Race Review - Japanese Grand Prix
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The Suzuka circuit is one of my favourites, I love racing around it on my F1 simulation games. The Esses are so challenging to get right, 130R is pure breathtaking and the memories I have of the track are legendary. I will never forget watching Senna Vs Prost, both part 1 and 2, on YouTube and the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix which I watched live on TV during the early hours of Sunday. The figure of 8 track always produces excitement, and Iím glad it returned to hosting the GP as I was not really a fan of Fuji.
There are so many talking points from the race, so its only right if I start with.. well the start! Vettel had a fantastic start from pole position but as usual Webber was slow away, dropping back in the pack. Button matched Vettelís start and was already alongside Alonso and Raikkonen as they went into turn 1. Here is where it got interesting, because Alonso edged Raikkonen onto the grass. They touched, Alonso spun into the gravel and Raikkonen continued with minor front wing damage. Now here is what I think. Firstly, Raikkonen could have easily lifted off and dropped back but then again he is a racing driver, and this is Kimi involved. In my view Alonso gave him no room, he had some space to the right of him that would of meant the touch did not happen. Alonso was certainly annoyed in the post-race interviews but he was as much at fault as Raikkonen, a simple racing incident.
There were 2 points to the first corner carnage. I just discussed the first, now on to the second. Grosjean was yet again involved in a first lap crash, this time colliding with Webber on the entry to turn 2. Now this caused uproar on the twitter-sphere, but in my view it was understandable that they crashed. Webber was oddly slow going in to turn 2, maybe being slightly cautious, and Romain went for a gap but the slight movement right of Mark and the cold brakes of Grosjean meant they hit. It was another racing incident in my view, but Markís reaction was understandable as he was looking at a possible podium. More on him later, but should Grosjean have got the penalty? Its debatable, but I would say no. It was purely a racing incident, he was not doing it on purpose or stupidly drove into him. It was just a small touch which turned into something slightly bigger. The chaos in front caused a concertina behind, with Senna hitting a slowing Rosberg and taking him out of the race too.
Moving on to the brilliant last lap battle between Button and Kobayashi, similar to Button chasing down Vettel in Canada 2011. The gap was getting shorter and Button was moving out looking at possibilities to overtake but Kamui was placing his car very well, in good and defensive positions. With a few more laps, JB would probably have moved to third but the circumstances meant Kobayashi scored his debut podium.
The race itself had a dramatic start, a good end but a slightly processional middle. This is usually the case at Suzuka, because of the tight and twisty nature of the track. The final few laps were nerve wrecking for me as I was undecided on who I wanted to finish 3rd. Iím a Button fan, but Kobayashi getting his 1st podium at his home track was just a fairytale really.
Looking at the results, Vettel was purely dominant. He was pretty much untouchable, a controlled drive and a return to the Sebastian of 2011 really. 20 seconds back, Felipe Massa made a surprise return to the podium and his race was pretty much set up at the first corner. Taking the inside line, behind Button, Massa weaved through the carnage to move up to 4th. His pit strategy was brilliant, a great move by Ferrari to bring him in later. This meant that while Button and Kobayashi were Buttoned up behind Ricciardo, Massa could run some competitive lap times and emerge comfortably ahead of the squabbling two. He also had fresher tyres which meant he could pull away.
Kobayashi, wow what a drive from him. Driving for his career (like Massa)? I think so. Some rumours have said that he could be dropped by Sauber but there is a reason not too! Brilliant driver by him, just keeping 3rd ahead of Button. Hamilton had a quiet run to 5th. His pace was poor in the first stint, but thankfully he picked it up mid way through the race to close in on his team mate by the chequered flag. Raikkonen finished 6th, ahead of an impressive Nico Hulkenberg who had a brilliant start.
Maldonado got his first points since Spain, welcome points after the gossip surrounding his future. Webber drove a brilliant race, weaving past cars left, right and centre to get 2 championship points. The final point went to Daniel Ricciardo, another point but the team need a big result to help their championship position.
I was slightly disappointed with Perez during the race. I can imagine the pressure he had on him, but spinning off is abit of a rookie error. He showed his usual fast pace, but I was not too impressed with the mistake.
Author: Rick McCabe
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