Start, Suzuka, 2012

Vote for your Japanese GP driver of the weekend

2012 Japanese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Which F1 driver had the best race weekend in Japan?

Compare all the drivers’ performances below and vote for who you think was the best driver of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Japanese Grand Prix driver-by-driver

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012Sebastian Vettel – Vettel was in imperious form at Suzuka. His qualifying effort was particularly special as he only needed one lap in each of the three parts to get the job done. However he was perhaps fortunate to only receive a reprimand after getting in Alonso’s way at the chicane. From pole he romped home to win by over 20 seconds and even enjoyed the luxury of being able to pit later than his closest rivals. He led every lap to complete the second perfect result of his career.

Mark Webber – Webber was not far off Vettel’s pace in qualifying and was unlucky to be taken out at turn two by Grosjean. Having reversed back onto the track he pitted for new tyres yet didn’t have time to join the safety car queue before the race restarted. In spite of this considerable setback he recovered to ninth, pitting just once more for tyres on the way.


Jenson Button – Qualified third and was relegated to eighth by his gearbox change. But he started well and got past Alonso on the run to the first corner. Elevated to third by the chaos in front of him, he was unable to jump past Kobayashi after suffering gearbox problems around the time of his first stop, which also helped Massa get past him. He finished fourth.

Lewis Hamilton – Felt he’d gone the wrong way on set-up in qualifying and started ninth. But halfway through the race he felt the car improve. “It was a bit of a struggle in the first stint ?ǣ I had a lot of understeer ?ǣ but after a while the car started turning again,” he said. “From that moment on, it felt really good, and I was able to push but it was too late to have much of an effect on the result.” The improvement in his lap times in the middle of his second stint can be seen here. His new-found confidence in the car allied to a superbly quick McLaren pit stop helped him pass Raikkonen for fifth.


Start, Suzuka, 2012Fernando Alonso – Was unfortunate to be inconvenienced by Raikkonen’s spin in qualifying and possibly lost more time because of Vettel at the chicane. In between Button and Raikkonen on the run too hard he didn’t leave quite enough room for the Lotus which got onto the grass and spun into him, puncturing his tyre and ending his race.

Felipe Massa – Looked quick in qualifying but missed Q3 for the tenth time this year. The first-lap crashes meant he immediately moved up to fourth, and he jumped Kobayashi and Button at the first pit stop for second. That was enough for his first visit to the podium in 36 races.


Michael Schumacher – Had a crash during practice and started 23rd on the grid due to his penalty from Singapore. As he moved through the field he made an excellent pass on Di Resta but couldn’t find a way by Ricciardo to claim the final point.

Nico Rosberg – Qualified 15th which became 13th after penalties but he retired after being hit by Senna at the first corner.


Kimi Raikkonen – Started seventh having spun during qualifying, delaying several drivers including Alonso. Then had contact with Ferrari at the first corner which put Alonso out. Raikkonen fended off an attack from Perez but had to surrender fifth place to Hamilton. Nonetheless extended his streak of points finished to 12 races.

Romain Grosjean – Out-qualifying Raikkonen on a drivers’ track like Suzuka was impressive. But another first-lap collision left him in the doghouse once again, and on the receiving end of a verbal dressing-down from Webber.

Force India

Paul di Resta – Developed a clutch problem on the formation lap which caused a poor start. He finished 12th.

Nico Hulkenberg – Had a minor crash during practice, as did his team mate. The team had to hurry to get his car ready for qualifying, but he repaid their efforts by reaching Q3. However a gearbox change penalty left him 15th on the grid. Moved up to eighth thanks to the first corner chaos, picked up another place from Perez and kept Maldonado at bay.


Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2012Kamui Kobayashi – With his place at Sauber rumoured to be under pressure, Kobayashi enjoyed a dream weekend on home ground. He claimed third on the grid and gained a place at the start despite having to run wide at turn two. Couldn’t prevent the faster Ferrari of Massa from jumping him in the pits, but Button was never able to try to make a move on him for third, and he duly claimed his first podium finish.

