F1 2011 Japanese Grand Prix: Hamilton fifth as Button wins at Suzuka
PUBLISHED: 08:43 09 October 2011 | UPDATED: 13:44 09 October 2011
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton finished off the podium in the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix as McLaren colleague Jenson Button won around the Suzuka circuit.
The Hertfordshire-born F1 star crossed the finish line fifth in Japan this morning (Sunday) following an incident-packed race.
Button, who started from the front row, took the chequered flag for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – having been shoved onto the grass by pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap.
Button said over the McLaren team radio: “He’s got to get a penalty for that, hasn’t he?”
The German driver escaped punishment though. However, the McLaren man got his revenge by taking Vettel for the lead during the second round of pit stops.
Fernando Alonso claimed second place for Ferrari around the figure-of-eight Suzuka track after pushing Button hard in the final laps.
Red Bull’s reigning world champion Vettel eased off the gas in the closing stages to finish third to clinch the F1 title for the second year running.
Vettel’s Red Bull colleague Mark Webber was fourth, ahead of Hamilton’s McLaren. Michael Schumacher was sixth for Mercedes GP.
The 2008 world champion from Hertfordshire had another frustrating race, having clashed with Ferrari rival Felipe Massa yet again.
Following their Singapore GP spat, the pair touched at the 190mph 130R corner and Massa lost part of his front wing in the collision.
Race stewards investigated the incident but took no further action against Hamilton this time – unlike in Singapore where he was hit with a drive-through penalty.
Starting third on the grid after a mistake in qualifying, Hamilton initially took advantage of Button’s misfortune off the line to slot into second place behind Vettel.
However, Hamilton’s podium hopes were dashed by an early puncture to his right rear tyre that slowed his progress during his opening stint.
Button and Alonso both overtook Hamilton’s McLaren before he could reach the pits for new rubber on lap eight.
After exiting the pitlane, Hamilton was running fourth – with Massa now on his tail.
The pair later collided and the safety car was deployed to allow debris to be cleared from the track at Turn 7.
After the safety car period, Hamilton complained: “I’ve got massive understeer. My wing must be busted.”
However, he was told by the pitwall: “We’ve looked at the data and the pictures and everything looks okay.”
Now down in sixth place, Hamilton chased down Massa and eventually made a clean pass on the Ferrari driver.
He eventually crossed the line fifth and will be looking for a better performance next Sunday in the 2011 Korean Grand Prix.