Kobayashi edges Vettel for top Japanese GP driver

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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Kamui Kobayashi’s maiden podium appearance in the Japanese Grand Prix elevated him to the top of the Driver of the Weekend poll.

Kobayashi netted 39% of the vote putting him just ahead of race-winner Sebastian Vettel on 33%.

Felipe Massa made his first appearance in the Driver of the Weekend top three after finishing second for Ferrari.

Driver of the Japanese Grand Prix Weekend poll ?ǣ top three

1. Kamui Kobayashi ?ǣ 39.2%
2. Sebastian Vettel ?ǣ 33.1%
3. Felipe Massa ?ǣ 16.8%

Kamui Kobayashi

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2012Started: 3rd
Finished: 3rd

Kamui Kobayashi enjoyed a perfect weekend in front of his home fans, starting with a third place on the grid and finishing the race in the same position. It was a timely performance from the Sauber driver, coming amid doubts over his future in F1.

He beat Mark Webber to turn one but was overhauled by Massa during the pit stops. Late in the race he resisted growing pressure from Jenson Button to claim the first podium of his career.

The statistics tell me I should vote for Vettel with his fast practice sessions, qualifying on pole, getting the fastest lap and winning the race, but I?m going to vote for Kamui Kobayashi because he drove exceptionally well in a merely decent car and withstood the pressure from the very quick McLaren of Button to keep the podium position he so deserved.

It was Kobayashi?s first podium in a race where he could show not just his speed, but defensive and tyre management skills, under the expectant eyes of his Japanese fans. He withstood the pressure and got the podium he deserves, and my vote.

Had to vote for Kobayashi. He?s a top driver. Like I said in previous posts, I had the privilege of seeing these guys in lower formula racing here in Macau. Kobayashi has “it”. completely outclassed everyone in this demanding city circuit when he raced here, even though he didn?t won the Sunday?s race (won the Saturday one, though).

Back to Suzuka, Lets not forget he qualified in fourth but had to reduce pace due to yellow flags. He completely outclassed Sergio Perez (the guy with my name). The race was flawless. Hope to see him in a bigger team.
Sergio Perez

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2012Started: 1st
Finished: 1st

What is it about Vettel and Suzuka? His record now stands at four pole positions and three wins in four years.

The Red Bull driver dominated the weekend, scoring pole position, and setting fastest lap on his way to victory. He also led every single lap on Sunday, which meant he completed his second grand slam.

The ??best? driver of the weekend is Sebastian Vettel. His qualifying performance was stunning, and after the restart he led comfortably, winning with the biggest margin this year.

Vettel. As simple as that. Pole, fastest lap and victory.
Pedro Costa

Frankly, you can?t do any more than put the car on pole, lead every lap, set the fastest lap and cross the line first. So Vettel from me, because even though he is not my favourite driver, the poll is for what you do in the car, and I don?t see how his performance could have been any more perfect.

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2012Started: 10th
Finished: 2nd

The Ferrari driver’s weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts as he failed to reach Q3 for the tenth time this season.

But a series of crashes at the first corner promoted him to fourth by the end of lap one. From there he got ahead of Button and Kobayashi during the pit stops to end his near-two year wait for a podium.

Massa was very fast in qualifying but unlucky in Q2. He avoided everyone and became fourth on lap one, and by pushing very hard he overtook two cars in the pits.

Then he kept going for most of the time on Vettel?s lap times despite an inferior car. The result is great as it comes after a long period of bad luck/results, not because of the result itself.

He drove a great race (as he has done whenever Alonso isn?t in it) and he?d have been in contention has he made it out of Q2, but he didn?t. A good effort, especially with his contract undoubtedly being under pressure, I hope he can show more of it this year ?ǣ who knows Ferrari might even catch McLaren in the constructors’ championship if he does!

I have to say that even though Kobayashi deserves a big shout out for what he did, I had to put my vote to Massa. He either had to make this drive or it was almost certain his career was over.

