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LIVE UPDATES: Japanese F1 Grand Prix Photo:
 
 
Mike Stevens | Oct, 04 2009 | 0 Comments

VETTEL WINS, Trulli second, Hamilton third. The live updates, posted during the race, of the closing two laps follows:

5.29pm - Two laps to go. Vettel still ahead. Trulli second, Hamilton third. Webber looking quick; best time through first sector.

5.31pm - Webber! The Australian sets the fastest lap 1:32.569, the second of his career. Pads out his career statistics nicely.5.32pm - But it's Vettel for win number three of the season, and fourth of his short career. Trulli second at Toyota's home race, and Hamilton third.

5.35pm - Raikkonen takes fourth then its Rosberg, Heidfeld, Barrichello and Button.

5.37pm - Standings update - Drivers: Button 85, Barrichello 71, Vettel 69. Constructors: Brawn GP 156, Red Bull Racing 120.5

5.39pm - Vettel now 16 points behind Button while Barrichello sits only 14 points adrift. Can either Vettel or Barrichello emulate the feats of Raikkonen in 2007?

HOW IT ALL UNFOLDED: TMR's lap by lap account of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix:

After a chaotic qualifying session, German star Sebastian Vettel emerged to take pole position, his fourth of the season, raising hopes Red Bull Racing can end its form slump and return to the winner's list.Vettel, primed for the race win, is more heavily-fuelled than his nearest rivals on the grid.

He will need to be wary though of the KERS-equipped McLaren of Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who are capable of leaping into the lead at Suzuka's complicated and lightning-quick first sector complex.

Championship leader Jenson Button entered the weekend focused on closing out the Championship title. Unfortunately, after speeding past yellow flags, he, along with Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso and Adrian Sutil received a five-grid place penalty.

This will now see him starting the race from 10th and Barrichello 6th (the Brazilian only dropped one place on the grid despite a five place penalty as a result of a quirk in the rules), and has likely derailed the Brit's hopes of securing a debut world crown this weekend.

Australia's Mark Webber will start from pit lane. A massive shunt in qualifying left his car in a very bad state and unable to compete for a position on the grid.

The race

3.50pm - Hi all, and welcome to The Motor Report's coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. We are set for a dry race with a forecast temperature of 23 degrees Celsius greeting the drivers on the grid.

Today's race marks the return of the Japanese GP to Suzuka after a three-year stint at Fuji, and the return has been warmly welcomed by the F1 paddock.

The Suzuka circuit has been the stage for many of Formula One's memorable moments in the past, from the stunning duals of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna in 1989 and 1990 to Fernando Alonso's breathtaking pass on Michael Schumacher at 130R in 2006, confirming the Spaniard's status as a potential all-time great.

The Japanese GP will take place over 53 laps of the 5.807 kilometre circuit.

3.51pm - Following qualifying yesterday, the grid underwent a massive reshuffle with no fewer than seven drivers receiving penalties for reasons varying from a gearbox change to speeding past a yellow flag. This is how the drivers will start, and their fuel weights.

1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 658.5kg

2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 655.5

3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 656

4. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 660

5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 661

6. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP, 660.5

7. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 684.5

8. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 650

9. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 686

10. Jenson Button, Brawn GP, 658.5

11. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 675

12. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, 682.5

13. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 665.4

14. Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari, 661.5

15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 695.7

16. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 689.5

17. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 691.8

18. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 682.5

19. Mark Webber, Red Bull, n/a

3.56pm - To recap the championship scenario, Button needs to finish five points ahead of Barrichello to wrap up the driver's title, a difficult proposition from 10th on the grid.

Drivers Standings: Button 84, Barrichello 69. Vettel 59, Webber 51.5, Raikkonen 40

Constructors Standings: Brawn GP 153, Red Bull Racing 110.5, Ferrari 63, McLaren 59, Toyota 46.5

4.00pm - The cars are off on their warm-up. Can we expect opening lap fireworks? Will Hamilton jump Vettel? Can Webber scythe through the grid?

