Grand Prix of Japan – Race

VET had a poor Qualifying session, ending up P9 but thanks to the penalty handed to OCO (for failing to slow sufficiently for red flags in FP3) he’ll start P8.

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

It’s warmer and less overcast than yesterday
Air temperature 28°C track 36°C

HAM, BOT, GRO and LEC starting on the softs they ran in Q2; rest of the top 10 are on supersofts
Smoke from HUL’s car as the mechanics fire it up

HAM leads everyone away on the formation lap

01/53: HAM leads into Turn 1
VET already past both Toro Rosso, up to P6
RIC inside MAG for P14
VET makes a strong move on GRO for P5
VER runs wide into the final chicane; rejoins; pushes RAI a bit wide
VET past RAI for P4

02: MAG has a puncture
Replay shows MAG makes a late move under braking in front of LEC

03: HAM fastest lap 1:34.467
Incident involving VER and RAI under investigation
RIC takes P10 from HAR

04: Safety Car deployed because of the debris from MAG’s car
Incident involving LEC and MAG under investigation

05[SC]: HAM, BOT, VER, VET, RAI, GRO, GAS, PER, OCO, RIC
LEC pits, new front wing
VER given 5sec penalty

06[SC]: HAM, BOT, VER, VET, RAI, GRO, GAS, PER, OCO, RIC, HAR, SAI, ALO, HUL, STR, VAN, SIR, LEC, ERI, MAG
Lapped cars can now pass the SC (that’s just MAG)

07[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap
Incident involving ALO and STR under investigation (cutting a corner)
Radio from GAS reporting a fire

08: Green flag; race resumes
RIC looking to pass OCO
VET attacks VER; contact; bodywork flying; VET spins; rejoins P19

09: HAM f/lap 1:34.437
RIC past OCO for P8
MAG pits; looks like a retirement
Incident involving VER and VET under investigation

10/53: HAM, BOT, VER, RAI, GRO, GAS, PER, RIC, OCO, SAI, HAR, ALO, HUL, STR, LEC, SIR, ERI, VAN, VET
Replay of ERI running into the rear of LEC
DRS enabled again after the SC

11: VET past VAN
RIC dives inside PER into the final chicane; takes P7

12: VET finds a way past ERI for P17

14: VET takes P15 from STR

15/53: HAM, BOT, VER*, RAI, RIC, GRO, GAS, PER, OCO, SAI, HAR, ALO, HUL, LEC, VET, STR, ERI, SIR, VAN
(*VER still has a 5sec penalty to be served when he pits)
Radio from RAI – hard to understand but I think he’s complaining about the tyres
VET past LEC for P14

17: VET dives inside HUL for P13; ALO is his next target
Ferrari are preparing tyres

18: RAI pits from P4; mediums go on; rejoins P10

19: ALO defends but VET goes round the outside to take P12

20/53: HAM, BOT, VER*, RIC, GRO, GAS, PER, OCO, RAI, SAI, HAR, VET, ALO, HUL, LEC, ERI, SIR, VAN, STR
RAI easily past OCO for P8

21: HAM f/lap 1:34.336
RAI inside PER to take P7

22: There was a penalty announced but I couldn’t read it because of the adverts 🙁

23: HAM f/lap 1:34.183
VER takes P4 from GRO having just pitted and served his penalty
Mercedes getting ready for a pit stop
Incident involving VER and VET – no further action — hmmm, I wonder if that’s just a little bit of Ferrari favouritism again? If it had been VER hitting VET, I bet he would have been penalised

24: HAM f/lap 1:34.013
BOT pits from P2; rejoins still P2
RIC pits too; mediums; rejoins P4
VER f/lap 1:33.840
Radio from HAM reporting blistering on his left rear

25/53: HAM pits; mediums go on; rejoins P1, still ahead of BOT
HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, RAI, GRO, GAS, PER, OCO, SAI, VET, HAR, ALO, HUL, LEC, ERI, SIR, STR, VAN
PER pits, rejoins P17
ALO and STR each given 5sec penalty gaining an advantage by cutting corners

26: BOT f/lap 1:33.519
Radio from HAM reporting ongoing “driveability” issue; “upshift still harsh”

Half distance

27: OCO and VET pit, followed by ALO
VET switches to softs; rejoins P16

28: LEC losing the tail a bit
VET lines up SIR

30/53: GRO and GAS pit
VET steals P12 from HUL

31: VET locks up as he almost rear-ends OCO
OCO trying to pass LEC but yields to VET

32: OCO continues harrying LEC; finally takes P10
GAS all over the rear of ERI

33: SAI pits from P6
GAS around the outside of ERI for P11

34: VET f/lap 1:33.243
VET closing on GRO (in a Ferrari-powered Haas)

35/53: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, RAI, GRO, VET, PER, OCO, LEC, GAS, ERI, SAI, SIR, STR…
GRO puts up no resistance as VET takes P6
GAS steals P10 from LEC

38: ALO passed STR but then ALO makes an aggressive move across at STR

39: VER closing on BOT
HUL pits; retires
Radio from RIC reporting “big knock” in 6th gear

40/53: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, RAI, VET, GRO, PER, OCO, GAS, SAI, ERI, HAR, ALO, STR, VAN, LEC, SIR; retirements: HUL, MAG
LEC off, across the gravel but rejoins the track; pulls off again, parks the car

41: Virtual Safety Car to protect the marshals as they clear LEC’s Sauber
Mercedes ready for a stop

42[VSC]: VSC ending
Mercedes cancel their stop
VER (on softs) under 1sec behind BOT (on mediums)
PER takes P7 from GRO

43: RIC f/lap 1:33.236
Radio from GRO complaining PER wasn’t sticking to VSC times
BOT locks up as he’s about to lap ALO

45/53: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, RAI, VET, PER, GRO, OCO, GAS, SAI, ERI, HAR, ALO, VAN, SIR, STR; retirements: LEC, HUL, MAG
HAM f/lap 1:32.959

46: Radio from RIC reporting left front “taken a big hit” (in performance) after the SC; told RAI is reporting same problem

47: VET 38sec behind his teammate – seems unlikely Ferrari will order a switch in position

48: BOT locks up, cuts across the final chicane
Radio for VER telling him to “keep it clean”

50/53: HAM, BOT, VER, RIC, RAI, VET, PER, GRO, OCO, GAS, SAI, ERI, HAR, ALO, VAN, SIR, STR
Radio from VER – “engine is so rough it’s unbelievable”

51: SAI takes P10 from GAS

52: HAM f/lap 1:32.785
VER within DRS range of BOT again

53 = final lap: VER has been given Mode 7 (“overtake mode”) for this lap
VER locks up
VET f/lap 1:32.670

HAM takes the chequered flag; his 50th win with Mercedes
VET f/lap 1:32.318

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