The Mercedes set the early pace of the weekend with a 1-2 in FP1, Lewis Hamilton led Rosberg by jus over 2 tenths, while the man who could've wrapped it all up this weekend was in 3rd.
The Mercedes looked good but they still seem to lack pace across any sort of long distance, qualifying and the opening stages of a race they are able to stay very close or even beat the Red Bull's for performance but after that they fade away.
Alonso looked set for a miserable weekend as he couldn't go any quicker than 8th across all 3 Free Practice sessions. On Friday many would have said that Vettel looked in a good position to take his fourth straight title but you can never rule out the Spaniard-who would come back in the race to keep Vettel's hands off the crown for at least one more race.
As we had said for the last couple of races, Hulkenberg has really impressed us and is surely destined for great things over the next couple of seasons, those of you that watched the BBC coverage of th race would have probably heard Eddie Jordan claiming Hulkenberg has already signed for either Lotus or his old team Force India. Either of these moves would be a smart move in our opinion as the teams in question have seen better, consistent results not only this season but last season, and they are finacially more secure. If we had our way we would see him walk into the McLaren team but they have ruled him out already so for us, it would be great to see him partner Grosjean next season. Both drivers are producing some great races recently and they would be the outsiders going into 2014 to take a few race wins between them possibly.
Further down the grid we saw Bianchi have an incident going into the Degner Two turn, apparently this was caused when his sleeve got caught and he couldn't straigten the car up, we were all hoping not to see a repeat come the race as both Jules and Max have looked good this weekend and could really take the fight to the Caterham's again in the last few races.
Unfortunately for those of you that thought perhaps Vettel wasn't going to be the man to beat this weekend were wrong, as he headed Webber to top the time sheets in FP2. He would encounter some issues in FP3 to only finish 9th but his team mate would keep a Red Bull car at the top of the session.
It was looking like it could be an interesting weekend from these onwards as Rosberg was consistently near the top of the times and both Lotuses have put in some good performances. Tht coupled with the great tyre management the car displays could have put them both in a position to challenge during the race.
Qualifying wasn't the session we all expected we would imagine. Vettel looked ominous through most of it but the KERS issue just as Q3 began suddenly threw it all up in the air again as the battle for Pole Position looked a lot more open. Before we talk about the top 10 we want to just look back at the bottom 4. This weekend saw Max Chilton put in an incredible performance to not only beat his team mate in qualifying, but also both Caterham's, something that even Bianchi hasn't been able to do as of late.
It marks a huge point in Max's season as he is silencing a lot of critics that have made comments about his experience and such, but right now he is the only driver to finish every race of the season and he has stepped up his performances to prove he can take the fight to those around him.
Looking back at the top 10 though our three star drivers are Mark Webber, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg. Webber took the opportunity when it presented itself to take Pole Position, while Grosjean massively out performed his more experienced team mate to take 4th an Hulkenberg managed a very respectable 7th, ahead of one Fernando Alonso.
It will be sad to see Webber leave the F1 scene next year as he clearly still has a lot of speed in him and is capable of leadig the pack, if things had played out differently at Red Bull would he still be there for years to come? Who knows but we are definitely going to miss his raw honesty and grit next year.
Suzuka offered a really good race in our opinion, from start to finish there was always some drama or close racing on offer and even if the title fight is all but over we still saw some great racing.
Grosjean has to take the title of Driver of the Weekend with arguably his best race to date. His phenomenal start saw him vault from 4th to 1st before turn 1 and he could have pushed Vettel all the way to the line had he not had to pit a few laps sooner. It would b a crime if Lotus don't retain him next season as now he has ironed out all of the first lap incidents and he has built on his consistency he could seriously challenege for race wins next year providing the car is still competitive.
It was a shame to see the Mark Webber's strategy not play out as he hoped, it would be good to see him win one more race before he leaves the sport and he surely had the pace to do so today given the gap to Vettel ove the line if you factor in an extra stop.
Vettel proved just how good he is again, dropping to 3rd at the start but managin his race to perfection to come back and take another great race win. It may be the same thing week in week out, but you do have to take your hat off to the hard work and results he is producing.
Looking slightly further down the grid, Rosberg and Perez had a busy race, managing to find each other twice during the race and very narrowly missing retirement after some touches out on track and a near miss in the pit lane. It is a shame to see both of these drivers not getting solid results as Rosberg looked in form at the beginning of the season and has tailed off a bit, while Perez doesn't look settled at McLaren, the team support him but we can't help but wonder if he is worrying about his seat next year and as a result isn;t 100% focused come each race.
Button is consistent but both drivers just don't have the car under them to challenge at the front, 9th place for Button at least gives him some championship points, although we are desperately hoping to see McLaren really step it up next year and be back up at the front of the grid.
Another team hoping to step up next year to be able to hopefully assert themselves a little more strongly so they can challenge Red Bull at every race, will be Mercedes. They have looked relly good this year and if they can work on their long run pace they will be a rel threat to Vettel's crown next season we believe. Hamilton had a weekend to forget unfortunately but you can can never rule him out at the beginning of the season, perhaps next year will be his year to claim his second World Championship.
All in all the Japanese Grand Prix offered a good race for the fans. Drivers seem to be stepping up their game to impress those above, and that is great for us as we are being treated to some great racing. Hopefully India will give us an even more action packed, unpredictable race but we will have to wait two weeks to find out. Make sure you check back then to see what we have to say on all of the Indian Grand Prix's events.