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

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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. I’m voting for Kobayashi over Vettel for the same reason that I voted for Perez over Hamilton: One driver turned up in the best car and did a thoroughly professional job all weekend, and the other driver maximised his performance from the car for the entire race and held is own excellently in the field. Plus Kamui did a good job in qualifying to boot.

  2. While I wont begrudge those who’ve voted for Vettel – I mean, come on, he really made it look easy all weekend – I think there are more compelling reasons to vote for Kobayashi, even aside from the sentimental aspect.

    Obviously the Red Bull was looking quite formidable this weekend, as evidenced by the front row lockout in qualifying, where Vettel out-paced Webber by 0.251 seconds. On top of that, Webber was taken out by Grosjean, which meant that nobody had the equipment to challenge or even threaten Vettel during the race.

    Meanwhile Kamui out-qualified his (deservedly) highly-rated, McLaren-bound teammate by an even larger margin, and even nabbed second place with a very quick start. He couldnt do anything about the superior race pace of Massa’s Ferrari, but he matched or bettered Button’s McLaren for the first two stints and gave it all he had to stay in front in the final few laps.

    I’m not saying Vettel had room for improvement, but he wasnt challenged at all on Sunday, whereas Kamui truly shined under immense pressure.

  3. Timo Glock… again… the most underrated driver in F1. Seriously, 1%?… and that was me!

  4. Hard to choose between the top three, but on cold facts alone, I’ll give it to Vettel. Thankfully all three of them are miles ahead of everyone else in the poll, so it doesn’t matter too much.

  5. There were lots of good performances over the weekend, Kobayashi and Massa in particular.
    I’ve voted Vettel because he really did dominate, there wasn’t really anything more he could have done to be any better!

  6. I find it impossible not to vote for Sebastian. Flawless victory.

  7. I voted for Vettel because he was one league of his own. This was maybe the most dominant weekend ever for Vettel.
    Quallify : 1 run for each Quallify stage , and in all 3 first .bang – bang – bang ..pole
    race : never lost the lead , over 20 sec gap from second, fastest lap in the end of the race where he didn’t had to push anymore.
    What else should this guy do to win ONCE this poll ?
    I wanted to see Webber fighting in the top spots to see if he could match Vettels times.
    Red Bull was without doubt the best car of the weekend but this performance from Vettel wasn’t only due to the car, i think.
    The onboard video from his quallifying lap was amazing. Did anyone else drove through all the esses with 5th gear , first degner with 6th….??
    Massa drove his best race in the last 2 years , but except from the good result i didn’t see him do something special in the race. In the first stint he was behind kamui holding a steady gap an didn’t try even to close that gap.
    After the pits it was the opposite, with kamui this time to compromise with 3rd and didn’t wanna risk anything.
    The only substantial was his defense to Button in the 8 last laps. Which wasn’t too difficult in my opinion because the shortened DRS zone this year was totally useless.
    Another factor is that Sauber had a very quick car in this track , maybe even better than mclaren. Perez overtook one time Hamilton and probably would do it again if he didn’t done that mistake, breaking late.
    Kamui is a good driver and this was his first podium, and even more in his home soil. But even so i can’t compare his performance nor Massa’s performance by that of Vettel.

  8. Vettel had a perfect weekend, my vote is for him. It is without doubt the best modern world champion, after Schumacher.
    A normal race with Massa with a fast car and his best result in two years, but not much more than that.
    Kobayashi also had a very good race and was great to see him at the podium in his country.

  9. HAHA!!!! Yes, I imagined that even when Sebastian Vettel has got EVERYTHING this weekend, the voters would find a way for not voting for him. Kobayashi drive was great but Vettel hass a GRANS SLAM! Your votes please…

  10. Vettel. As simple as that. Pole, fastest lap and victory.
    Quite surprised with Massa behind Kamui in the voting, he came from tenth to second in the race and Kamui was 3rd on the grid and 3rd at the finish, a good result, but not as good.

    1. Massa blew it in Q2 when he looked set to outqualify Alonso for once
      Kobayashi was on it all weekend

  11. My drivers of weekend would b in same order as they finished.
    1. Sebestian Vettel
    2. Felipe Massa
    3. Kamui Kobayashi

  12. Has to be Seb.

  13. Vettel did absolutely everything right – he made it look effortless. In fact, I suspect it virtually was effortless for him! But sorry Seb, I voted for Kamui, who under pressure for his drive next year, drove his heart out and came good in front of his home fans.