2012 Driver of the Weekend results so far

AustraliaJenson Button (43.6%)Fernando Alonso (21.1%)Sergio Perez (8.2%)
MalaysiaSergio Perez (61.4%)Fernando Alonso (28.1%)Bruno Senna (3.7%)
ChinaNico Rosberg (69.1%)Lewis Hamilton (10.0%)Jenson Button (6.4%)
BahrainKimi Raikkonen (56.3%)Sebastian Vettel (19.3%)Paul di Resta (10.6%)
SpainPastor Maldonado (56.8%)Lewis Hamilton (27.5%)Fernando Alonso (6.4%)
MonacoMark Webber (32.6%)Heikki Kovalainen (20.2%)Fernando Alonso (14.2%)
CanadaLewis Hamilton (58.7%)Sergio Perez (19.1%)Romain Grosjean (15.3%)
EuropeFernando Alonso (51.7%)Sebastian Vettel (18.4%)Michael Schumacher (8.9%)
Great BritainMark Webber (50.1%)Fernando Alonso (18.7%)Romain Grosjean (17.3%)
GermanyFernando Alonso (62.4%)Jenson Button (12.5%)Kamui Kobayashi (8.7%)
HungaryLewis Hamilton (55.2%)Kimi Raikkonen (30.1%)Bruno Senna (5.5%)
BelgiumJenson Button (52.7%)Sebastian Vettel (20.5%)Nico Hulkenberg (8.9%)
ItalySergio Perez (50.6%)Lewis Hamilton (30.0%)Fernando Alonso (10.9%)
SingaporeLewis Hamilton (26.2%)Paul di Resta (25.6%)Sebastian Vettel (18.6%)
JapanKamui Kobayashi (39.2%)Sebastian Vettel (33.1%) Felipe Massa (16.8%)

Kobayashi became the ninth different winner of the poll this year and Massa made his first appearance in the top three. Vettel made his fifth appearance in the top three but is yet to win outright.

2012 Korean Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend

Voting is still open in the most recent Driver of the Weekend poll so add your vote here:

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

    Browse all 2012 Japanese Grand Prix articles

    Image ?? Sauber F1 Team, Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

    56 comments on “Kobayashi edges Vettel for top Japanese GP driver”

    1. A prescient comment from @Bosyber there!

      1. Though to be sure I hadn’t expected it to be this quick @keithcollantine! Guess I underestimated McLaren’s abilities a tad :)

        1. Wouldn’t that be over-estimated?

          1. Unless it was that he underestimated McLaren’s ability to cause problems.

    2. I personally think that Vettel should’ve won this one – after all he did achieve the Grand Chelem. A faultless performance the whole weekend.

      1. My opinion is that the best driver is more than statistics. While Seb’s drive was great, it ultimately lacked an enthralling story to make it memorable. Kobi had his best pole ever, a great and challenging race with a nail biting finish. It will be memorable for years to come – that is the difference.

        1. @obi-spa-kenobi

          So how was Button’s win at Spa memorable?

          1. What’s your point? We’re talking about Suzuka.

        2. its memorable because he can’t achieve that level consistantly, so it stands out. With Vettel, it was just more of the same- his performance wasn’t an anomaly compared to his career performances.

    3. It’s strange that the current leading driver’s never been in 1st position for a single time this season so far. Look like people rate his achievement is more down to the car (or luck) rather than his talent.

      1. @ka12 – precisely, his Bahrain win almost certainly wasn’t down to the car, in fact the Lotus was much quicker on race pace. Maybe it’s just bad luck for Vettel though that usually there is a surprise whilst he is cruising to victory (such as Kobayashi on the podium).

        1. his Bahrain win almost certainly wasn’t down to the ca

          it was down to the “hole” in the floor

          1. haha,… the car is legal when FIA decide it legal. That RBR can find something extra (from same set of reguration) should be admired not jealous.
            one more thing, that Seb has a dominant car to drive is not by chance, there should be his hidden affords in developing it (together with the engineers) which we don’t know…

            1. i did not say the car was not illegal i said indirectly it was down to the car

              that Seb has a dominant car to drive is not by chance, there should be his hidden affords in developing it

              giving valuable feedback to the engineers is very tough work how about developing a car Aero cfd simulation composite stress electronics………………..
              So why they are paying Millions to Adrian Newey when they have Vettel
              First it was all down to his drive & now it’s also down to his development skills i don’t know what Vettel’s fan will said the next time

            2. @ka12 Vettel at the begging of the season was unhappy with the car at the point he wanted to switch to an older spec car. Red Bull continued with their direction though and look how good they are at this point. Vettel is a brilliant driver, but not a “developer”. But nowadays I think no driver can claim to be a developer because of the current rules where no testing is allowed. It is sad to me, because we never gonna see this part of the drivers.

