Paul Henman formula1 Japan Grand Prix – Race

Japan Grand Prix – Race

The race was in the middle of the night (my time) so I thought I’ll record it and watch it later… although I already know there was a rain delay but apparently it wasn’t as bad as Singapore, so I’m just hoping my recording caught the end of the race. If not, then I’ll just have to rely on the F1 highlight reel and BBC’s commentary notes.

After Quali there was the absurd “investigation” of VER swerving and forcing NOR onto the grass, which resulted in a measly reprimand for VER. At this point I’m almost surprised that they didn’t decide to penalise NOR instead.


The pit lane is open – the rain is getting heavier but at least there’s no sign of a delayed start
Drivers can do practice starts and installation laps before taking their place on the grid
Looks like full wet tyres for everyone so far
AlphaTauri has changed GAS’ rear wing and will start from the pit lane
HAM touches the painted rumble strip in Degner and puts the tail out but collects it back up
ALO on intermediate tyres, but usually they don’t start the race on the same tyres that they used to get to the grid
VER’s practice start he described as “a disaster” but it wasn’t quite as bad as last week’s

Theoretically, VER can win the Drivers’ Championship today – he needs 6 points more than PER and 8 more than LEC; a win and fastest lap will seal it
The rain might mean they don’t complete the full distance, but full points are awarded if they complete 75% of the laps
If they don’t complete 50% then there’s no point for fastest lap

That’s unusual – they’ve closed up the grid, with MAG taking GAS’ grid position as GAS is starting from the pit lane
It must have been a late decision because the Haas team had covered the P18 spot, but AlphaTauri were in the pits so the P17 spot is the only damp one – MAG might have problems getting going

VER leads everyone (except GAS) away on the formation lap
They’re all on inters
As VER and LEC head into Turn 1 the spray obscures the rest of the field
VER seems to be pushing harder than unusual for a formation lap – is that to try to prevent the Ferraris from warming their brakes and tyres?
Radio from ALO, “This will be eventful!”

01/53: LEC quicker off the line but VER leads into Turn 1
VET spins in Turn 1; recovers but he’s dropped from P9 to P20
ALO inside HAM for P5
SAI is off, into the tyre wall – he’s broken his rear wing, so he’s out
SC deployed
GAS is dragging an advertising board on his front wing
ALB is in the gravel

Replay shows VET got a great start before he bashed wheels with ALO and spun
The rain’s getting harder
Replay of SAI’s spin looks like it was just aquaplaning, not contact
Replay of ZHO’s spin, very nearly being collected by ALB
ALB’s Williams seemed to be stuck in second gear
Red flag – race suspended

The rain’s really coming down hard now, and there are rivers running across the track
Official weather radar shows the heavy rain will continue for about 10mins

Replay of a tractor on track while GAS was returning to the pits – it was ON the track, not on the grass at the side of the track
GAS is understandably furious – his friend Jules Bianchi was killed at this circuit when he hit a tractor in the rain 7 years ago

Race control has announced it will be a rolling start; “use of wet weather tyres is mandatory”
The 10min countdown to the restart was down to under 2mins but then RC said restart suspended

Interesting discussion between the Sky commentators (mostly ex-F1 drivers) about GAS & the tractor
GAS was trying to catch the pack after his pit stop, so he was going a lot faster than the other cars; he was in 5th gear as the double yellow flags were replaced by red; was he really prepared to stop, as required under those flags?
But there’s a wide grass section to either side of the track, so why was the tractor on the track?
And why didn’t the AlphaTauri team warn GAS that he was approaching the scene of the incident? Even if they didn’t know there was a tractor, there was a car in the tyre wall and potentially trying to recover it
Race Control said there will be an investigation after the race – I hope they remind drivers they need to be much slower under full caution (double yellow flags), but also the FIA officials (race control etc.) need to look at their decision to put a tractor on the track before the cars were safely out of the way
The FIA talks about “making sure we learn from this incident” but what did they learn from Bianchi’s incident? Did they learn and forget, or just not learn?

