Grand Prix of Japan – Qualifying


The first thing to note is that Qualifying has been moved to Sunday (10am local time) because of Typhoon Hagibis; support races and FP3 were cancelled, but Quali was postponed. [revised schedule]

Meanwhile, in other news…

  • 2020 Formula 1 calendar officially approved by FIA [FIA]
    Starts mid-March in Australia; ends in Abu Dhabi at the end of November; a total of 22 races
  • Trying not to sound too much like a cliched Mafia threat:

    Claiming that it would be a “shame” to use veto, Ferrari boss, Mattia Binotto nevertheless admits that it remains an option.
    “We have got the veto right and it would be a shame to use it,” said the Italian. “I don’t think that’s the intention, I don’t think that’s what we are looking for.
    [pitpass]

    Yeah, that’s not at all suspicious 🙁

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: BOT (1:28.731), HAM, VET, LEC, VER
    HAM pushed hard, causing his brakes to catch fire
    LEC was on a cool down / recovery lap after an error and managed to block BOT
    SAI’s McLaren stopped just after leaving the pits; fortunately the team fixed it and he put in some laps later in FP1
    GIO had a hydraulic problem with his Alfa Romeo, having to sit out the rest of this session
  2. FP2: BOT (1:27.785), HAM, VER, LEC, VET
    If there’s a problem with the postponed Quali session, FP2 times could set the grid
    LEC had to wait about 20mins while the Ferrari mechanics worked on the car’s front end
    Other than a spin by BOT, nothing much to note
  3. FP3: N/A
    Cancelled due to the weather

Quali starts at 9pm (Saturday) my time…
p.s. TSN are showing the same CFL show on three channels at that time, so they won’t be covering the Qualifying session. There’s smart!
It’s streaming on their app, but it won’t let me login from Chrome or Safari on the Mac (i.e. big screens) so I have to watch it on the iPad. Ugh.
Oh no – and now the app is taking a break while there’s adverts! Could TSN suck any harder?

20mins before the scheduled start of Quali and it looks like everything is OK to run the session
Air temperature 22°C; track 33°C; wind 20kph; zero risk of rain; humidity 63%

BBC have been asking the drivers what they did on their day off:

Playing Fifa on Playstation: Verstappen, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Gasly, Norris
Watching Netflix: Stroll, Perez.
Bowling: Russell, Albon, Ricciardo
Back to Tokyo: Hamilton
Checking the data: Bottas, Vettel, Kubica, Leclerc, Kubica
Sleeping: Giovinazzi
Off to the sauna: Kvyat
Eating: Hulkenberg
Building a Tyrrell six wheeler: Grosjean.

OK, it’s fast approaching 10am in Suzuka; time to focus on Qualifying … and then on the race just three hours later

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Green light, and both Ferrari cars leaving the pits already
KUB is in the wall on the start-finish straight
Red flag – session suspended
Replay shows he ran wide in the final turn, onto the grass, and couldn’t get the Williams back onto the track
About to restart; cars lining up at pit exit
KUB’s car has already been returned to the Williams garage, so the mechanics can get started rebuilding it for the race
RAI 1:31.331
GIO 1:30.558
GAS 1:29.614
Another red flag!
MAG spun in the final turn and backwards into the wall
He’s reversed away from the wall and he’s limping down the main straight but his Haas is dropping pieces of carbon fibre bodywork – that’s not clever
There’s just under 12mins left of Q1 and only 7 drivers have set a time
MAG’s made it back to the pits but there’s no way his mechanics will be able to fix that before the end of Q1
Radio from HAM, sitting at pit out “Definitely gusty out here!”
Green lights again, and now everyone is jockeying for position in the hope of getting a decent flying lap
BOT 1:29.413
(HAM P2)
VER 1:28.754
(SAI P2)
LEC 1:28.405
(VET P3)
5mins left; bottom 5 are: PER, RAI, GRO, MAG, KUB
(BOT P3)
(HAM P2)
PER P11; RUS P16
GRO P8; STR P16
RAI very close to STR on their out lap
STR P10, HUL P16
HUL P13, RIC P16
RIC P15; PER P16
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are: PER, RUS, RAI, MAG, KUB
RAI P14, RIC P16
Back of the grid: RIC, PER, RUS, MAG*, KUB*
*MAG and KUB didn’t set lap times so they’ll need to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

Qualifying session 2
Looks like cars are being sent out with some urgency
Everyone going out on soft tyres
Radio from LEC, “why are the tyres so cold?”; “Should be OK”
LEC 1:28.179
VET 1:28.174
(BOT P3)
HAM 1:27.826
Radio from VER, “No power, no power on the back straight” (at Honda’s home race)
Christian Horner says the problem is the timing of power deployment which means VER is running out of boost too soon
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are: GAS, KVY, GIO, STR, HUL
Radio from HUL, “I’ve lost power steering”; “Do not change gear; do not change gear; scenario 12, we have a major problem”
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are: RAI, GAS, KVY, GIO, HUL
GRO P11, STR P11
GIO P11
BOT 1:27.688
Middle of the grid: GIO, STR, RAI, KVY, HUL
When did ALB go P3?
Top 10 will all start the race on soft tyres

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between BOT, HAM, ALB, VET, LEC, VER, NOR, SAI, GAS and GRO
Can HAM get his 3rd consecutive Japanese GP pole?
NOR and SAI are both on used tyres!
NOR 1:29.248
GAS P2
BOT 1:27.696
HAM P2
SAI P4
LEC 1:27.535
VET 1:27.212
VER P5
ALB P6
Order after first run: VET, LEC, BOT, HAM, VER, ALB, NOR, SAI, GAS, GRO (GRO hasn’t set a time)
GRO P8
Chequered flag; order is VET, LEC, BOT, HAM, VER, ALB, NOR, GRO, SAI, GAS
GAS P7
NOR P7
SAI P7
LEC P2
VER P5
VET 1:27.064
ALB P6
BOT P3
HAM P4
Front of the grid: VET, LEC, BOT, HAM, VER, ALB, SAI, NOR, GAS, GRO

VET: “I don’t think I used the brakes other than Turn 2”
LEC: “Pole was not possible, Seb was too quick.”
BOT: “They were untouchable”; “Nothing is lost yet, let’s see in a few hours.”

Provisional grid: VET, LEC, BOT, HAM, VER, ALB, SAI, NOR, GAS, GRO, GIO, STR, RAI, KVY, HUL, RIC, PER, RUS, MAG*, KUB*
*MAG and KUB didn’t set lap times so they’ll need to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

There’s just three hours until the race … except I’ll be asleep so I’ll watch it when I get up 🙂
Fortunately it’ll actually be on TV so I can record it – thanks TSN.