Japanese GP – Race Review

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What a race it was… As usual, throw in the rain and expect unexpected. The race started behind the safety car, as the track conditions were deemed too dangerous. One only had to see some of the on board footage to understand why…

To make things even more confusing FIA requested teams to start the race on extreme wet tyres, with black flags awaiting those who would not follow. Apparently the rule came out only at 12:15, 15 minutes before the race start. FIA sent the information by email. Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali only received the email by 1:37 … Ferraris started the race on intermediates… Why on Earth did they choose to do that in those freaking wet conditions is mystery to me. With or without FIAs rule the extreme wets were sure the only way to go.

Anyway, without anyone watching the race knowing what was going on, both Ferraris, Massa first, Raikkonen after him made pit stops behind the safety car and were relegated from 3rd and 4th to back of the pack. With safety still cruising, both of them had to sit still at the back without being able to recover lost track positions.

It took 18 safety car lead parade laps in torrid conditions before the race would eventually take off. And it only took few corners for some crashes. Button’s hopes for good rain induced finish were over after he lost his front wing to an accident with Heidfeld. Amazingly he managed to race for few laps without the wing! How useful that wing must be on the Honda car :-)

Raikkonen made up some places but both McLarens were already running away. Sebastian Vettel in Toro Rosso settled surprisingly in the 3rd, ahead of Mark Webber.

Then Alonso made his pit stop and crucially returned to the track behind this bunch of cars. Hamiltons stop went better, he came out ahead of Vettel and Webber, having created nice cushion between himself and Alonso.

Japanese GP pretty much ended Michael Schumacher’s title chances last year, it looks like the same may have happened to Alonso this year. His car wrecking smash into the barriers ended his race and leaves him with a mountain to climb in the last 2 races…

The safety car was out to allow the McLaren’s debris clean up. The large gaps between the cars were erased and all of a sudden there was fast charging Webber right on the tail of Hamilton, just ahead of Vettel in Torro Rosso. Behind them lined up Kovalainen, out of nowhere Massa , Coulthard, Fisichella, Heidfeld and Raikkonen. Webber at this stage of the race really fancied his chances for a race win. With Alonso out of the race, Hamilton would probably not risk too much should Webber try to take his P1 from him. However, we were not to see this… Vettel looked the wrong way and when he looked back his car was all over Webber’s, both of them out of the race, behind the safety car. To Vettel’s consolation, this had happened before… The big Michael Schumacher hit Montoya under a safety car in Monaco few years back. So in this statistic Vettel is already there with the Great one.

After the restart, Raikkonen climbed quickly ahead of Heidfeld and Fisichella. He made an outrageous maneuver on Coulthard and started to close on Massa. “Surprisingly” now out-of-the-title-race Massa was called to pits and Raikkonen was free to challenge Kovalainen for the 2nd. He was sure trying hard, aquaplaning off the track few times, but Kovalainen managed to defend his 2nd place. Coulthard came in good 4th. Fisichella brought in more points for Renault in 5th. What was going on behind them however was probably the best racing we have seen in a while on the F1 tracks. Massa and Kubica fighting for the 6th like it was a championship decider… Massa claimed the 6th at the end. The final point went to Liuzzi, first point of the season for Toro Rosso. They must be happy, but after how the race was shaping up for Vettel, this one point is probably a bit bitter sweet for them.

Update – Did not mean to be Toro Rosso’s day at the end – Liuzzi was penalized for overtaking Sutil under yellow flags, 25 sec penalty drops him a place. Sutil goes up to 8th scoring a point for Spyker…

So what does all this mean?

Massa is out of the championship race. With 2 races to go and 20 points to fight for Hamilton is leading Alonso by 12 and Raikkonen by 17 points. This means both Alonso and Raikkonen are still in the fight, but they pretty much need at least one DNF for Hamilton. If Alonso fails to gain 2 and Raikkonen 7 points on Hamilton in Shanghai, Hamilton may be crowned new champion next week.

For Race Results click here


2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. VikNo Gravatar says:

    Nice Review, you could say more about Vettel, he made really good race, one of the best, but he made only one mistake that throw the result down to the hill.

  2. adminNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, Vettel probably deserved a bit more space in the review. He had very good race after great qualifying. He was in a hunt for podium on a day when Toro Rosso actually performed well – just look when Liuzzi was when the race started and where he ended… Unfortunately he made that big mistake and instead of ending up on the podium his race ended in tears in the garage….

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2013 Teams and Drivers

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2 Mark WEBBER
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Lotus
7. Kimi RAIKKONEN
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