F1 2013 Japanese Grand Prix: ‘Gutted’ Hamilton retires

PUBLISHED: 13:27 13 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:28 13 October 2013

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton on track at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton on track at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

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FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix after clipping Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull car on the opening lap at Suzuka.

2013 Japanese Grand Prix result

Result from Suzuka

1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

2 Mark Webber (Red Bull)

3 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)

4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

5 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)

6 Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber)

7 Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber)

8 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

9 Jenson Button (McLaren)

10 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

The 28-year-old Mercedes F1 star from Hertfordshire retired after seven laps, having suffered a right-rear tyre puncture following contact with Vettel on the run to turn one.

The damage caused by the lap returning to the pit meant the Mercedes team retired the car after seven laps.

FIA world championship leader Vettel went on to take the chequered flag for his fifth win in a row, with Red Bull colleague Mark Webber second and on-song Lotus star Romain Grosjean third.

Ferrari superstar Fernando Alonso finished just off the podium in fourth place, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth in the other Lotus.

Formula One star Lewis Hamilton talks to the press at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Formula One star Lewis Hamilton talks to the press at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Having started third on the Suzuka grid, Stevenage-born Hamilton was disappointed how his race ended prematurely.

Explaining what happened on the opening lap, the 2008 F1 world champion said: “I got a fantastic start this afternoon, better than both Red Bulls for probably the first time this year.

“Mark [Webber] moved right, so I had to move as well, which sandwiched Sebastian [Vettel] between me and Romain [Grosjean].

“Seb’s front wing clipped my right rear, cut the tyre and that was that. It wasn’t his fault at all, just one of those things that wasn’t meant to be this afternoon.”

"Seb’s front wing clipped my right rear, cut the tyre and that was that."

Lewis Hamilton after the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Hamilton added: “I feel most gutted for the team – the guys here at the track and in the factory – because they are doing an amazing job right now and we’re just not getting the reward for it.”

With Nico Rosberg finishing only eighth, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn admitted it was a “frustrating” day for the Silver Arrows in Japan.

Brawn said: “A tough afternoon for us which was made more frustrating by the fact that we had a good car today and unfortunately did not get the opportunity to demonstrate that.

“Our lap times were pretty competitive and the tyre durability was good but for various reasons, we weren’t able to race well.

Lewis Hamilton and Ross Brawn at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton and Ross Brawn at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“We suffered a puncture with Lewis off the line and, whilst he managed to recover to the pits, the damage subsequently proved too great to continue.”

Further explaining Hamilton’s misfortune, Mercedes director Toto Wolff added: “That was a character-building afternoon for our team.

“Lewis suffered an unfortunate racing incident on the run down to turn one and had to complete an entire lap with a punctured right-rear tyre.

“That seriously damaged the underfloor of the car and it became clear soon after he went back out that the rear brake temperatures were climbing and the car pulling to the right. So the only sensible precaution was to retire the car after seven laps.”

F1 FIA 2013 World Drivers’ Championship standings

After 2013 Japanese Grand Prix:

1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 297 points

2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 207

3 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 177

4 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 161

5 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 148

A challenging race in Japan saw Hamilton’s Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg finish in eighth position.

Rosberg made his first pit stop on lap 12 and was subsequently given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release. He served this on lap 16, suffering a time loss of around 20 seconds in the process.

The Mercedes driver made two further stops, on laps 24 and 39, running option/prime/option/prime on his way to eighth place behind the Saubers of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez.

Rosberg said: “I made a good start today [Sunday] and was in a strong position until my first pit stop. Unfortunately we then had the incident as I left the pit box which ultimately cost me a top position.

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“We will analyse internally with the team what went wrong but it was immediately clear that we would get a penalty.

“After that, we switched to a three-stop strategy and that worked out as well as it could for us.”

Rosberg wasn’t happy at the way Mexican McLaren driver Sergio Perez held him up either.

The German Mercedes driver said: “I was able to do some good overtaking manoeuvres, although I wasn’t happy with Perez as the rules are clear; you can defend once and close the door but you can’t switch sides again.

F1 World Constructors’ Championship

After 2013 Japanese Grand Prix round 15:

1 Red Bull 445 points

2 Ferrari 297

3 Mercedes 287

4 Lotus 264

5 McLaren 83

“Trying to overtake the Sauber at the end was very tough and while it’s difficult to be satisfied with eighth place given our potential, at least we were able to salvage some points.”

On Rosberg’s disastrous first stop, and subsequent drive-through penalty, Mercedes supremo Brawn said: “We’re normally a pretty reliable team in the pits and I don’t fully understand what happened yet but we will investigate and take any necessary actions.”

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff felt Rosberg “recovered well” to finish in eighth position and salvage four points for the team.

That was still better than Hamilton’s former McLaren teammate Jenson Button, who crossed the line ninth.

Mercedes' Toto Wolff at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Mercedes' Toto Wolff at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Talking about his Japanese experience, Button said: “The first two stints of the race were pretty difficult as I had massive understeer.

“That was my fault: on the lap-to-grid, it felt like I had too much front-end, so I took some wing out of the car. It was the wrong thing to do, it left me with too much understeer, and I kept locking up the fronts, which destroyed the front tyres.

“For the third set, we added some front-wing, and the balance came back to me. In the end, the car was really good to drive, especially my final stint on the Option tyre, which was a lot of fun, especially as I was able to chase down and pass a couple of other cars.

“In the closing laps, I made a great move on Paul [di Resta] around the outside of the chicane. I made the same move on Felipe [Massa] too, but he forced me over the kerb, so I ended up getting him on the straight.

“So it was an enjoyable end to the race, but a disappointing beginning.”

Button’s McLaren partner ‘Checo’ Perez started 11th and dropped back four places during the race to finish 15th.

Perez said: “It was a very unfortunate afternoon for us. I had such bad luck – things just didn’t go our way today. In fact, I think you could say that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

“We had an incident with Nico [Rosberg] in the pitlane, some slow pitstops, and then another incident with Nico, which caused me to suffer a puncture – luckily, however, right at the entrance of the pitlane.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Checo made an excellent start, moving from P11 on the grid to P8 at the end of lap one, and was able to keep pace with all but the three front-runners throughout his first stint.

“Unfortunately, his first tyre stop was compromised by the unsafe release of Nico’s Mercedes, causing him [ie, Checo] to emerge behind Esteban’s [Gutierrez] Sauber, behind which he lost a lot of time throughout his second stint, unable to overtake despite making plenty of brave attempts to do so.

“Then, in his third stint, Checo suffered a left-rear puncture, also ironically in an incident with Nico, which necessitated an extra unscheduled pitstop that put him out of contention for a points-scoring finish.”


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