There’s less than an hour left to complete the race – as Otmar Szafnauer (Alpine principal) said to Sky a few minutes ago, the race start should probably have been scheduled to be an hour earlier because sunset it about 5:30pm local time
Race control: race will resume in 10 minutes
Drivers and teams scramble to get ready – they’ve been busy entertaining the crowd and themselves but it’s time to get back to business

Bernd Maylander leads them out of the pit lane
Radio from HAM, “Track’s pretty good”
Radio from LEC, “It’s not too bad for now”

05[SC]: Radio from VER, “It’s raining a bit more”
SC lights are out, it’ll come in at the end of this lap and there will be a rolling start
VER thinks it could be time for intermediate tyres, but he’s concerned he’ll lose a lot of places

06 (39mins left): Green light for the restart
LAT and VET pit for inters; was that an unsafe release by Aston Martin?
Pit lane incident involving VET and LAT reviewed, no further investigation

07 (38mins): NOR pits, followed by BOT
Radio from HAM, “It’s extremes right now”; he’s told “they’re losing time on the inters”
MAG inside STR for P11
Radio for RUS, “Inters are much quicker” (That’s the opposite of what HAM was just told) RUS replies “Yeah but I’ve got a clear track”

08 (36m): VER, LEC and PER all pit, as do OCO, HAM and RUS … followed by almost everyone else
VET fastest lap 1:48.401
Radio from RUS, “That was the worst decision we’ve made”
Radio for SCH telling him he’s P3 but they’re not planning to pit because they’re hoping for a SC

09 (34m): ALO and RIC pit from the lead, which means SCH is P1 for a few seconds but the VER passes the Haas
Only SCH and ZHO are still on full wet tyres
NOR f/lap 1:48.175
Replay of another pit lane incident – STR released as MAG was alongside, but if VET/LAT needed no further investigation then this is the same
LEC easily past SCH for P2
MAG inside BOT for P16

10 (32m): VER f/lap 1:45.148 – he has almost 5 sec lead over LEC
ZHO pits for inters, so SCH is the only one hanging on to wets
OCO tucked up behind SCH, blinded by the spray
HAM closing on OCO, hoping to pass both of them

30mins left; half distance would be lap 27

11 (30m): LEC f/lap 1:44.489
OCO takes P4 from SCH
HAM now passes SCH too
SCH now passed by VET

12 (28m): ALO and LAT pass SCH.. followed by NOR – Haas really should have pitted him a few laps ago
Radio from RIC asking “Is the weather stable?”; told it’s expected to stay like this to the end of the race

13: HAM closing on OCO

14 (25m): RUS right on TSU’s rear wing
HAM told “Others are starting to struggle with their fronts too”
RUS takes P10

HAM still hassling OCO over P4

16 (22m): RUS past NOR for P9
Radio from LEC asking how many positions he’ll lose if he pits; “Five; we’ll drop behind ALO”

17: under 20mins left; they should make half distance

19 (17m): Radio for HAM, “OCO is making noises about pitting”; “Let’s make sure we undercut him”
ALO looking for a way around VET
ZHO pits; more inters

20 (15m): HAM moves alongside OCO into 130R but OCO holds the line

21 (12m): HAM has another look into 130R but OCO defends P4
RUS steals P8 from LAT
ZHO f/lap 1:44.411

22 (10mins left): The front runners can’t risk a pit stop but it might be worth it for the others … but remember the point for fastest lap is only awarded if they cover at least half the race distance

23 (8m): ALO pits for new inters; rejoins P10
HAM still stuck behind OCO
PER is right on LEC’s tail

24 (7m): Radio from BOT asking for an update on STR because he can’t see anything in his mirrors; “STR now within one second”
And with that STR takes P12

25/53 (5mins left): VER, LEC, PER, OCO, HAM, VET, RUS, ALO, LAT, NOR, RIC, STR, MAG, BOT, TSU, SCH, ZHO, GAS
VER has nearly 22sec lead over LEC – will he pit and go for fastest lap?
PER still harrying LEC

And with that, my PVR recording ends! There’s timing 🙂

26 (2mins): Radio from VER, “We are not going to box for new tyres?”; “Not at the moment”

27: The clock has reached zero so there’s just one more lap
Radio from HAM, “I need more power”

28 = final lap: ALO steals P7 from RUS
VER takes the chequered flag
LEC runs wide, rejoins and defends from PER
Radio from PER whining (in textbook Red Bull fashion) “He pushed me off” … actually PER did not go off, but that’s just standard Red Bull gamesmanship
Incident involving LEC and PER under investigation – I think we can guess what the outcome of that will be

LEC is given 5-sec penalty so he’s demoted to P3
So that makes the provisional result: VER, PER, LEC, OCO, HAM, VET, ALO, RUS, LAT, NOR; RIC, STR, TSU, MAG, BOT, ZHO, SCH, GAS
Fastest lap: ZHO(!)

They only completed 28/53 laps (52%) so it’s only half points … except the FIA says that rule (Article 57) only applies when the race is suspended and cannot be resumed, so they’re awarding full points!
Wow, could the FIA make F1 stink any more than it already does?

Oh, yes they can! GAS has been given a 20-sec penalty and 2 points on his license for speeding under the red flag. I wonder how the FIA will penalise themselves for allowing heavy machinery on track when there was virtually zero visibility?
Mind you, I just saw this –

[2022 calendar and line-up]

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