckons.

Michael Schumacher | 11th | 5/10

With a ten place penalty at a circuit where Mercedes struggled, it was always going to be a difficult challenge to make it into the points. He started on the hard tyres in the hope of an alternative strategy succeeding, but it was a long shot.

Nico Rosberg | Ret | 4/10

The W03 was firmly rooted in the midfield in qualifying and Rosberg ended up starting in from fourteenth. The concertina effect of Webber and Grosjean colliding slowed the field and left Rosberg as the victim of Bruno Senna. His first retirement of the season but at least the weekend was panning out badly anyway, if that’s consolation.

Kimi Raikkonen | 6th | 7/10

Raikkonen seemed to spend much of the weekend in the company of Alonso and Hamilton, as well as delivering a gem when asked whether he cared that he hindered his rivals in Q2. Contact with Alonso at the start was avoidable, but he’d already taken to the grass. Perhaps could have kept Hamilton behind at Turn 1.

Romain Grosjean | 19th | 1/10

As we discussed here, Grosjean has been on the receiving end of some unwarranted criticism this season, but this one was entirely his fault. He was focusing on Perez when he just bumbled into Webber’s sidepod and his excuse at this level of racing is quite frankly unacceptable.

Paul di Resta | 12th | 5/10

He was unlucky to lose out on a place in Q3 but worse came at the start when a clutch issue dropped him down the order and meant he was mired in the midfield for the remainder of the event.

Nico Hulkenberg | 7th | 7/10

An improvement on Singapore as he collected a few points courtesy of seventh place. The team has never excelled at Suzuka, but Hulkenberg hung on to the back of Hamilton and Raikkonen early on but couldn’t find a way through.

Kamui Kobayashi | 3rd | 10/10

This was something that will remain in the memory for a long time. Kobayashi’s maiden podium came at exactly the right time and it couldn’t have come at a better place. He was jubilant, the fans were delirious and it was a podium achieved totally on merit.

Sergio Perez | Ret | 4/10

Perez’s clumsy race shows exactly why McLaren has taken a gamble on acquiring his services. He was again outpaced in qualifying by Kobayashi and then an opportunistic move on Raikkonen saw him lose a place to Hamilton. Re-claimed said place but spun out a few laps later.

Daniel Ricciardo | 10th | 8/10

With the Toro Rosso firmly stuck in the midfield, achieving a point was commendable, especially considering the way he held off a faster Michael Schumacher in the final stint.

Jean Eric Vergne | 13th | 5/10

It was one of those weekends for Vergne when nothing worked out. Bumbled around in Q1 and paid the price for it by being given a grid drop. Team put him on the hard tyres but from 19th on the grid it was always a lost cause.

Pastor Maldonado | 8th | 7/10

Finally, the Venezuelan finished in the points for the first time since his increasingly surreal Spanish victory. Single lap pace wasn’t there but he gained places at the start and stayed at the bottom end of the top ten from then on.

Bruno Senna | 14th | 4/10

Senna seems to be the one getting all the bad luck in 2012. He was blocked by Vergne in Q1 (although if he kept going rather than arm flapping he might have made Q2) and then tagged Rosberg at the start. A drive through penalty was the result.

Heikki Kovalainen | 15th | 7/10

After the misery of Singapore, Caterham was back to leading the ‘new’ group of teams and as ever, Kovalainen was the stand out performer. First corner incidents left him a giddying eleventh, although he slipped back when attempting an ill-fated one stopper.

Vitaly Petrov | 17th | 4/10

Rear wing fell off at the end of FP2, which despite driving a Caterham still left him with a sudden loss of downforce. He was fortunate it didn’t happen at 130R, but less fortunate was his own inability to string a qualifying lap together. KERS packed up in the race and he received a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags for good measure.

Pedro de La Rosa | 18th | 8/10

Once again, de La Rosa seems to defy his age as he put in a very good performance in Japan. Qualifying lap was better than the Marussia of Pic and although he finished the race in last place, he deserves credit for outperforming the car.

Narain Karthikeyan | Ret | 5/10

He qualified in last place again but he was using the old floor compared to de La Rosa. That said, it was his own mistake in practice that condemned him to using old parts. Retired from the race due to damage on the car.

Timo Glock | 16th | 7/10

With Marussia gradually improving, you’d feel that Glock may well be reaping the rewards of his loyalty. He finished just eight seconds down on Kovalainen’s Caterham and comfortably clear of Petrov.

Charles Pic | Ret | 6/10

It was his first voyage to Suzuka so his pace comparable to Glock was acceptable, if nothing outstanding. Engine failure resulted in his exit from the event.

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