Sergio Perez – The focus of considerable attention following the announcement of his deal to drive for McLaren, Perez appeared to have vindicated the team’s decision when he passed Hamilton in fine style on lap six at the hairpin. But having lost the place in the pits he then threw his race away by spinning while trying to pass Hamilton again: “Lewis went quite late to the inside and I had only room on the outside,” he said. “But it certainly was my mistake.”

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo – Lost ninth place to the recovering Webber but held Schumacher off for his third points finish in four races. “I was really pleased to have won that battle,” he said. “It?s always tougher when you are the slower car in a duel, but with good advice from the pit wall on how to use the KERS to defend in the DRS zone, I managed it.”

Jean-Eric Vergne – Was penalised three places for holding up Senna in qualifying. Fell behind Kovalainen at the start as he had to avoid Rosberg’s spinning Mercedes. This cost him time in the first stint. He passed the Caterham in the second stint to finish 13th.


Pastor Maldonado, Williams, Suzuka, 2012Pastor Maldonado – Kept his nose clean again and finally scored his first points since winning in Spain with eighth place.

Bruno Senna – As the field braked to avoid the Webber/Grosjean collision at the start Senna ran into the back of Rosberg, for which he was given a drive-through penalty. Passed Grosjean in fine style on the outside at the approach to 130R as he recovered to 14th pace.


Heikki Kovalainen – Passed Glock for 11th at the restart and briefly appeared in ninth place during the first pit stops. However he lost places to Vergne and Senna in the middle stint and finished 15th.

Vitaly Petrov – Finished behind Glock’s Marussia after his KERS developed a fault. He also got a drive-through penalty for failing to obey blue flags. “I also had a problem with the radio and couldn?t hear the blue flag calls and that ended up with the drive-through penalty,” he said.


Pedro de la Rosa – Impressively out-qualified Pic’s Marussia and Petrov’s Caterham. But couldn’t sustain the advantage over a race distance and was the last running car when the chequered flag came out.

Narain Karthikeyan – Retired when the team discovered a problem with the floor which was deemed a safety risk.


Timo Glock – Had a pre-race drama when he hit a wheel nut in the pits on his way to the grid and thought something had broken on his car. He was 11th during the safety car period having squeezed past Kovalainen in the Esses on the first lap. “I knew that would be short-lived because we were struggling a bit with traction out of the last corner and obviously they have KERS and we don?t,” he said. Kovalainen duly passed him, as did several others, nonetheless he finished just eight-and-a-half seconds behind the Caterham.

Charles Pic – Further off Glock’s pace than usual on a tough track for a rookie. Was in front of Petrov and the Marussias but lost time when he failed to stop properly in his pit box. Retired shortly afterwards with an engine failure.

Qualifying and race results summary

Started Gap to team mate Laps leading team mate Pitted Finished Gap to team mate
Sebastian Vettel 1st -0.251s 53/53 2 1st -54.675s
Mark Webber 2nd +0.251s 0/53 2 9th +54.675s
Jenson Button 8th -1.037s 50/53 2 4th -21.392s
Lewis Hamilton 9th +1.037s 3/53 2 5th +21.392s
Fernando Alonso 6th -0.46s 0/0 0
Felipe Massa 10th +0.46s 0/0 2 2nd
Michael Schumacher 23rd -0.156s 0/0 2 11th
Nico Rosberg 13th +0.156s 0/0 0
Kimi Raikkonen 7th +0.31s 51/51 2 6th Not on same lap
Romain Grosjean 4th -0.31s 0/51 2 19th Not on same lap
Paul di Resta 11th +0.055s 0/53 2 12th +32.301s
Nico Hulkenberg 15th -0.055s 53/53 2 7th -32.301s
Kamui Kobayashi 3rd -0.322s 17/18 2 3rd
Sergio Perez 5th +0.322s 1/18 1
Daniel Ricciardo 14th -0.414s 52/53 2 10th -21.726s
Jean-Eric Vergne 19th +0.414s 1/53 2 13th +21.726s
Pastor Maldonado 12th -0.571s 53/53 2 8th -36.345s
Bruno Senna 16th +0.571s 0/53 3 14th +36.345s
Heikki Kovalainen 17th -0.775s 52/52 2 15th -49.258s
Vitaly Petrov 22nd +0.775s 0/52 2 17th +49.258s
Pedro de la Rosa 20th -1.349s 27/32 2 18th
Narain Karthikeyan 24th +1.349s 5/32 1
Timo Glock 18th -0.216s 37/37 2 16th
Charles Pic 21st +0.216s 0/37 2

