F1: 2009 Japanese GP Makes Championship Race Tighter


58553441After this weekend at Suzuka Raceway in Japan, there are only two races left. Sebastian Vettel, the youngest winner of an F1 race ever, has narrowed the lead in the Drivers Championship and the Constructors Championship with a commanding win from the pole position. But how many more points do Vettel and Red Bull need to catch the three B’s of Button Barichello and Brawn? 

Here’s how the grid looked:

1st row:
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Jarno Trulli (ITA/Toyota)

2nd row:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Nick Heidfeld (GER/BMW-Sauber)

3rd row:
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Brawn-Mercedes) (**)

4th row:
Nico Rosberg (GER/Williams-Toyota)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes) (**)

5th row:
Robert Kubica (POL/BMW-Sauber)
Jenson Button (GBR/Brawn-Mercedes) (**)

6th row:
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/McLaren-Mercedes) (*)
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

7th row:
Sebastien Buemi (SUI/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) (***)
Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA/Ferrari)

8th row:
Kazuki Nakajima (JPN/Williams-Toyota)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Renault) (**)

9th row:
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Renault)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA/Force India-Mercedes) (*)

Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)

(*) Five position gearbox change penalty
(**) Penalised for failing to slow under caution
(***) Penalised for blocking.

And here were the final standings:

P. Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:28:20.443
2 Jarno Trulli Toyota 4.877
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 6.472
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 7.940
5 Nico Rosberg Williams 8.793
6 Nick Heidfeld BMW 9.509
7 Rubens Barrichello Brawn 10.641
8 Jenson Button Brawn 11.474
9 Robert Kubica BMW 11.777
10 Fernando Alonso Renault 13.065
11 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren 13.735
12 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 14.596
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 14.959
15 Kazuki Nakajima Williams 17.973
16 Romain Grosjean Renault at 1 lap
17 Mark Webber Red Bull at 2 laps
18 Alguersuari Jaime Toro Rosso out
19 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso out

This means that in the Drivers Championship, Button is now 14 points clear of teammate Rubens Barichello and 16 points clear of the surging Vettel. In the Constructors Championship, Brawn is 35.5 points ahead of Red Bull. Not sure how anyone gets a half-point, but I don’t really care either.

Short of a Hamilton-in-2007-esque collapse in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, it looks like Brawn’s early domination of the season will be enough to secure both Championships. But with the 2009 season going the way it is, never say “never”.

Also, be sure to check out the always entertaining driver’s quotes from this week.

[Photo credits: Mark Thompson/Getty Images and F1-Live.com]