            3. @caci99 and tifoso: yah you are right. I just raise an idea of driver development skill, because in F1 I think a diver is not just the one who drives, but also involve in developing his car in some ways which I don’t know. That is why he has a better result even compare to his teammate.

          2. @tifoso1989 The hole was there in Monaco as well

          3. @tifoso1989 – So a very minor performance gaining innovation was the only factor in allowing him to take the chequered flag? I doubt that. As I said, the Black & Gold cars were clearly faster on race pace, and other cars wer quicker in qualifying (such as the Mercedes) but Vettel beat them with some superb driving, the driving skill of a defending world champion.

            How is it so you assume that Vettel got to drive one of Neweys’ creations? Simply, because he is a world class driver. Remember his giant-killing performances for Toro Rosso which allowed him to be promoted to the Red Bull race seat? If it was just down to the car why did Jenson Button come second in the WDC last year, ahead of Webber? Don’t dismiss Vettel’s achievements as down to the car, that’s just as ridiculous as saying Alonso is an average driver because the Renault he was driving was the quickest car when he won his championships, or Senna is an average driver because his McLaren was the quickest car, or Schumacher is an average driver because his Ferrari was the quickest car…the list goes on.

            1. That’s not what the comment above said though to be fair. The comment above is hinting that Vettel has some great development skill working in tandem with Newey, which is nonsense.

              He sat in a great car from the start in 2009 and Newey has continued to interpret the regulations better than anyone else over the last 4 seasons. Vettel has driven great and got the most out of the EBD to be dominant when Webber couldn’t, but drivers have minimal say in designing and developing a car so to give Vettel extra credit as though he personally refined the system is incorrect in my opinion.

              By all means though, give him lots of credit for trouncing his team mate, I mean he took 11 wins and Webber only 1 and he probably only got that because of the problem on Vettel’s car so I agree to suggest Vettel’s driving was not superb in 2010 and 2011 is ridiculous.

              The lack of in season testing means now you can’t do what Schumacher did at Ferrari and just relentlessly test and gradually improve. If you want a prime example look not to cars but motorbikes and Valentino Rossi’s performance over the last two years, a man fabled as a great development rider who has got basically nowhere because there is something fundamentally wrong with the bike.

          4. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            19th October 2012, 15:31

            Yes, @tifoso1989 , the hole of the car, but surprisingly Alonso won DOTW in Europe when his victory was down to an alternator problem in 2 cars.

      2. Barring a shocker, though, it looks like that is set to change for Korea.

    4. I am not a Vettel fan at all, but what he showed in Japan was simply incredible. He took pole position, he comfortably led the race for every single lap, and just for the sake of it (sake – get it?) set fastest lap on the penultimate lap. I asked it two weeks ago, and I will ask it again: why do 67% of you regard a perfect race not as the best drive that weekend?

      I can see why it was tempting to vote for Kobayashi: a fan favorite, never been on the podium before, and then he finally achieves this feat for home crowd. The Japanese fans go wild and start chanting his name after the race, and then Kobi, humble as ever, starts translating some stuff on the podium! He gets the emotional vote for sure.

      I remember asking why his performance was that great this weekend – Perez did the same thing a number of times this season, right? Can somebody convince me why Kobayashi’s driving was so amazing this weekend that he deserves the prestigious honour of become F1 Fanatic’s driver of the weekend over a man that drove a perfect race?