Review the race data

Vote for your driver of the weekend

Which driver do you think did the best job this weekend?

Cast your vote below and explain your choice in the comments.

Who was the best driver of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend?

  • Sebastian Vettel (33%)
  • Mark Webber (3%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (1%)
  • Jenson Button (1%)
  • Fernando Alonso (0%)
  • Felipe Massa (17%)
  • Michael Schumacher (1%)
  • Nico Rosberg (0%)
  • Kimi Raikkonen (1%)
  • Romain Grosjean (1%)
  • Paul di Resta (0%)
  • Nico Hulkenberg (0%)
  • Kamui Kobayashi (39%)
  • Sergio Perez (0%)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (1%)
  • Jean-Eric Vergne (0%)
  • Pastor Maldonado (0%)
  • Bruno Senna (1%)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (1%)
  • Vitaly Petrov (0%)
  • Narain Karthikeyan (0%)
  • Pedro de la Rosa (0%)
  • Timo Glock (0%)
  • Charles Pic (0%)

Total Voters: 583

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2012 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Red Bull/Getty images, Sauber F1 Team, Williams/LAT

139 comments on “Vote for your Japanese GP driver of the weekend”

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  1. Vettel deserves this but, as perfect as his weekend was, it just doesn’t weigh as much as Koba’s performance: great quali, great race, survived direct pressure from Button, podium at his home GP and a result that might just get him a new contract with Sauber.

    Vettel and Massa are both serious contenders for DoTW here, but Koba just looks more deserving of winning this one…that’s all.

  2. @keithcollantine I think people are confused by the title of this article.
    Kobayashi certainly was the best “Japanese GP driver of the weekend” but Vettel was the best “Driver in the Japanese GP this weekend”
    Might need some clarification there ;)

    1. haha, nice catch

    2. In that case, Button should have received a bit more than 0% of votes, he’s got a Japanese girlfriend after all…

      1. No no no @girts!! It’s Japanese GP not Japanese GF!! Good God the confusion!!

        Although a driver Girlfriend Poll would be a good addition ;)

        1. +1,
          We want a driver Girl-/boyfriend Poll;-)

    3. @mw Another reason why you should never just read the headline and nothing else :-)

  3. It’s very difficult not to go with Vettel on this one. Kobayashi and Massa were emotionnal welcome feats but the man of the week end definitively was Vettel. He was running in a league of his own and was very reminiscent of 2011 Super-Vettel we never really liked voting for ! And now as then, I have to acknowledge utter dominance when I see it.

  4. As there is only one Japanese driver in F1 the answer to the pole “Vote for your Japanese GP driver of the weekend” has to be Kamui Kobayashi.

    1. +1, I thought the same, then reading the headline twice to grasp it.

  5. Filipe Massa

  6. I had it in mind whenever Vettel would win, I would vote him, but again I voted other, here Kamui.
    I suppose it is due to his 2011 dominance that we take his wins for granted.

  7. Massa was brilliant all the race. Comparing what he has done till now, I was surprised. If he deserves a place in Ferrari for the next season?…complicated.

  8. Has to be Kamui. The poduim ceremony was one of the most amazing I’ve seen and he got there by putting his car above the McLarens, Ferraris, & Lotuses in qualifying and managed to stay there. Hope he’ll stick around next year.