  14. This podium epitomizes what is great about F1. A case can be made for Vettel, Massa and Kobayashi, and each for such different, yet important reasons.

    It was a true champions drive for Vettel, with authority and perfection throughout.

    It was a career saving, confidence boosting, return to form for Massa.

    It was a Hometown hero, fight to finish for Kobayashi.

    It was hard for me to choose, but in the end I picked Massa, as I’m sure Kamui will most deservedly win this poll anyway :)

  15. Koboyashi getting his first podium was wonderful. I was cheering him to the end. And hearing the crowd chant Kamui at the podium ceremony was one of my favourite moments of the year.

    However, the vote is for driver of the weekend, not favourite moment. And DOTW simply has to go to Vettel, even though he had the fastest car. That advantage didn’t stop (for example) Button winning DOTW in Spa, and it shouldn’t stop Vettel here.

    Frankly, you can’t do any more than put the car on pole, lead every lap, set the fastest lap and cross the line first. So Vettel from me, because even though he is not my favourite driver, the poll is for what you do in the car, and I don’t see how his performance could have been any more perfect.

  16. I know Kamui drove really well at suzuka in front of his people with all the extra pressure but no way he can be ahead of Vettel in this poll. Seb destroyed all the other drivers on qualy and no one could match his pace at race.

  17. I feel only three drivers has mistake free weekends; Vettel, Kobayashi and Ricciardo.

    Massa drove a fantastic race and would be my vote for Driver of the Day but a mistake in Quali cost him a place in Q3 and DOTW

    Although Kobayashi’s podium was absolutely wonderful to see, I don’t think he got the most out of the Sauber, I was disappinted how fast he dropped behind both Vettel and Massa. He was lucky Alonso and Webber were taken out, because his pace wasn’t as impressive as I had expected.

    DOTW is down to Vettel and Ricciardo for me. Vettel was flawless all weekend and romped to victory, he deserves to win Driver of the Weekend, but I’m voting Ricciardo as I feel he is equally deserving but won’t get any recognition. The Toro Rosso is well behind the other cars but he qualified well and hauled the car into the points with superb defence from Schumacher at the end.

  18. One an average weekend, it would be Vettel. Fast in practice sessions, quickest in all 3 qualifying segments, led every single lap and a flap.

    But then again, Kamui, by Sauber’s above average standards, had an equally good weekend. Strong practice sessions, 4th in qualifying, made a lightning start, and finished third. In fact, he’d have finished 2nd if not for Sauber pitting him into traffic.

    PS: I know, many would say that Perez has done this before, but remember, in each of those occasions, Perez qualified poorly, and started on an alternate strategy that allowed him to progress. Here, Kamui took the bull by the horns, almost literally.

  19. Has to be Sebastian Vettel. And sadly it won’t be him… Again. I have no love for the guy myself, but the fact that in Singapore people voted Hamilton, who did not even finish half the race, on the premise that he would have won had his gearbox not failed and that he got pole. Here Seb has ticked not just one or 2 but ALL of the boxes. Kamui drove well sure, Massa benefitted like Nico Hulkenberg from the 1st corner melee, but Sebastian dominated. I will disagree with anyone who says Sauber is an inferior car and that makes Kamui’s podium special. The fact is that Sauber has been one of the strongest cars for most of the season. Thus I could argue that the podium was more the car than the driver.

    I think this poll will only reflect how unpopular Vettel is. That many would want to find a reason not to vote for him. Everyone is entitled to their opinion as well and it is somewhat fair to vote for a driver you like or not vote for one you dislike. But taking Singapore into consideration I think Vettel should be DOTW.

  20. Vetel had the clear air, Massa benefited from the first lap drama and Traffic, KK race for his future in F1.

    My vote goes to KK.

    1. fair call, but Vettel was racing for the title. Is that not pressure?

      1. Since he already has 2 titles under his belt, and he had a relatively easy race from the front with no pressure on him, yes. It’s not to belittle his ability, but when Red Bull get their car right they seem to have a huge advantage over the rest and it doesn’t matter if it’s Webber or Vettel.. Usually Vettel is more consistent at getting everything out of the car.

        KK on the other hand, might not even be in F1 next year, people only look at his race results and ignore his qualifying and bad luck. Suzuka was the first weekend in his career where nothing went wrong for him. Great Quali, clean race. And he showed his quality by withstanding pressure from Button at the end. If he doesn’t get a drive next year while Perez is at Mclaren, I think I will be sick.

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