4.03pm - And we are off!

4.05pm - A Toro Rosso has stalled on the grid - Buemi, but the start is clean. Hamilton up to 2nd behind Vettel. Trulli down to third and Heidfeld in 4th.

4.05pm - Webber in the pits for a tyre change. Button still stuck midfield, Vettel flying, two seconds clear of Hamilton.

4.08pm - Vettel fastest lap - 1:33.949. Webber stuck in the pits again for a second time. Problem with his head rest. Button up to 10th past Kubica. Can he close the gap to Barrichello in sixth?

4.10pm - Hamilton starting to find his pace, setting the fastest lap, but Vettel immediately takes half a second out in the opening sector of the following lap! Extraordinary!

4.12pm - Webber pits again. Nothing more than a testing session for the Australian now.

4.13pm - Lap 7 - Vettel now 2.9 seconds clear of Hamilton. Trulli 3rd, with Heidfeld and Raikkonen close behind. In the championship race, Barrichello 6th, Button 10th.

4.15pm - Vettel has certainly found his rhythm, setting fastest sector after fastest sector. Button appearing to struggle.

4.16pm - Trulli starting to build lead on Heidfeld - nearly five seconds. A podium at home for Toyota may be enough to persuade management to go round again next year.

4.21pm - Sutil and Button stuck behind Kovalainen, who is now 5.8 seconds down on Rosberg on lap 11. Front runners to pit soon.

4.22pm - First retirement would appear to be Buemi. He has parked it in the garage. Vettel now five seconds clear. Sutil to pit soon and unleash Button on Kovalainen.

4.23pm - Vettel, Hamilton and Trulli charging clear. And drama! Sutil tries to pass down the inside of Kovalainen heading into the final corner, forcing Finn onto grass then spins! Button through into 8th. Lucky break for the Briton.

4.26pm - Button now immediately on the pace of the front runners, setting a 1:33.8. Hamilton has pitted from second, lap 15.

4.28pm - After dramatic qualifying session, the race has been rather tame so far. For those unaware, Glock has been sidelined with a cut to his lower leg. He hopes to be back for Brazil.

4.29pm - Trulli also has pitted. Vettel surely has the race sown up, even at this early stage - lap 17. Sets race best in the first sector. Prepared to be proven wrong however.

4.31pm - Vettel is in. Has run two laps longer than nearest rivals. Long stop though. Over 12 seconds.

4.33pm - More than half the grid has pitted. Alguersuari, Alonso, Kovalainen, Nakajima, Grosjean, Liuzzi seemingly on one stop strategy. Lap 20.

4.35pm - Rosberg temporarily in second, challenging Vettel, with Hamilton lurking close behind. Trulli two seconds behind Hamilton on lap 21. Over a third race distance.

4.39pm - For all trivia buffs. Suzuka the only F1 circuit to feature a figure eight.

4.41pm - Barrichello has fallen six seconds behind Raikkonen. Hopes for a podium all but gone. Surely. Currently sitting eighth.

4.43pm - Poor Mark Webber sitting at rear of field. Amazing to consider the Australian was in contention for the world championship midway through the season and was second favourite with the bookies.

4.45pm - Interesting battle between Alonso, Nakajima and Button midfield. All have only one stop remaining. Button will be forced to head to Brazil to tie up the title.

4.47pm - Vettel still cruising, although not as comfortably as expected on lap 28. 5.3 seconds clear of Hamilton.

4.49pm - Grosjean has an off-track excursion, allowing Sutil through. Force India had hopes of a points finish this weekend, but the German is currently sitting 13th.

4.51pm - Vettel really flying. Sets fastest lap 1:33.052 on lap 30. Over six seconds clear of Hamilton now.

4.53pm - Webber sets a personal best. Barrichello up into sixth but now lagging more than 13 seconds behind Raikkonen. Nakajima being harassed by Liuzzi.

