Grand Prix of Japan – Qualifying

Hot on the heels of the Grand Prix of Russia, it’s time for the GP of Japan. Unfortunately that means it’s on in the middle of the night, so I won’t get to watch qualifying or the race live – I just need to avoid the internet until I have a chance to watch the recording.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:28.691), BOT, RIC, RAI, VET
    HAM nearly took out GAS as the Toro Rosso was crawling towards the chicane; GAS was reprimanded by the stewards but not penalised [F1 video]
  2. FP2: HAM (1:28.217), BOT, VET, VER, RAI
    HAM seemed very happy but VER described driving his Red Bull as “rallycross-like” [F1 video]
  3. FP3: HAM (1:29.599), VET, RAI, VER, BOT
    There was rain for much of the session, and then it was ended early (red flagged with 2.5 minutes left) when HUL crashed in the Esses [F1 video]
    OCO is under investigation for not slowing sufficiently when the red flags came out

Tyre compound choices are: medium, soft and supersoft
Air temperature 26°C; track 29°C; wind 16.5km/h; humidity 84%
The Suzuka circuit is just outside the reach of a typhoon but it’s windy and there’s a threat of rain

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
VAN is first out of the pit lane
Drivers jockeying for position on their out laps, looking for an advantage when they start their quick run
VAN 1:32.170
GRO 1:30.504
RAI 1:29.631
VET 1:29.049
Little puff of smoke from HAM’s car on his flying lap – was that from the legality plank?
HAM 1:28.702
(RIC P4)
(BOT P3)
(VER P4)
VET spins in the hairpin
ERI runs wide, across the gravel and into the barriers
Red flag – Q1 suspended because ERI’s car is in a dangerous spot
9:57 remain of Q1; currently bottom 5 are SIR, VAN and then no time from PER, SAI, HUL
The two Renaults fill the pit exit as cars line up ready for Q1 to restart
The air being forced over HUL’s rear wing is visible, which shows the humidity
SAI P10, relegating ERI to P16
HUL P9, STR P16
PER P10, ALO P16
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are ALO, STR, ERI, SIR, VAN
Spots of rain on some camera angles
Radio for PER – “rain in the pit lane”
Chequered flag
STR P11, GAS P16
GAS P9, HAR P16
ALO P15, SAI P16
SIR P15, ALO P16
VAN P19
HAR P13, SIR P15
SAI P12, HUL P16
Back of the grid: HUL, SIR, ALO, VAN, ERI

Qualifying session 2
Still some grey clouds overhead; hard to tell if the spots on the camera lenses are from Q1 or new
RAI 1:28.595
HAM 1:28.017
BOT 1:27.987
RIC is being pushed along the pit lane; RIC reports “loss of power”; both RIC and VER are running the C-spec engine which was problematic when they last ran it
VET P3
VER P5
Engine cover comes off but RIC sits in the car, hoping to get out and set a time
5mins left; bottom 5 are LEC, MAG, SAI, STR, RIC
Radio for SAI telling him there’s rain coming in from Turn 8
Rain visible; crowd are covering up
MAG struggling to get the power down as he starts his lap
LEC manages a 360° spin
RIC out of his car; walking down the pit lane with his helmet on, you can still hear him swear
Chequered flag
That’s the first time HAM hasn’t led a session all weekeend
Middle of the grid: LEC, MAG, SAI, STR, RIC

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between BOT, HAM, VET, RAI, VER, OCO, PER, GRO, GAS and HAS
RAI and VET wait at the end of the pit lane; both on intermediate tyres
HAM and BOT leave their garage on supersofts
Everyone else on track; Ferrari are the only ones on inters
RAI and VET pit for supersofts
Looks like there might be more rain falling now
OCO 1:30.126
PER P2
HAM 1:27.760
BOT P2
GAS P3
HAR P3
VER P3
RAI touches the kerb – it’s still wet and slippery
GRO P4
RAI P4
VET P9 after running wide
After everyone’s first run, order is: HAM, BOT, VER, RAI, GRO, HAR, GAS, VER, PER
Mercedes in the pit lane to put new tyres on HAM then BOT
RAI pits for new supersofts
Radio for HAM – “rain is on its way”
VET pits; he’s pushed into the garage, so maybe they need more fuel (which they’re not allowed to do in the pit lane)
3mins left
BOT touches a white line and runs wide in Turn 1
RAI does the same
2mins left
VET runs very wide, across the gravel
Chequered flag
Front of the grid: HAM, BOT, VER, RAI, GRO, HAR, GAS, OCO, VET, PER

That’s HAM’s 80th pole position

Provisional grid: HAM, BOT, VER, RAI, GRO, HAR, GAS, OCO, VET, PER, LEC, MAG, SAI, STR, RIC, HUL, SIR, ALO, VAN, ERI

VER asked if he’d get out of the way of the championship battle if VET catches him; “is it still a battle? I’m not sure” 🙂

OCO has been given a 3 grid spot penalty (and 2 penalty points on his licence) for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags; that drops him from P8 to P11 [F1]

“Daniel Ricciardo says he won’t have to take a further grid penalty despite the power unit failure which prevented him from reaching Q3.” “It was a throttle actuator, basically it broke. As soon as I went on throttle I knew something was up. It sounded ugly. And then when we tried to start it up, one of the bits was broke. I would have preferred it happen in practice or something.” [racefans.net]

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