      1. Vettel did deserve to win the poll, but Kobayashi also deserved to win it. Yes Vettel had a perfect race, but Kobayashi also drove very well all weekend, but he doesn’t have the car to drive a perfect race. Both Kobayashi and Vettel drove as well as they could all weekend, this poll was always going to be between these two drivers and it just turned out the Kobayashi won. Just because a driver wins from pole doesn’t mean everyone else who had a good weekend shouldn’t be considered to win this poll.

        I’d say Kobayashi deserves to win this poll more than Perez did when he got his podiums because Perez got his podiums after qualifying poorly.

        1. @slr – undoubtably Kobayashi’s qualifying performance was aided somewhat by the safety car however, and his race position aided somewhat by Button’s grid penalty and Webber’s early spin, putting him well out of position 20 secs behind last.

          Credit to him, he drove a great race, but driver of the weekend? No, that is Vettel’s rightful crown. Quite simply, he was untouchable all weekend: setting one lap in each qualifying session and still comfortably getting pole position, great start, led every lap and set the fastest lap of the race by quite some margin. When a driver can set fastest laps on demand you know he dominated.

          1. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
            19th October 2012, 12:30

            @vettel1 – I agree. I can’t help but feel Vettel isn’t getting as much credit as he deserves. He’s had some superb drives this season(Belgium 2012 comes to mind), but has yet to win the poll. A grand chelem is no easy feat, even with the fastest car on the grid.

            People think that “any driver with the fastest car on the grid is magically granted effortless pole positions and wins”. If that were true (it’s not), why hasn’t Mark Webber matched Vettel’s dominating performances? (And please, none of that “Webber gets an inferior car due to Vettel favoritism” conspiracy theories.)

            I’m not saying that the pace of the car isn’t a factor. I’m trying to say that Vettel still puts in a whole lot of effort to get those results, and the poll results don’t seem to reflect an understanding of that.

            1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
              19th October 2012, 15:38

              Give a Ferrari winner car (Raikkonen 2009) to Fisichella and Badoer and they are dust.

              I agree @vettel1 @bobthevulcan people tend to dismiss Vettel automatically. It’s so BAD for this poll just to see how a Grand Chelem is taken down just for jealousy or envy, or blind eyes

            2. @bobthevulcan – exactly, and I explain this regularly those people who dismiss his talent for driving as “having a good car”. Nobody can win championships driving a car incapable of challenging for victories, which reflects in the statistics: the lowest number of wins for a world champion is one.

              The kid can drive, that is the reason why he is driving for perhaps the best team on ten grid currently. I don’t see Alguersuari or Buemi driving for Red Bull, precisely because they just weren’t quick enough. Vettel was.

              Very few drivers have achieved the Grand Chelem, and it is no coincidence that some of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport are included in that exclusive club: Jim Clark (8), Alberto Ascari (5), Michael Schumacher (5), Jackie Stewart (4), Ayrton Senna (4), Juan Manuel Fangio (2) and of course Vettel (2).

            3. Eh, I try to look at it this way: winning championships is the best revenge (and 0 championship points are awarded for winning the F1 Fanatic Driver of the Weekend poll). :-)

            4. I agree @aka_robyn , a third title would mean more than winning DOTW :)

            5. I see it as ‘the best driver ends up in the best car’

      2. In retrospect, with Webber eliminated from the race and him gaining a position at the start, he actually lost a place throughout the course of the race. Vettel lost no places, even through the pit stop phases. If anything, going by the logic of “Vettel’s win was solely because of the car” (something I strongly disagree with), then Massa should’ve been driver of the day, not Kobayashi.

        But I agree with you entirely, Vettel drove the perfect weekend, everything went absolutely perfectly and he dominated the opposition. Perhaps the realisation that Alonso had crashed out gave him extra motive to trounce everyone?

      3. The integrity of the prestigious honour of become F1 Fanatic’s “Driver of the Weekend” is a wash. Seriously.
        Would it be out of the question to rename the “Driver of the Weekend” to “Driver of the Weekend Excluding Vettel Because We Don’t Like Him Here At F1 Fanatic””

        1. If it wasn’t out of the question for obvious reasons, this would also suffice:

          Sebastian Vettel voted F1 Fanatic Driver of the Year

          1. Good point Keith, but really if anyone else was voted driver of the year the people that voted for them would have to have been seriously delusional. He was without doubt the best driver last year.

        2. Sorry, but thats Rubbish. If he really was hated so much he wouldn’t even have come 2nd in the pole. I’m not a Vettel, Alonso or really a Hamilton fan.. And I always admit when they’re untouchable. Some just look at the result and say well he was fastest and won easily case closed.. Others (like myself) look at the performance based on what the car they’re driving is capable of, expectation and pressure. This is why i feel Kobayashi performed the best. I would love to see the likes of Kobayashi in the best car with a team mate like Vettel. I think he’d do a better job than Webber personally.

      4. @aka_robyn – good point, Vettel can rub it in Kobayashi’s face if he wins the championship because of Japan! I’m sure he’d rather win the title of the worlds’ best racing driver over driver of the weekend, no matter how prestigious the award is!

        1. The DotW award holds no value whatsoever so yeah, no driver could care less about the results.

          It’s just a shame that some will undoubtedly start using these (fixed) results to ‘prove’ Vettel is a poor driver.

    5. It’s democracy folks – there’s nothing like a ‘rightful crown’ for Driver of the Weekend. That’s why its called Driver of the Weekend Poll. The result reflects what the majority of F1 Fanatics feel about the weekend in question and so sorry if the result doesn’t reflect what you as an individual (strongly) feels the result should be. We all have very different opinions on what makes a particular drive impressive or not and so to expect absolute black and white results is to set up oneself for disappointment…

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        19th October 2012, 15:43

        yes, but opinions , as keith always repeats before voting, should go for performance and not for who you are fan of. I dislike Hamilton and I’ve voted for him twice on this poll, trying to imagine drivers as faceless when i´m about to vote. To not consider a grand chelem is weird, don’t you think?

      2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        19th October 2012, 15:44

        I forgot to tag @sebsronnie

      3. I also have voted for drivers who I believed deserved the driver of the weekend who I’m not a fan of, Alonso in Germany for example, or Maldonado in Spain.

    6. I think Vettel’s 3 appearance in the top three in 4 races after the F1 bunch returned from its summer holiday highlights his outstanding performance in the second half of the year. In fact, I think it began somewhere after the alternator failure in Valencia. He upped to tempo after a same type of failure in Monza as well, just as he did in 2010 after his engine went down in Yeongam. Watching 25 (or in Monza, some 8-12) points slipping out of his hands completely for reasons outside his control seems to inspire and motivate him.

    7. Wow, never expected to be quoted! Glad to see that Kobayashi won the poll. Obviously I think he is the rightful winner. In Suzuka the Red Bull car just “recovered” that performance advantage it had last year. We could see this more clearly in Korea. If this is a sign of things to come, we might have a disappointing end of the season with Vettel just pulling away, victory after victory. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, but it clearly shows more the brilliance of Newey than of Sebastian compared to, say, the out of this world performances of Alonso in the likes of Valencia, for example. Going back to Kobayashi, this was a circuit that demanded a lot from the driver- it is a “driver’s” circuit, like Spa, Monaco, maybe Silverstone. He proved to be up there with the best, and using similar strategy to the top teams. In Perez’s also remarkable achievements, the tyre strategy component was key. Like I said, hope to see Kobayashi in a better car. Another one I hope would do a “Di Resta” is Edoardo Mortara. Another driver that really impressed me over here. He has been very impressive in DTM, being one of the best Audi drivers, even though his team is not one of the top ones. Motorsport is a bit cruel with talent, but if they gave him a chance…

      1. but it clearly shows more the brilliance of Newey than of Sebastian compared to, say, the out of this world performances of Alonso in the likes of Valencia

        I’m sorry but how was that an out of this world performance?
        He was only 0.2 seconds slower in Q2. And his race pace was better than anyone who finished behind him. Also, he only passed a Force India and a Williams. The other places he ‘gained’ are because Lotus and McLaren performed poor 4+ second pitstops for Hamilton and Raikkonen. Then he passed Grosjean on the restart and was gifted the victory when Vettel retired and managed to take the victory without any threat whatsoever because Grosjean retired as well.
        No matter how I look at it, that’s not an out of this world performance. Incredibly lucky? Yes. Out of this world performance? Hahaha, no.

