Japanese GP Preview – Part 2 – Race Preview


Japanese Grand Prix traditionally held towards the end of the F1 season provided us with some excellent races and exciting individual performances in the past, even in the recent past. Last year, Michael Schumacher’s engine failure effectively decided the driver championship, requiring Schumi’s win and Alonso DNF in the last race. The 2005 race started with sort reverse starting grid, after the top drivers had to run their qualifying laps in the wet. This was one of the most memorable F1 races, with Kimi Raikkonen winning it after starting from P17. Then there is the 2002 Japanese GP and the excellent Sato bringing his Jordan home at 6th, in what was the last race for Honda powered Jordan. This all however happened at the Suzuka track. The coming 2 years the Japanese GP will be held at the Fuji Speedway, before returning to Suzuka in 2009.

Video: Schumacher’s Engine Blows

It will be interesting to see what set will the teams choose. In qualifying the time will be gained and lost in the twisty parts of the track, but in the race, the lower downforce set up may be an advantage on the longest F1 straight.Nobody can really tell how will the teams cope with this new track, but I would say that under normal circumstances and dry conditions, this track may suit a bit more McLaren than Ferrari. Both McLaren drivers need to win however, so they will not be giving each other any favours. Ferrari, especially Kimi Raikkonen will be always ready to take the advantage of this. He needs to win this race or at least finish ahead of both McLarens. He could use some help from Felipe Massa…BMW should keep their 3rd best on the grid position here. Further down the pack it may be more interesting. This is the home race for Toyota and for Honda and these 2 teams may decide to go for all out glory with some adventurous set up. However with engine freeze and rev limiter Honda does not have the liberty to bring in the extra strong engines for the home race as they did in past few years. Renault may begin to struggle a bit since they do not work on any further development of their 2007 car. Nico Rosberg seems to be getting to top 10 and to the points no matter what, so whatever the track, I would not bet against him… Red Bull should do fine, that is if their cars last the race.Spyker has another chance to show the potential of their B-spec car. It will be interesting to see if they will be able to take any advantage from the fact, that both their drivers are familiar with this track. They seem to have gained quite a bit and are a match for Toro Rosso and Super Aguri now. But watch out for Sato, this is his home race …The unpredictable weather may however change it all …Here is the video preview from Sidepodcast.com

F1 Japan Preview
Uploaded by sidepodcastThe historical results from Japanese GP have little relevance here due to the different track. But for the record, three former Japanese GP race winners will be on the grid this year – Alonso, Raikkonen and Barrichello, all of them are in different teams now. Four drivers who started the Japanese GP 10 years ago will race in 2007 – Fisichella, Barrichello, Coulthard amd Ralf Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher and Fisichella may want to enjoy this race as much as possible, there is no guarantee these 2 will race here again next year …

Top 10 in past 10 Japanese GPs:

2006
1 – Fernando Alonso – Renault – 1:23:53.413
2 – Felipe Massa – Ferrari +16.1 sec
3 – Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +23.9 sec
4 – Jenson Button – Honda +34.1 sec
5 – Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +43.5 sec
6 – Jarno Trulli – Toyota +46.7 sec
7 – Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +48.8 sec
8 – Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-BMW +76.0 sec
9 – Robert Kubica – Sauber-BMW +76.9 sec
10 – Nico Rosberg – Williams-Cosworth +1 Lap

2005
1 – Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:29:02.212
2 – Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +1.6 sec
3 – Fernando Alonso – Renault +17.4 sec
4 – Mark Webber – Williams-BMW +22.2
5 – Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +29.5 sec
6 – David Coulthard – RBR-Cosworth +31.6 sec
7 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +33.8 sec
8 – Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +49.5 sec
9 – Christian Klien – RBR-Cosworth +51.9 sec
10 – Felipe Massa – Sauber-Petronas +57.5 sec

2004
1 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:24:26.985
2 – Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +14.0 sec
3 – Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +19.6 sec
4 – Takuma Sato – BAR-Honda +31.7 sec
5 – Fernando Alonso – Renault +37.7 sec
6 – Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +39.3 sec
7 – Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +55.3 sec
8 – Giancarlo Fisichella – Sauber-Petronas +56.2 sec
9 – Felipe Massa – Sauber-Petronas +89.6 sec
10 – Jacques Villeneuve – Renault +1 Lap

2003
1 – Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari – 1:25:11.743
2 – Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +11.0 sec
3 – David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +11.6 sec
4 – Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +33.1 sec
5 – Jarno Trulli – Renault +34.2 sec
6 – Takuma Sato – BAR-Honda +51.6 sec
7 – Cristiano da Matta – Toyota +56.7 sec
8 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +59.4 sec
9 – Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +60.1 sec
10 – Olivier Panis – Toyota +61.8 sec

2002
1 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:26’59.698
2 – Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +0.506
3 – Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +23.292
4 – Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +36.275
5 – Takuma Sato – Jordan-Honda +1’22.694
6 – Jenson Button – Renault +1 Lap
7 – Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8 – Mika Salo – Toyota +1 Lap
9 – Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
10- Mark Webber – Minardi-Asiatech +2 Laps

2001
1 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:27’33.298
2 – Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +3.154
3 – David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +23.262
4 – Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +35.539
5 – Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +36.544
6 – Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +37.122
7 – Jenson Button – Benetton-Renault +1’37.102
8 – Jarno Trulli – Jordan-Honda +1 Lap
9 – Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
10 – Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +1 Lap

2000
1 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:29’53.435
2 – Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +1.837
3 – David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +1’09.914
4 – Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +1’19.191
5 – Jenson Button – Williams-BMW +1’25.694
6 – Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
7 – Johnny Herbert – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
8 – Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
9 – Ricardo Zonta – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
10 – Mika Salo – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap

1999
1 – Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:31’18.785
2 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +5.015
3 – Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +1’35.688
4 – Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1’38.635
5 – Ralf Schumacher – Williams-Supertec +1’39.494
6 – Jean Alesi – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
7 – Johnny Herbert – Stewart-Ford +1 Lap
8 – Rubens Barrichello – Stewart-Ford +1 Lap
9 – Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Supertec +1 Lap
10 – Alexander Wurz – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap

1998
1 -Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:27’22.535
2 – Eddie Irvine – Ferrari – +6.491
3 – David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +27.662
4 – Damon Hill – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1’13.491
5 – Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Williams-Mecachrome +1’13.857
6 – Jacques Villeneuve – Williams-Mecachrome +1’15.867
7 – Jean Alesi – Sauber-Petronas +1’36.053
8 – Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +1’41.302
9 – Alexander Wurz – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
10 – Johnny Herbert – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap

1997
1 – Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:29’48.446
2 – Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Williams-Renault +1.378
3 – Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +26.384
4 – Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +27.129
5 – Jean Alesi – Benetton-Renault +40.403
6 – Johnny Herbert – Sauber-Petronas +41.630
7 – Giancarlo Fisichella – Jordan-Peugeot +56.825
8 – Gerhard Berger – Benetton-Renault +1’00.429
9 – Ralf Schumacher – Jordan-Peugeot +1’22.036
10 – David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes – engine

Read also: Japanese GP Preview – Part 1 – Track Preview

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2 Mark WEBBER
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Lotus
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