With Toyota and Williams to end their partnership next season, the Japanese driver's seat is in serious doubt. GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg expected to be his replacement with Barrichello and Rosberg to swap seats.

4.55pm - Raikkonen sets fastest lap to defy claims of doomsayers who declared Ferrari would be well off the pace this weekend. 1:32.999. Team radio urges Raikkonen to push to jump Heidfeld into fourth. Lap 34.

4.58pm - Button closing in on Rosberg. Trulli really pressuring Hamilton now, cuts gap to 3.1 seconds. Vettel still comfortably leading the race. Conversely, Webber pits from last. Raikkonen also pits. Kovalainen sets personal best. 1:33.8.

5.00pm - Brawn GP looking to close out the constructor's title this weekend. 42.5 points clear of Red Bull and if they hold their current positions, it will be enough for the debutants.

5.02pm - Trulli sets personal best lap as he attempts to leap past Hamilton, who has made his final stop.

5.04pm - Hamilton nearly 22 seconds down on Trulli. Will it be enough for the Toyota to claim second?

5.05pm - It is! Trulli pits and emerges ahead of Hamilton. 14 laps remaining. Heidfeld meanwhile has dropped to ninth, behind Kubica who made a pass on his team mate. Barrichello up to fourth, Button sixth. Vettel has minor drama in pit lane but is still ahead.

5.08pm - Vettel, Trulli and Hamilton, the top three with 12 laps to go. Vettel has claimed three career victories so far, all from pole position. Monza '08, China '09 and Britain '09. Can he add Japan '09? Looking likely.

5.11pm - Vettel sets fastest lap. 1:32.572. Button back to eighth after all the stops and the standings have settled. Rosberg in fourth.

5.13pm - Trulli leads Hamilton by 4.2 seconds. Toyota on course for back-to-back podiums. Ignoring the middle stint of the season, the Japanese outfit has been rather strong.

5.15pm - Drama! Safety car out after rookie Alguersuari has massive shunt at turn 15. Radios that he is okay, but there is debris everywhere.

5.18pm - The grid bunches together behind safety car. Six laps remaining. Can Vettel hold on at the restart? This race certainly got interesting.

5.19pm - Under the medals system proposed by Bernie Ecclestone, Button would have wrapped up the title already. But under the current system, three drivers are still in contention with two races remaining after Suzuka today.

5.22pm - While most have written off Vettel's chances of winning the title, Raikkonen overcame a 17 point deficit with two races remaining to claim the most unlikely of World Championship's in 2007. Safety car in with four laps to go.

5.25pm - And we're off for a four lap sprint to the finish. Raikkonen looks down the inside of Hamilton who appears to be suffering technical problems.

5.27pm - Barrichello seventh, Button eighth. Brawn GP cannot secure the Constructor's title this weekend. Kubica keen on making problems worse by pressuring Button around hairpin.

5.29pm - Two laps to go. Vettel still ahead. Trulli second, Hamilton third. Webber looking quick. Race best through first sector.

5.31pm - Webber! The Australian sets the fastest lap 1:32.569, the second of his career. Pads out his career statistics nicely.

5.32pm - But it's Vettel for win number three of the season, and fourth of his short career. Trulli second at Toyota's home race, and Hamilton third.

5.35pm - Raikkonen takes fourth then its Rosberg, Heidfeld, Barrichello and Button.

5.37pm - Standings update - Drivers: Button 85, Barrichello 71, Vettel 69. Constructors: Brawn GP 156, Red Bull Racing 120.5

5.39pm - Vettel now 16 points behind Button while Barrichello sits only 14 points adrift. Can either Vettel or Barrichello emulate the feats of Raikkonen in 2007?

5.40pm - The F1 circus moves to Brazil in two weeks time. Join us as The Motor Report again brings coverage of the number one motorsport category in the world.

 
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