Ten of the best pictures which tell the story of the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.
Red Bull fans, Thursday
Japan’s F1 fans are famously enthusiastic about the sport. Here’s a pair of Red Bull supporters with home-made headgear.
Pedro de la Rosa, Friday practice
Pedro de la Rosa spent part of his early career racing in Japanese Formula Three and Formula Nippon. He put his Suzuka expertise to good use for HRT, out-qualifying Charles Pic’s Marussia and Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham.
Pastor Maldonado, Friday practice
Pastor Maldonado catches the full glare of the low sun at Suzuka. Unlike in Singapore he didn’t make it to Q3 – let alone the front row of the grid – but he was able to finally claim his first points since winning the Spanish Grand Prix five months ago.
Romain Grosjean, Japanese Grand Prix
It all went disastrously wrong for Romain Grosjean a few minutes after this picture was taken on the grid. He crashed into Mark Webber at turn two, earning a ten-second stop-go penalty from the stewards.
“Since Singapore, I’ve been trying to be really cautious at the starts,” explained Grosjean afterwards, “and it’s been all the more frustrating to be involved in an incident in Japan.”
“When approaching the first corner, I was watching Sergio [Perez] on my left to make sure there was no contact with him. I didn’t expect such a big speed difference between me and Mark braking into the corner, we collided and that was it. It was a stupid mistake.
“Mark came to see me after the race and was obviously not happy, but I apologised and we have to move on. I’ve sat down and looked at things again with the team; for sure it’s still an area we need to improve. We’re clearly focusing on this area for the next races.”
Japanese Grand Prix start
The other Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen was also involved in a controversial collision at the start. Having been squeezed onto the grass by Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen made contact with the rear of the Ferrari, putting Alonso out of the race.
Further ahead Sebastian Vettel has converted pole position into the lead and Kamui Kobayashi has moved up to second place. Grosjean, busy eyeing Perez, is about to run into Webber.
Jean-Eric Vergne, Timo Glock and Paul di Resta, Japanese Grand Prix
Once the mess at the first corner had been cleared up the race restarted. Timo Glock’s Marussia briefly held onto 11th place but he was swiftly passed by those with KERS, including Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul di Resta.
Michael Schumacher, Japanese Grand Prix
Schumacher made his final appearance at a track where he has enjoyed much success in the past, scoring eight pole positions, winning six races and two of his world championship.
Jenson Button, Japanese Grand Prix
Japanophile Jenson Button sported a special helmet with a rising sun motif for this race. However there was to be no repeat of his 2011 win – he lost his grip on a podium finish during the race and came in fourth. He gave the crowd a wave on his way back to the pits.
Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa, Japanese Grand Prix
Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa made timely visits to the podium amid speculation about their futures in F1.
Kobayashi claimed his first podium finish and was cheered to the rafters by his home crowd. Massa ended a 36-race streak without a top-three finish, which may earn him a stay of execution at Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel, Japanese Grand Prix
Vettel was an irresistible force at Suzuka. He took pole position for the fourth time at the circuit and left the opposition behind in the race. He led every lap and claimed the fastest lap on the penultimate tour, sealing his second perfect result in a Grand Prix.
Alonso may still be leading the championship, but the momentum is unmistakeably on Vettel’s side now.
More Japanese Grand Prix pictures
- 2012 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
- 2012 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
- 2012 Japanese Grand Prix practice in 100 pictures
- 2012 Japanese Grand Prix Thursday pictures
Share your Japanese Grand Prix pictures and video
Were you at Suzuka last weekend? Share your pictures and video from the Japanese Grand Prix here:
2012 Japanese Grand Prix
Image © Red Bull/Getty images, HRT, Williams/LAT, Lotus F1 Team/LAT, Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Daimler/Hoch Zwei, McLaren/Hoch Zwei, Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images