Tag Archives: Japanese GP

Button leads Suzuka first practice while Vettel crashes out

Button led his teammate in first practice

Button led his teammate in first practice

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton headed the timesheets for first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The most notable event of the session was championship leader Sebastian Vettel spinning out near the end of the session. The Red Bull driver ran wide at Degner 2, slid onto the gravel and made light contact with the barriers, ending his session.

Earlier on, Vettel was seen admirably using DRS at the 130R corner without backing off.

Despite his incident, he still went 3rd, behind the two McLarens. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were 4th and 5th respecively.

Vettel walks away after minor impact with the barriers

Vettel walks away after minor impact with the barriers

Toro Rosso have shown promising pace, with Jaime Alguersuari 6th and Sebastien Buemi 8th. Bruno Senna evaluated Renault’s new bodywork upgrades, but finished just behind his teammate in 11th.

Pastor Maldonado was another driver caught out by the Suzuka track. The Williams ran wide at Turn 6, and pulled over shortly afterwards. It was a poor session for the team, with Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello completing only 19 laps between them.

Nico Hulkenberg took over Adrian Sutil’s Force India, finishing 12th. Both Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan drove their teams’ cars, and ended the session just behind their respective teammates.

Times from Friday Practice 1:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.634           20
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        1:33.725   0.091   18
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:34.090   0.456   22
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:34.372   0.738   24
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:34.426   0.792   25
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:34.937   1.303   23
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:35.585   1.951   27
 8.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:35.590   1.956   25
 9.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                1:36.033   2.399   22
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 1:36.370   2.736   18
11.  Bruno Senna           Renault                 1:36.487   2.853   18
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    1:36.700   3.066   21
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          1:36.948   3.314   24
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:36.949   3.315   22
15.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          1:37.103   3.469   29
16.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:38.197   4.563   18
17.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:38.331   4.697   11
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       1:38.446   4.812    8
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault           1:39.168   5.534   10
20.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault           1:39.946   6.312   22
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         1:40.872   7.238   13
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         1:41.019   7.385   24
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            1:41.106   7.472   25
24.  Narian Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth            1:41.775   8.141   25

DRS zone on main straight for Suzuka

DRS details for the Japanese Grand Prix

DRS details for the Japanese Grand Prix

The main straight will play host to the DRS zone for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The detection zone will be located just after the 130R corner, meaning chasing drivers will have to push hard to stay within the one second limit.

The DRS activation point begins after the final chicane, and cuts out just before the turning/braking point for Turn 1.

Vettel dominates Suzuka in Red Bull 1-2

Sebastian Vettel took victory in the Japanese Grand Prix today, ahead of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. This leaves Vettel joint 2nd in the championship, while Webber extends his lead at the front. This is what happened:

The first corner saw instant carnage, as two separate incidents resulted in the deployment of the safety car. Vitaly Petrov turned left into Nico Hulkenberg, ruining the Renault and taking out the Williams, while Felipe Massa ran wide at Turn 1, and speared into Vitantonio Liuzzi, and threw debris all over the track.

On the third lap, while the safety car was still out, Robert Kubica, who had jumped Mark Webber at the start, pulled over to retire with a missing back right wheel, which came off during the lap. This was to prove crucial to the race, as now Webber’s slow start was cancelled out, while Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton moved up the grid.

The safety car peeled away at the start of Lap 7, and the race got properly underway. The Mercedes cars gave us the great racing action, Nico Rosberg trying a move on Sebastien Buemi on 130R but ran wide, while Michael Schumacher got past Rubens Barrichello at the final chicane to take 6th.

Up front, Vettel set fastest lap after fastest lap, while Mark Webber kept him honest in 2nd. The two Red Bulls soon showed their hands, as their lap times were a half a second faster than Fernando Alonso in 3rd. Further back, Kamui Kobayashi impressed the crowd with a brave dive down the inside of Jaime Alguersuari for 10th place. He later made the same move on Adrian Sutil on Lap 19.

Sutil soon pitted, and triggered a charge for the pit lane. Barrichello and Alguersuari soon followed, and were among the fastest on track, prompting Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher to make the change. Lewis emerged behind Kobayashi, but quickly made a move on the main straight to get himself clear track ahead.

Once the Red Bulls and Alonso pitted, Button was left in the lead, while Hamilton set a chain of fastest laps on a new set of tyres, and got closer and closer to Fernando Alonso. In 2nd and 3rd, Mark Webber was getting very close to Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to be struggling with his tyres.

Button finally pitted on Lap 39, and handed the lead back to Vettel. Kobayashi stopped also, and dropped to 11th place. Hamilton, however, was in trouble, telling his team that his gearbox had lost 3rd gear, which is surprising considering the gearbox change he had yesterday.

