Sebastian Vettel climbed the podium for the fourth time in the championship at the Japanese GP, and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo nabbed fourth position. The race had to be stopped 8 laps early due to a serious accident involving the Marussia driver, Jules Bianchi, who was removed from the track in an ambulance.
The atmosphere in the pit lane was very subdued at the end of the race, with all the teams waiting to hear about Bianchi’s health. From Pepe Jeans we would like to wish him a quick recovery, our main thoughts are with him.
Everything that happened with the racing on track is secondary today, one of us is in a bad shape and we don’t yet know how he is,” said Sebastian. “Jules had a bad accident and we hope to have some very good news, very soon. Not knowing what’s going on feels terrible, I think all the drivers really feel with him, as we know how difficult and slippery it was today; we hope for the very best.”
Right now we’re all thinking about Bianchi and that’s the biggest concern for us. We heard he had a pretty big crash and it’s not nice when we don’t know if the driver is okay. The race was tricky, it wasn’t going too badly and the set-up we had for yesterday paid off. We tried a few different things with the strategy, but Bianchi is my main concern at the moment.”
The race was marked by rain from the start. The approach of Typhoon Phanfone threatened to suspend the race but fortunately the rain eased off a bit. In any case, the drivers had to come out behind the safety car and the race didn’t really get going until after the first few laps. Daniel started from P6 and Sebastian from P9.
Many of the divers changed to intermediate tyres to adapt to the weather conditions. Daniel was first, and then Sebastian, with the Mercedes drivers the last to change their tyres. Button managed to climb up to third position, overtaking Bottas and Massa, while Sebastian got ahead of his teammate Daniel, leaving him behind in sixth position. On lap 16, Sebastian overtook Massa and followed the same strategy a few laps later to overtake Bottas and secure fourth position. Daniel was also able to get past his immediate opponents and was now defending fifth position. Both drivers we trying to overtake Button. At the head of the race, Hamilton was battling it out for first position with his teammate Rosberg. Hamilton finally took the lead on lap 29 and held it until the end of the race.
At this point the drivers had to make a second round of pit stops. Sebastian stopped on lap 29 for more intermediates. He was followed by Button, who took longer than expected as he had to change a wheel. Daniel squeezed his tyres a little bit longer and didn’t stop until lap 36. He came out again behind Sebastian and Button but didn’t take long in overtaking the latter on lap 42.
Meanwhile, Sutil (Sauber) collided with the barriers on the Dunlop Curve. While they were removing his car, Bianchi crashed in the same spot but with worse consequences. The safety car had to come out and, given the magnitude of the accident, it was decided to stop the race.
When a race is stopped by a red flag, the protocol dictates that the race is ended and the drivers classified according to the order in the penultimate lap before the red flag is seen. The classification was in the following order: Hamilton won the race, his teammate Rosberg was right behind him and they were followed up by Sebastian and Daniel in third and fourth place respectively.
Christian Horner summed up the atmosphere of the race at the end of what was a tough day:
First of all, irrelevant of anything else, our thoughts are with Jules Bianchi and that he’s okay; that is the absolute first priority.”
For the race, it was a strong race performance by the team with both drivers making great progress and some fantastic overtaking moves. Third and fourth are competitive results. We looked a lot more competitive in the wet conditions, which tend to be a great equaliser.”
Pepe Jeans would like to join the team´s sincere thank you to Sebastian for the incredible role he has played at Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the last six years and give a warmly welcome to the young Russian driver coming from the Red Bull Junior Programme, Daniil Kvyat that will join Daniel Ricciardo in the 2015.