Grand Prix of Japan – Race


Disappointing to see that Ferrari’s obfuscated tobacco advertising is back on the car and the drivers’ helmets. The FIA had told Ferrari to remove it but it’s now very prominent.

Despite Mercedes topping both Practice sessions (BOT ahead of HAM in both FP1 and FP2), Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in Qualifying a few hours before the race:
Grid: VET, LEC, BOT, HAM, VER, ALB, SAI, NOR, GAS, GRO, GIO, STR, RAI, KVY, HUL, RIC, PER, RUS, MAG, KUB
However KUB will start from the pit lane… assuming the Williams mechanics manage to rebuild his car in time.

The weather looks good – it’s hard to believe there was a typhoon yesterday, although the anemometers are going crazy with gusting wind

VET leads everyone (except KUB) away on the formation lap
We knew the top 10 were starting on soft tyres (because that’s how they ran in Q2) but the rest of the field is a mix of soft and mediums
KUB is in the car, so it looks like Williams have managed a complete rebuild in about 3 hours

01/53: Great start by BOT – he’s ahead of both VET and LEC – was that a jump start?
Contact – VER spins, LEC has broken his front wing
Looks like SAI might have side-swiped HAM

02: LEC didn’t pit! The front wing is hanging off
There’s carbon fibre flying off

03: VET fastest lap 1:34.549
LEC stays out again – he’s got to get a black flag surely?
Incident involving LEC and VER – no investigation required
Radio from HAM asking why LEC hasn’t been told to pit
Radio from HAM – his wing mirror was knocked off by some of LEC’s wing

04: BOT f/lap 1:34.195
LEC pits; rejoins P18
Radio for VER telling him there’s no investigation; VER sounds shocked
Replay of the start shows BOT jumping the start and then pausing, giving BOT a chance to pass them
ALB and NOR make contact into the chicane
Replay shows ALB left NOR no room

05/53: BOT, VET, HAM, SAI, ALB, GAS, STR, HUL, PER, GIO

06: LEC f/lap 1:34.170
Radio from VER saying the car is “massively moving under braking”

07: RIC takes P10 from GIO
Incident between LEC and VER is now under investigation (the one they said no inv needed)
Still no mention of VET being penalised for the jump start

09: LEC past VER for P16
Finally, VET under investigation for the start

10/53: BOT, VET, HAM, SAI, ALB, GAS, STR, HUL, PER, RIC, GIO, MAG, GRO, RAI, KVY, LEC, VER, RUS, NOR, KUB; no retirements
Radio from VER complaining braking problems causing his tyres to flat spot

11: Train from MAG (P12) to LEC (P16) but VER is falling back
Why is there no investigation symbol against VET but there is for LEC and VER?

12: LEC inside KVY into Spoon Curve; takes P15
BOT locks up into the hairpin

13: Radio for BOT “keep it coming – this is good stuff”
BOT has 4sec lead over VET

14: No further action for VET’s false start
LEC inside RAI into 130R and steals P14 from the Alfa Romeo

15/53: BOT, VET, HAM, SAI, GAS, STR, HUL, RIC, PER, GIO

16: VER pits; retires the Red Bull

17: VET pits from P2; massive lock up as he tries to hit the speed limit; another set of soft tyres go on, so he’s got to be 2-stopping; rejoins P4
Radio for BOT telling him to pit

18: BOT pits from P1; mediums go on; rejoins P2
ALB f/lap 1:33.959
Radio for BOT telling him to push because he’s on 2-stop but HAM is on 1-stop strategy
VET easily past SAI for P4

19: GAS and STR in the pits
Incident involving LEC and VER will be investigated after the race

20/53: HAM, BOT, VET, SAI
BOT f/lap 1:32.137
HUL and PER pit

21: ALB attacking RIC; takes P5

22: HAM pits from P1; mediums go on; rejoins P3

24: GAS takes P9 from NOR
Radio from HAM asking why they put him on medium tyres; told hard tyre is too unknown

25/53: BOT, VET, HAM, SAI, ALB, RIC, LEC, KVY, GAS, NOR, STR, HUL, PER, GRO, GIO, RAI, MAG, RUS, KUB; retirement: VER
STR all over NOR’s rear wing
STR takes P10

26: LEC pits again; softs go on, so he’ll probably need to stop again; rejoins P12

27: ALB takes P4 from SAI
SAI pits
HUL takes a look but KVY defends

28: This time HUL takes P9, and PER follows him past KVY
LEC takes P11 from KVY
KVY pits; only RIC yet to pit

29: Radio for HAM giving him gap info; HAM sounds unhappy with the strategy

30/53: BOT, VET, HAM, ALB, RIC, SAI, GAS, STR, HUL, PER, LEC, GRO, GIO, RAI, MAG, NOR, KVY, RUS, KUB; retirement: VER
RIC pits; rejoins P11

