Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2012

Kobayashi edges Vettel for top Japanese GP driver

2012 Japanese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Ewa Zaborska

Kamui Kobayashi’s maiden podium appearance in the Japanese Grand Prix elevated him to the top of the Driver of the Weekend poll.

Kobayashi netted 39% of the vote putting him just ahead of race-winner Sebastian Vettel on 33%.

Felipe Massa made his first appearance in the Driver of the Weekend top three after finishing second for Ferrari.

Driver of the Japanese Grand Prix Weekend poll ?ǣ top three

1. Kamui Kobayashi ?ǣ 39.2%
2. Sebastian Vettel ?ǣ 33.1%
3. Felipe Massa ?ǣ 16.8%

Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2012Started: 3rd
Finished: 3rd

Kamui Kobayashi enjoyed a perfect weekend in front of his home fans, starting with a third place on the grid and finishing the race in the same position. It was a timely performance from the Sauber driver, coming amid doubts over his future in F1.

He beat Mark Webber to turn one but was overhauled by Massa during the pit stops. Late in the race he resisted growing pressure from Jenson Button to claim the first podium of his career.

The statistics tell me I should vote for Vettel with his fast practice sessions, qualifying on pole, getting the fastest lap and winning the race, but I?m going to vote for Kamui Kobayashi because he drove exceptionally well in a merely decent car and withstood the pressure from the very quick McLaren of Button to keep the podium position he so deserved.

It was Kobayashi?s first podium in a race where he could show not just his speed, but defensive and tyre management skills, under the expectant eyes of his Japanese fans. He withstood the pressure and got the podium he deserves, and my vote.

Had to vote for Kobayashi. He?s a top driver. Like I said in previous posts, I had the privilege of seeing these guys in lower formula racing here in Macau. Kobayashi has “it”. completely outclassed everyone in this demanding city circuit when he raced here, even though he didn?t won the Sunday?s race (won the Saturday one, though).

Back to Suzuka, Lets not forget he qualified in fourth but had to reduce pace due to yellow flags. He completely outclassed Sergio Perez (the guy with my name). The race was flawless. Hope to see him in a bigger team.
Sergio Perez

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012Started: 1st
Finished: 1st

What is it about Vettel and Suzuka? His record now stands at four pole positions and three wins in four years.

The Red Bull driver dominated the weekend, scoring pole position, and setting fastest lap on his way to victory. He also led every single lap on Sunday, which meant he completed his second grand slam.

The ??best? driver of the weekend is Sebastian Vettel. His qualifying performance was stunning, and after the restart he led comfortably, winning with the biggest margin this year.

Vettel. As simple as that. Pole, fastest lap and victory.
Pedro Costa

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.

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2012Started: 10th
Finished: 2nd

The Ferrari driver’s weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts as he failed to reach Q3 for the tenth time this season.

But a series of crashes at the first corner promoted him to fourth by the end of lap one. From there he got ahead of Button and Kobayashi during the pit stops to end his near-two year wait for a podium.

Massa was very fast in qualifying but unlucky in Q2. He avoided everyone and became fourth on lap one, and by pushing very hard he overtook two cars in the pits.

Then he kept going for most of the time on Vettel?s lap times despite an inferior car. The result is great as it comes after a long period of bad luck/results, not because of the result itself.

He drove a great race (as he has done whenever Alonso isn?t in it) and he?d have been in contention has he made it out of Q2, but he didn?t. A good effort, especially with his contract undoubtedly being under pressure, I hope he can show more of it this year ?ǣ who knows Ferrari might even catch McLaren in the constructors’ championship if he does!

I have to say that even though Kobayashi deserves a big shout out for what he did, I had to put my vote to Massa. He either had to make this drive or it was almost certain his career was over.

2012 Driver of the Weekend results so far

Round First Second Third
Australia Jenson Button (43.6%) Fernando Alonso (21.1%) Sergio Perez (8.2%)
Malaysia Sergio Perez (61.4%) Fernando Alonso (28.1%) Bruno Senna (3.7%)
China Nico Rosberg (69.1%) Lewis Hamilton (10.0%) Jenson Button (6.4%)
Bahrain Kimi Raikkonen (56.3%) Sebastian Vettel (19.3%) Paul di Resta (10.6%)
Spain Pastor Maldonado (56.8%) Lewis Hamilton (27.5%) Fernando Alonso (6.4%)
Monaco Mark Webber (32.6%) Heikki Kovalainen (20.2%) Fernando Alonso (14.2%)
Canada Lewis Hamilton (58.7%) Sergio Perez (19.1%) Romain Grosjean (15.3%)
Europe Fernando Alonso (51.7%) Sebastian Vettel (18.4%) Michael Schumacher (8.9%)
Great Britain Mark Webber (50.1%) Fernando Alonso (18.7%) Romain Grosjean (17.3%)
Germany Fernando Alonso (62.4%) Jenson Button (12.5%) Kamui Kobayashi (8.7%)
Hungary Lewis Hamilton (55.2%) Kimi Raikkonen (30.1%) Bruno Senna (5.5%)
Belgium Jenson Button (52.7%) Sebastian Vettel (20.5%) Nico Hulkenberg (8.9%)
Italy Sergio Perez (50.6%) Lewis Hamilton (30.0%) Fernando Alonso (10.9%)
Singapore Lewis Hamilton (26.2%) Paul di Resta (25.6%) Sebastian Vettel (18.6%)
Japan Kamui Kobayashi (39.2%) Sebastian Vettel (33.1%) Felipe Massa (16.8%)

Kobayashi became the ninth different winner of the poll this year and Massa made his first appearance in the top three. Vettel made his fifth appearance in the top three but is yet to win outright.

2012 Korean Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend

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2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image ?? Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo