Archive for the ‘Japan- Suzuka’ Category

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Vettel Back on Top in Suzuka

October 10, 2010

Sebastian Vettel led from pole to take an important win in today’s Japanese Grand Prix to edge him closer to Mark Webber in the bid for the world championship, while first corner collisions saw the end to several drivers’ races, and Lewis Hamilton continued to have problems as after a troublesome weekend, his brand new gearbox lost third gear.

After qualifying was postponed to the morning of the race, Vettel and teammate Webber locked out the front row of the grid, and pretty much stayed where they were. At the start, Robert Kubica, who started third, split the Red Bulls, but after Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg’s collision straight off the start, and Felipe Massa and Vitantonio Liuzzi’s coming together at the first corner, the safety car was deployed for five laps, and by lap three, Kubica had lost his right rear wheel, and he was forced to pull over at the hairpin.

The Red Bulls were then left in their own race, while a good start for Lewis meant he was able to make up for starting eighth after a five-place grid-drop penalty for changing his gearbox, and he was soon into fifth behind Fernando Alonso and teammate Jenson Button.

The safety car returned to the pits at the end of lap six, and Vettel was leading from Webber, Alonso, Button and Hamilton. By lap 23 Hamilton became the first of the front-runners to pit, and the McLaren team were hoping to get him out in clear air in order for him to put in some fast laps to get closer to Alonso and a potential podium, but when he exited the pits in seventh, he found himself behind Kamui Kobayashi and in dirty air. However, within a few laps he was able to get into the slipstream of the BMW Sauber, and he passed him down into turn one.

Button, who had taken a gamble on the harder compound tyre to start the race on, took the lead as the leaders pitted, but was unable to pull out enough of a gap to ensure he remained ahead of Hamilton after his stop. Hamilton had put in some fast laps to get ahead of his teammate, but he soon ran into difficulty, and after it became apparent he had lost third gear, he started slipping back into Button’s clutches, and had to hand over fourth.

On lap 49, after the two Mercedes drivers had spent some time fighting over sixth, Nico Rosberg crashed out into the wall at turn five, after what appeared to be a failure of his left rear wheel. With just five laps to go, it looked like the safety car would have to be deployed, but the marshals were able to remove the car from the side of the track, and in the meantime, Kobayashi gave us some on-track action as he made a move on Barrichello, and a lap later passed teammate Nick Heidfeld to take seventh position.

Vettel took his third win of the season, leading home Webber for a Red Bull one-two, with Alonso in third. Button took fourth, while Hamilton finished fifth to take his first points since the Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher finished sixth, with Kobayashi in seventh, Heidfeld eighth, Barrichello ninth and Sebastien Buemi in tenth, the last of the points-scorers. Jaime Alguersuari, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto finished 11th to 16th, respectively, each having been lapped at least once. As well as Rosberg, Kubica, Hulkenberg, Massa, Petrov and Liuzzi’s retirements, Adrian Sutil also failed to finish the race, following engine failure, while Lucas di Grassi failed to start the race after crashing his Virgin on the way to the grid.

In the drivers’ standings, Webber edges even further ahead on 220 points, with Vettel and Alonso both on 206 points, and Hamilton and Button on 192 and 189 points each. 31 points now separate the top five. In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull are 45 points ahead of McLaren.

The next race is in Korea in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 23rd October, and the race on Sunday 24th.

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Japanese Qualifying Postponed Following Torrential Rain

October 9, 2010

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix has been postponed to race day, after heavy rain and standing water meant it was unsafe for the drivers to take to the track.

The drivers and teams waited patiently in their garages and on the pitwall, but Race Control confirmed it was too dangerous to let the session commence.

Qualifying will be live on BBC1 at 2am, with the race due to start at 7am tomorrow.

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Vettel Wins in Suzuka and Reels in Brawn

October 4, 2009

Sebastian Vettel dominated this morning’s Japanese Grand Prix, taking victory to keep his championship hopes alive.

Vettel now trails Jenson Button in the fight for the drivers’ title by 16 points as a result of his win, and the gap to second placed Rubens Barrichello is down to just two points, with two races remaining.

The German driver got a clean getaway, and while Lewis Hamilton tried to have a look around the outside going into the first corner, from third on the grid, Vettel managed to maintain his position to take an early lead. 

Hamilton managed to get past Jarno Trulli, but after his second stop, Trulli was able to claim back the place, after Hamilton struggled with his gearbox exiting the pits, and later had a problem with KERS. The two finished where they started in second and third.

The championship leader, who started from tenth, had a poor start, and brought home only a single point, after an error from Adrian Sutil enabled him to pass not only the Force India, but Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren as well. The incident saw Sutil spinning in the final chicane after contact with Kovalainen while trying to overtake.

Championship contender, Barrichello, who started the race from sixth, managed to maintain his position, until with just laps to go, the safety car was deployed following Jaime Alguersuari’s crash into the tyre wall at 130R, and Nico Rosberg managed to leapfrog the Brawn driver during his pitstop.

Button claimed after the race that Rosberg was speeding under safety car conditions, therefore breaking the rules. By doing so, both Button and Barrichello as well as Nick Heidfeld were leapfrogged by the Williams driver. After the race the stewards met to decide if Rosberg should receive a penalty, which would have been likely to demote him from fifth, and out of the points paying positions, meaning Barrichello would move up in the standings from a seventh place finish to sixth, with Button up to seventh. The outcome, would have also seen Brawn take the Constructors’ title, as the Brackley-based team now only need half a point to secure it over Red Bull. The stewards decided not to penalise the German driver.

Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the Ferrari, with Rosberg behind in fifth. Nick Heidfeld finished sixth, ahead of the two Brawns. Robert Kubica narrowly missed out on a point, finishing just behind Button. The BMW driver put pressure on the championship leader in the final few laps after the safety car came in, but was unable to make a pass.

Fernando Alonso finished in tenth, with Heikki Kovalainen 11th, ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella. The two had been wheel-to-wheel exiting the pits from their second stop.

While the race wasn’t as action-packed as qualifying, where four crashes resulted in three red flags and a yellow flag, the result means that going into Brazil the fight for the drivers’ championship is very much still on, with 14 points between Button and Barrichello. What is certain is that Brawn now only need half a point to secure the constructors’ title, and that is most likely to happen at the penultimate race in Brazil.

 

The next race is in Brazil in two weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 17th October, and the race live on BBC One on Sunday 18th at 5pm.

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Revised Japanese GP Grid

October 3, 2009

Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button are just two of the drivers who have been handed a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix after failing to lift under yellow flags.

The penalties were awarded after both Brawn drivers passed the yellow flags telling drivers to slow down following Sebasten Buemi’s shunt with the barriers on the exit of the Spoon curve in this morning’s qualifying session. Both drivers had been on their sole flying lap of Q2 after two previous red flags had meant they had not been able to get a time on the board beforehand, and both needed to record a time for a chance to make it into Q3.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Renault’s Fernando Alonso also received penalties for the same thing, while Buemi was issued with a penalty for continuing back to the pits after the incident.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen will drop five places after a gearbox change, and Toyota’s Timo Glock will start from the pitlane after a change to his chassis, if indeed he starts at all.

Meanwhile, polesitter Sebastian Vettel is heavier than second and third place starters Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton.

After what can only be described as a crazy qualifying session, the revised grid is expected to be as follows:

1. Sebastian Vettel, 2. Jarno Trulli, 3. Lewis Hamilton, 4. Nick Heidfeld, 5. Kimi Raikkonen, 6. Nico Rosberg, 7. Robert Kubica, 8. Adrian Sutil, 9. Rubens Barrichello, 10. Jaime Alguersuari, 11. Jenson Button, 12. Giancarlo Fisichella, 13. Heikki Kovalainen, 14. Sebastien Buemi, 15. Kazuki Nakajima, 16. Romain Grosjean, 17. Fernando Alonso, 18. Vitantonio Liuzzi, 19. Timo Glock, 20. Mark Webber.

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Vettel on Pole After Disrupted Suzuka Quali

October 3, 2009

Sebastian Vettel took pole in this morning’s disrupted qualifying session for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, where three drivers’ efforts saw them in the tyre wall.

Timo Glock’s crash at the start of the pit straight was the most worrying of the three incidents, with the Toyota driver eventually being airlifted to hospital with a wound to his left leg. The incident was the second to bring out the red flag in Q2, the first being the result of Jaime Alguersuari crashing into the tyre wall at Degner Two. Heikki Kovalainen brought out the third red flag, this time in Q3, again, sliding off the track at Degner Two.

As well as the three red flagged incidents, Alguersuari’s teammate Sebastien Buemi was also in the wars, just about managing to recover his Toro Rosso after a tap with the tyre wall at the infamous Degner in Q1. A rear wing change later, and Buemi posted the fourth fastest time in the first session, but after running wide exiting the Spoon curve in Q2, and dragging his Toro Rosso along the barriers, his car was too damaged to take part in Q3.

After Kovalainen’s accident was cleared, early on in Q3, Vettel posted the fastest time of 1:32.160, to take pole position, with Jarno Trulli second fastest in the Toyota. Last weekend’s pole sitter and race winner, Lewis Hamilton, will start in third, with Adrian Sutil completing the second row. Rubens Barrichello set a faster time than teammate and championship leader, Jenson Button, qualifying in fifth, with Button directly behind him in seventh, with the BMW of Nick Heidfeld between the two. Kimi Raikkonen was the slowest of the eight to post a time in Q3, with Kovalainen and Buemi both out as a result of their crashes.

After being checked over by medics, Alguersuari is fit to take his place in 15th on tomorrow’s grid. It is unknown whether Glock, who qualified 14th, will race tomorrow, and it is expected that Toyota will make an announcement in the morning. Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica were the three who missed out on the top ten shoot out following the restart of Q2, and they will start 11th, 12th and 13th respectively. However, after both Brawns set their fastest Q2 lap times under yellow flags, Alonso said after the session that he expects to start higher up, as under yellow flag conditions, you are expected to slow down. However, neither Brawn driver had posted a time to get through to Q3, and as the session had already finished, both drivers continued their pace.

While Vettel grabbed pole for Red Bull, at a race which is crucial for his world championship chances, his teammate Mark Webber was unable to qualify, after a shunt at Degner Two in third practice earlier in the morning, left his car needing a complete re-build. Webber will start tomorrow’s race from the pitlane.

With the amount of crashes the Suzuka circuit has seen this weekend, along with the rain which fell throughout free practice on Friday, hindering the amount of time the teams had on track, tomorrow’s race is looking like it may well be as eventful as qualifying. With Button needing only five points more than Barrichello to secure the drivers’ title, you wouldn’t want to miss it, as, as qualifying proved, anything can happen.

For UK viewers, the race starts at 6am tomorrow morning on BBC One.