A year after blasting Romain Grosjean as a ‘first-lap nutcase’, Red Bull's Mark Webber doffed his cap to the Frenchman for almost denying him second place at Sunday’s Japanese GP. Webber, who began on pole, finished behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who won his fifth race in a row and will be odds-on to clinch his fourth successive Formula One title in India in two weeks’ time.

But a lightning start from Grosjean from fourth on the grid left the Red Bulls for dead as his Lotus was first into turn one. He then made life very difficult for Webber at the end, killing off the Australian’s chances of a first win of 2013 before he embarks on a new career in sportscars with Porsche. Webber said Grosjean was a very different driver to last year in Japan, when he also started from pole but was hit by the Frenchman just after the green light, prompting his angry tirade. “It’s very clear that Romain has a very different mental approach to the job this year,” said Webber. “He’s driven some quite strong races, putting together the whole weekend, which is a sign of a driver starting to get a bit more relaxed and confident. A lot less mistakes, not just in races but in practice too.” — AFP

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