Grand Prix of Japan – Qualifying

Jules Bianchi is on everyone’s mind because it was at this race last year that he had the accident which ultimately led to his death.

Some people were expecting Jenson Button to announce his retirement but this is Honda’s home circuit so he’s not going to overshadow their publicity by saying he’s leaving the team who have given his team a terrible engine this season.

The Grand Prix of Singapore was only a week ago; HUL was given a 3 grid position drop for causing the collision with MAS.

Free Practice 1 and 2 was wet, so with the forecast for a dry race there wasn’t much that the teams could learn until FP3.

It’s overcast but dry for Qualifying; 10% chance of rain.
Air temperature 27°C; track 38°C; humidity 54%

Tyre compounds: prime=hard (orange side wall); option=medium (white)

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
VES first out of the pits, followed by SAI and GRO
Radio from ROS – “real problem with the engine as I’m driving out of the garage”
VES 1:35.415
ROS 1:33.961
HAM 1:33.595
ERI touches the artificial grass, goes off sideways but recovers
4mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are PER, SAI, STE; no time from ERI or RSI
1min left; bottom 5 are NAS, BUT, STE; ERI, RSI
VES has stopped coming out of Spoon; his car is only just off line; covered by yellow flags
Back of the grid: BUT, NAS, STE, ERI, RSI
VES’ car will be recovered but not in time for him to run in Q2

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Mercedes send out HAM and ROS straight away
ROS 1:32.632
(HAM P2)
KVY locks up into the hairpin
4mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are PER, GRO, MAL; no time from ALO or VES
Radio from SAI complaining of a lot of vibration from the new tyres
HUL pits; P8 with 30secs left of Q2; will he make it to Q3?
PER, KVY and GRO all improve, pushing HUL to P11
Vibration visible on SAI’s front left
Middle of the grid: HUL*, SAI, MAL, ALO, VES
*HUL will drop 3 places due to penalty from Singapore

Cloud is thickening; will it rain in Q3?

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Top 10 shootout is between ROS, HAM, RAI, MAS, BOT, VET, RIC, PER, KVY & GRO
ROS 1:32.584
RIC P2
HAM P2 just 0.076sec slower than ROS
BOT P3
GRO P5
MAS P4
VET P4
RAI P6
5mins left of Q3; order is ROS, HAM, BOT, VET, MAS, RAI, RIC, GRO; no time from PER & KVY
Big off – KVY into the barriers – huge impact!
Red flag immediately
Marshals are a complete waste of space – just watching from behind the barriers, not even moving to help KVY 🙁
Radio for KVY asking if he’s OK; he says his is
KVY gets himself out of the car – good thing too, because the marshals are only now just beginning to approach! Disgraceful!
Replay shows KVY touched the grass just after Degna-2; hits the tyre wall with the tail, spins and rolls
36secs left on the clock so Q3 is over
Race control confirms – session will not restart
Radio for KVY asking what happened; says he touched the grass

Provisional grid: ROS, HAM, BOT, VET, MAS, RAI, RIC, GRO, PER, KVY; HUL*, SAI, MAL, ALO, VES; BUT, NAS, STE, ERI, RSI
*HUL will drop 3 places due to penalty from Singapore

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