Infiniti Red Bull Racing secured a podium in the rain-affected Japanese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel finished in third position, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo fourth. Jean-Eric Vergne put a third Renault-powered car into the points in ninth position, however all results were overshadowed by an incident involving Jules Bianchi.
All at Renault Sport F1 send Jules our best wishes and our thoughts are with him, his family and the team.
Key race points:
The race started under safety car conditions following heavy rain throughout the morning and on the grid. After two laps the race was red flagged, but conditions improved sufficiently by 15:25 local time for the race to be resumed, again behind the safety car. After the safety car withdrew on lap 9 the race ran in wet conditions until it was red flagged on lap 44.
Vettel shadowed the Mercedes pit stop strategy, staying out for an extra lap on the wet tyres after the safety car withdrew. This allowed the reigning world champion to jump ahead of Ricciardo and pursue the two Williams drivers. After two virtuoso moves on consecutive laps Vettel moved ahead of both Massa and Bottas, who were then swiftly passed by Ricciardo. Running fourth and fifth, the pair then hunted down Jenson Button for third, moving ahead when Button pitted. Button briefly got past the pair again, but the positions were regained just before the race was stopped when Button stopped for new tyres.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne finished in ninth position after starting from the rear of the grid. The Frenchman had taken a penalty for strategically introducing a sixth ICE but a strong strategy and racecraft moved him back into the points and proved the success of the plan. Daniil Kvyat had a tougher race, running in the top ten at times, but finished just outside the points in 11th.
Lotus F1 Team cross the line with Romain Grosjean 15th and Pastor Maldonado 16th.
Marcus Ericsson consolidated his strong weekend for Caterham F1 Team by finishing ahead of Max Chilton in 17th. Kamui Kobayashi ended his home Grand Prix in 19th overall.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing consolidates second in the constructors’ championship with Daniel Ricciardo third in the drivers’ race. Sebastian Vettel moves into fourth position.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Track Operations:
First and foremost our thoughts are with Jules Bianchi, his family and his team following the incident at the end of the race.
It was a difficult race for everyone with the evolving track conditions and every team did their best with the information they had at the time. We fought hard all race to extract the maximum from the Power Units across the field. Calculating fuel loads, energy management and settings is extremely difficult in these circumstances, so three cars in the points, with a podium, is a strong result.
We still have a way to go to be at the front on pace, but congratulations to Red Bull for getting a podium and fourth position, and to Toro Rosso. JEV again did extremely well to recover from his engine penalty and score points. It shows that, while the penalties are far from ideal, they are by no means impossible to overcome with the Power Unit we have now.
Lotus and Caterham also had solid weekends so we can go to Russia confident. The track looks like it will suit us so there are a lot of positive items on the job list after this race.