  9. Can’t understand the Massa votes. His performance was adequate nothing more. He did well to keep out of the first corner trouble but thats about it he was consistently average. This does however stand out from his terrible performances this year but surely doesn’t surpase the heroics and dogged determination of Kobayashi defence? I can even see the merit in voting for vettel but the massa votes must come from die hard narrow minded ferrari fans.

  10. The top three were all amazing: Vettel’s Grand Chelem was impressive but he had no pressure during the race as Alonso and Webber spun out and the McLarens were slow. Despite the great result, perhaps we are more used to it.
    Massa was very fast in qualifying but unlucky in Q2. He avoided everyone and became fourth on lap 1, and by pushing very hard he overtook two cars in the pits. Then he kept going for most of the time on Vettel’s laptimes despite an inferior car. The result is great as it comes after a long period of bad luck/results, not because of te result itself. Massa was great but if he drove like this every race my vote would go to Vettel.
    Kobayashi had a great result in qualifying and kept going all race long. Despite Sauber being on a high-note this weekend he had to push to keep Button behind, and he did so. My vote goes to him because his car wasn’t fast enough to deserve a podium but he drove brilliantly and took his first podium after two-and-a-half years in F1.

  11. It’s gonna be close!

  12. Voted massa
    But it should be vettel i voted massa because he has the same base as vettel in some times and we all know vettel was in another planet

  13. Voted for Vettel. The Pole, The Win and The Fastest Lap. Massa did well too – a decent result finally. Kobayashi also worthy of a mention. He’s finally had some luck go his way.

  14. Webber gets my vote for his mega catch-up drive

  15. I would have voted for Vettel, but it just had to be Kobayashi.

    Outqualified his teammate by a pretty decent margin at a track like Suzuka, and in the race dealt with the pressure of Button incredibly well.

    Nonetheless it was two very good drives by both Vettel and Massa also. Also, who swapped the Williams drivers around?

    1. Oh, and Webber and Schumacher too, very solid drive by them from the back

  16. As much as I want to vote for Kamui, and as ecstatic as I was that he finished on the podium, Vettel was untouchable. Even with the Red Bull being as good as it is, his weekend was absolutely perfect. No one could touch him. Even after pit stops he led because of how far into the lead he was.

  17. I’m normally tempted to vote for a surprise podium finisher as opposed to the ‘standard’ winner on the the top step of the podium. What’s more, Felipe’s and Kamui’s podiums were both great stories after very strong weekends from both drivers.

    This time, however, I will vote for Sebastian Vettel. He was simply in a different league all of Saturday and Sunday.

  18. A lot of people are writing: I voted Massa/Kobayashi, but Vettel should win this poll. Come on people: you vote for the driver that deserves to win this poll, and if you think that’s Vettel, then vote for him!

    Secondly: Vettel’s performance can’t get any better than he has shown this weekend. Now, if you still don’t think Vettel was the best driver of the weekend (like 64% does), then: what else can Vettel do to win your vote? I mean: come on people!

    1. Leading every lap while starting from the back? ;-)

      1. davidnotcoulthard
        9th October 2012, 0:08

        Winning in a P34?

    2. Well, some would say…
      When he wins, “it’s because of the car”
      When he doesn’t win, “it’s because he’s an average driver”

  19. Voted for Kamui. Was tempted to vote Vettel but in my opinion Kamui drove a better weekend outperforming his McLaren bound team mate Sergio Perez.

    I’d like to like Vettel actually but while he insists to wave his finger in an arrogant style, I cannot find myself to give him any support.

  20. I can see arguments being made for Vettel, Massa, and Kobayashi, but 2% for Hamilton, the same as Webber (who qualified P2 and came back from dead last to 9th?). I know there are people who can see no wrong with Hamilton, but Jenson has 0% and he had a better qualifying session and result than Hamilton.


    1. I couldnt agree more. By his own admission, he made the wrong call on crucial set-up decisions. Im pretty sure even Hamilton himself wouldnt even claim to be driver of the weekend!

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