31: LEC closing on PER
LEC inside PER – easy pass for P9

32: VET pits; mediums go on; rejoins P3

34: LEC closing on GAS

35/53: BOT, HAM, VET, ALB, SAI, GAS, LEC, STR, HUL, PER, RIC, GRO, GIO, NOR, RAI…
ALB pits
LEC inside GAS to take P6

36: Radio for BOT, “box, box, box”

37: BOT pits; softs go on; rejoins P2

38: HAM 9sec lead over BOT, who in turn has 8sec gap to VET
Radio from HAM, “tell me what I need to do to win this race”

39: VET f/lap

40/53: HAM, BOT, VET, ALB, SAI, LEC, GAS, STR, HUL, PER, RIC, GRO, NOR, KVY, GIO, MAG, RAI, RUS, KUB; retirement: VER

41: Apparently Mercedes have told BOT that HAM will pit again
NOR past GRO

42: RIC takes P10 from PER
KVY past GRO for P13

43: HAM pits from P1; softs go on; rejoins P3 – red tyres and no doubt red mist
HAM is just over 5sec behind VET

44: Radio for LEC telling him to pit but LEC wants to stay out
(Theoretically, LEC could get a post-race penalty for the collision with VER on lap 1)
HUL attacks STR but locks up
RIC passes teammate HUL

45/53: BOT, VET, HAM, ALB, SAI, LEC, GAS, STR, RIC, HUL, PER
HAM f/lap 1:31.538

46: RIC takes P8 from STR
HAM f/lap 1:30.983 – he’s under 2sec behind VET

47: HAM now under 1sec behind VET
LEC pits; soft tyres go on; rejoins P6

48: HAM all over the rear wing of VET
VET defends
RIC takes P7 from GAS

49: Radio from LEC asking if he can try to pass BOT and unlap himself

50/53: BOT, VET, HAM, ALB, SAI, LEC, RIC, GAS, HUL, STR, PER, KVY, NOR, GRO, RAI, GIO, MAG, RUS, KUB
VET has caught some traffic

51: GAS holds up VET, and HAM couldn’t get any closer
Radio for VET giving him a setting for more performance

52: Radio from HAM, “I need more power”
PER takes P9 from HUL
FIA graphic says HAM’s rear right tyre is at 10%

53 = final lap: HAM still 0.3sec behind VET
PER is off, into the wall; yellow flags in sector 1

BOT takes the chequered flag
VET just feet ahead of HAM
LEC didn’t take fastest lap away from HAM
That means Mercedes take the Constructors’ title, and only BOT can (statistically) challenge HAM for the Drivers’ championship
Actually that’s a record-breaking sixth world championship double… it’s just not quite certain which of their drivers will take that trophy

Replay shows GAS tagged the rear of PER, spinning him off into the wall

Provisional result: BOT, VET, HAM, ALB, SAI, LEC*, RIC, GAS, PER, HUL, STR, KVY, NOR, RAI, GRO, GIO, MAG, RUS, KUB
DNF: VER
Fastest lap: HAM

Remember: Incident involving LEC and VER will be investigated after the race
Will there be an investigation for the GAS/PER incident on the last lap?

Updates:

  • “The classifications of Ricciardo and Hulkenberg are provisional subject to the outcome of a protest initiated by Racing Point.”
    This sounds pretty technical! The Racing Point claim is “relating to a ‘pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system’”, “and as a result the FIA standard electronic control units and the steering wheels used by Ricciardo and Hulkenberg have been sealed and impounded in preparation for conducting a detailed analysis of those pieces.”

  • “Leclerc demoted to P7 in Japan after double post-race penalty”; “Leclerc received a 5-second and a 10-second post-race penalty for causing a collision and then driving his car in an unsafe condition.” [FIA]
    The stewards “deemed Leclerc to be “predominantly” at fault for the incident and handed him a five-second time penalty as well as two penalty points on his license.”
    The stewards said: “This piece of wing narrowly avoided an impact in the area of the cockpit of car 44 [Hamilton] and destroyed the right-side mirror of car 44.” “After this second piece detached, the team felt the car was now in a safe condition and despite previously telling the Race Director that the car would be called to the pits, they told car 16 to remain out and not to pit.” “On lap 3 the Race Director called the team and directed the car be brought to the pits for inspection. Car 16 pitted at the end of lap 3.” “As a result, he was given a further 10-second time penalty while Ferrari were fined €25,000.”

  • …but oddly no mention of an investigation for the GAS/PER incident on the last lap
    “The stewards have now ruled that no driver was “wholly at fault” for the collision, and have elected to take no further action.” [autosport]