Japanese Grand Prix review: welcome to the Vettel era

Jenson Button took his third win of the season at this morning’s Japanese Grand Prix, leading home Fernando Alonso and – as if it was ever in doubt – record-breaking double world champion Sebastian Vettel. Though he did well to cover a move from Button off the line, Vettel was eventually leap-frogged after the second round of pit stops, with his Red Bull failing to cope as well as the McLarens and Ferraris with the tyre-punishing twists of Suzuka. Mark Webber finished fourth, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who brought out the safety car on lap 25 following yet another tangle with Felipe Massa, which took a chunk out of the Brazilian’s front wing. Michael Schumacher enjoyed another strong race to finish a solid sixth, while Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg also picked up some points.

So that’s that – Sebastian Vettel is Formula One’s youngest ever double world champion, and the first man to pick up the title with four races to spare since Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Feels sort of anti-climactic, doesn’t it? Given that most of his rivals had given up on the season by the half-way point, they really should’ve handed Vettel the trophy back in Germany. That’s not to say that a dominant, one-sided season can’t be a spectacle – they’ll be talking about that four-hour epic in Canada, if nothing else, for decades to come – it’s just hard to get excited about something that’s looked inevitable for months.

Still, what is exciting is that we now know the identity of this era’s first legendary driver. And, as sick as we are about the fact that he doesn’t have a Union Jack on his helmet, thinking about the lad’s potential is seriously dizzying. Since his debut in 2007, he’s won 19 races, been on pole 27 times and amassed a fortune that doesn’t even bear thinking about – all before his 25th birthday. At Vettel’s age, Ayrton Senna was in his rookie year, and we were still living with our mum.

So, how long can Sebastian Vettel keep on winning? Assuming he’s got another decade of his career left to run, we’d happily put money on another three world titles. It’s unlikely any of them will be as easy as the infamous cakewalk of 2011 but still, we’re going to stick our neck out and say that this young guy from Heppenheim has just put himself in the position to become one of the all-time greats of his sport.

Of course, there’s always the chance he’ll do a Fernando Alonso and spend the next five years getting shown up by the latest rookies. But it’s been a long time since Formula One has had a hero so consistent, so level-headed and so damn fast as Sebastian Vettel, and something tells us that the domination is only just beginning.

What do you reckon? How many more titles can Vettel win? Here’s how they finished:

1. Jenson Button
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. Mark Webber
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. Michael Schumacher
7. Felipe Massa
8. Sergio Perez
9. Vitaly Petrov
10. Nico Rosberg
11. Adrian Sutil
12. Paul Di Resta
13. Kamui Kobayashi
14. Pastor Maldonado
15. Jaime Alguersuari
16. Bruno Senna
17. Rubens Barrichello
18. Heikki Kovalainen
19. Jarno Trulli
20. Timo Glock
21. Jerome d’Ambrosio
22. Daniel Ricciardo
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi
24. Sebastien Buemi (DNF)

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rookie im watching is Senna and diResta.

Lewis would do well in NASCAR, He is aggressive and his GF is loved in America.
I think he would be a better NASCAR or Ralley driver than F1.

Force India dont have Brawn and the money/drivers Mercedes has.

Why is VW/Audi not in F1?

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I think that VW/Audi have seen what happened to Toyota and BMW. Both joined the sport with a hell of a lot of money, produced uncompetitive cars, and then pulled out of the sport after loosing a lot of their money.

Also,VW wouldn’t create an F1 team because the technology they create would not have any use on their road cars. Imaging a Golf with DRS and an off throttle blown diffuser.

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I guess I will be sticking Force India where the sun dont shine now that they’ve been sold. Oh well, there’s still hope that Sauber will get a bit better.

Torro Rosso should keep jamie and sebestian. They are both having good races and bringing in points. If they han’t had a few though races with drivers not finishing (Spa,China,Suzuka)then they would be really challenging Sauber and Force India.

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Audi has a lot of powerful cars which uses most of the technology Ferrari and Lamborghini use in their road cars. Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti are owned by VW.
No reason why VW does not get involved into F1.

Force India is my fav small team. As for big teams i am partial to Ferrari.

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Yes I do think it is about time VW enters F-1.

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I’m more interested in Nissan entering F1. Surely they’d do a good job of it?

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I doubt VW would ever show any interest in F1, it is not representing their average customer or companies philosophy. I would not be surprised to see Audi come along, but they are concentrating on endurance, touring car and prototypes, I guess it is enough for them. Personally I miss Porsche.
@NO TO SKY: it is an urban myth companies are developing technologies for F1 to later use them in road cars. Almost nothing that has been developed for F1 you can find in todays normal road cars and just a little bit in todays super cars.
@formuladude: anyone challenging for at least 10 years??? Within the last 10 years we have seen 3 newcomers becoming world champions, how can you be so sure for the next 10?

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@og_heeren:Thanks for the knowlage about F1 technology in road cars. I still think Red Bull are creating off throttle blown drinks cans though!

I would like to see Koenigsegg in Formula 1 but the chances of that happening are the sam as Lewis Hamilton finishing a race without an incident.(Oooh a Hamilton remark, people arn’t going to like me now!)

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