        Don’t get me wrong, he drove a strong race but he did nothing that only he could have done.
        In fact, his victory was more Ferrari’s hard work. They’re the ones who helped Alonso in front of Hamilton and Raikkonen which later meant he was gifted the win.

        1. @sergio-perez

          I’d also like to add that Vettel’s race @ Spa was far more impressive. He managed to pass far more drivers, including Massa and Webber on track while preserving his tyres well enough to enable him to pit one time less than Raikkonen.

          Off course he wasn’t able to threaten Button for the lead but Alonso wouldn’t have been able to threaten Vettel in Valencia either.

          So, if Alonso’s race in Valencia was out of this world, was Vettel’s race in Belgium out of this solar system?

    8. It would be easy for Vettel to win this. Leading from the front, with no real pressure from behind, able to pull away at his own pace, save his tires and put in the fastest lap whenever he felt like it. Yes he was outstanding, and at one with an outstanding car once again. But in terms of perspective… Kobayashi is fighting for his career and to get his first podium infront of his home crowd in the manner he did and the crowds reaction is the real reason we enjoyed it so much. Japan and F1 need him in the sport, they may have not realised this yet. I remain optimistic he can demonstrate this again for us before the end of the season comes.

    9. Funny title guys, I always thought that Vettel was German.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        19th October 2012, 15:46

        Haha +1 just a game of words but funny of course!!!

      2. That’s settle then Koba is da Japanese GP driver !
        His extintion endangered career highlight, good for him and just in time !

    10. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      19th October 2012, 16:15

      I’ve been reading and commenting here and there about the poll.

      I feel sometimes this poll is more like having 3 candidates and 2 rounds in a political election. There’s A, B and C. I love “C” but he somehow did it wrong (or had bad luck), so the second round is just “A” and “B”. I dislike “A” so much. There’s “B”… I don’t mind about B, he’s a good guy, just that, but I DON’T WANT “A” to win, so my vote goes for “B”, and “B” wins.
      How many “B”s have been chosen driver of the weekend this year (and last year, or since the poll was created)?
      That’s what I think

    11. I think Vettel should have won; he was dominant all weekend, particurlarly in the race; largest winning margain of the year.
      He basically did what Rosberg did in China, who got about 70% of the votes.

      I may have missed something, but what was the result of the Singapore DOTW?

      1. Tells you on this page… Lewis, Paul, Seb. Lewis would have won if he hadn’t had the gearbox failure, so thats understandable. Paul because of his best ever finish 4th and because he’s British. Then Seb who won the race.

        I think Seb probably gets underrated on these polls because he has an irritating side. However like has been said over and over, DOTW is who got the best out of their car/situation. I will admit to being slightly biased towards Kobayashi, but he held off Button all race (not just the last 10 laps) in a superior car in his home race where the pressure and expectation is much higher than at any other time.

        To put it in perspective, Kobayashi has done in his 3rd attempt what Button has failed to do in 13 attempts at Silverstone. Some drivers buckle under that pressure, some rise to the challenge.

        1. How about what Alonso did at valencia?
          Vettel did exactly what Alonso did:
          Pass all the cars that were necessary, then benefit from a retirement.

      2. Hamilton, Di Resta, Vettel. I don’t disagree with that result so much, as Hamilton was very good and so was Di Resta, but I do strongly disagree with the Japanese result.

    12. I don’t see any hate for Vettel on this site, certainly nothing more than for Hamilton or Alonso, so I would assume people vote for their driver of the weekend based on the driver’s performance, taking into account the car and team and not necessarily on who actually won the race. That’s how I cast my vote, which means I may sometimes vote for someone for finished 5th, 6th, 7th or anywhere.

    13. That’s a good result as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s quite easy to get too caught up in stats for this poll, kinda takes the romance out of it. I voted for either Massa or Kobayashi I think simply because I believe they drove better than normal.

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