He began to lose up to 2 seconds per lap to team-mate Button, and Jenson soon sailed past on Lap 44. This left the McLarens 4th and 5th.

Kamui Kobayashi was down to 12th, but decided to make another banzai move on Jaime Alguersuari around the outside. However, Jaime made a silly mistake, by banging wheels with Kobayashi when he had already gotten past. The Toro Rosso sustained damage to his front wing and was forced to pit. The Sauber had damage to its sidepod and turning vane, but was able to continue.

Adrian Sutil’s engine exploded on Lap 46, spewing oil over the back wheels, and forced the Force India into a perilous spin at 130R, but was well held by Sutil, though he was still forced to retire.

Button tried to put pressure on Alonso’s 3rd place, but was just too far back to be a concern to the Ferrari team. With 5 laps to go, a huge crash occured at Turn 5, when Nico Rosberg’s back left wheel flew straight off the car, spearing the car into the barriers, although the safety car was not deployed.

In the last few laps, a fantastic battle began between team-mates Nick Heidfeld and Kamui Kobayashi was the focus of attention. As expected, a dive down the inside of the hairpin was the way to get into 7th place.

After all of this, Sebastian Vettel crossed the line first, to take a dominant win, and push himself back into the title fight. Mark Webber was 1 second behind, and Fernando Alonso 3rd. Button and Hamilton were 4th and 5th, while Schumacher Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Barrichello and Buemi took the rest of the points. Heikki Kovalainen was 12th, which almost definitely secures Lotus’ 10th place in the constructors championship.

A dominant 1-2 was the minimum expected result by Red Bull, and helped both drivers in their championship assault at the same time. Ferrari didn’t expect to match Red Bull, so 3rd position was well-appreciated by Alonso. McLaren, meanwhile, were slightly disappointed by Button’s failed strategy.

Despite all of this, Webber didn’t leave Vettel all the glory. On the very last lap, the Australian took the fastest lap, to steal the jewel in Sebastian’s crown.

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.

Vettel takes pole position for Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. He will be joined on the front row by Mark Webber, and followed by Robert Kubica, after Lewis Hamilton’s 5-place penalty. Here is the full report:


As the session began, it was quickly apparent that the track hadn’t completely dried out, as the contours had resulted in patches of wet tarmac appearing in places, despite the sunshine. With this in mind, Jenson Button went out on intermediates, while everyone else stayed on slicks.

Button pitted without setting a lap, so it was a clear indication of the conditions. Having said that, the times were well away from those seen in Friday Practice. The fastest lap in the first 5 minutes was a 1.32.858 by Rubens Barrichello.

It took another few minutes before the Red Bulls and McLarens went out on track,  but they were cautious for their first few laps. Eventually, Sebastian Vettel went one tenth quicker than the two Williams cars.

Nico Rosberg did well to get into 3rd place, while Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld struggled down in 13th and 14th.

Robert Kubica was the final driver to leave the pits, but could only go 13th. Meanwhile, Sebastien Buemi had a very poor set of laps, and couldn’t get himself out of the drop zone. He was 18th, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Sebastien Buemi

19) Jarno Trulli

20) Heikki Kovalainen

21) Lucas di Grassi

22) Timo Glock

23) Bruno Senna

24) Sakon Yamamoto


As Q2 began, the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa went fastest within minutes, before Mark Webber went another tenth faster with a 1.31.651. Jenson Button went 2nd, Sebastian Vettel 4th, and Lewis Hamilton 5th.

It soon emerged that the “green” track, which means it isn’t rubbered in, wasn’t working well with the soft tyres, prompting many teams to change their tyre strategies, such as Nico Hulkenberg.

The next two cars to make a move were the Mercedes drivers of Nico Rosberg and Schumacher, going 7th and 10th. Felipe Massa was stuck in 11th, but several backmarkers ruined his first attempt. Kamui Kobayashi was very close to knocking out Michael Schumacher, but braked too late for the final corner and messed up his lap, leaving him 14th.

Massa had a very disappointing final lap, while Nick Heidfeld momentarily took 10th from Schumacher, until Michael’s final lap took back the position.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld

12) Felipe Massa

13) Vitaly Petrov

14) Kamui Kobayashi

15) Adrian Sutil

16) Jaime Alguersuari

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi


With the start of Q3, Lewis Hamilton was the first out, surely to try and make up for his 5-place grid penalty. Contrary to belief that there would be a split between the hard and soft tyres, most drivers were going out on the soft tyres, with the notable exception of Jenson Button.

Lewis got the ball rolling with a 1.31.3, which Fernando Alonso was unable to beat. Mark Webber went 2 tenths faster than Alonso, before Vettel smashed that time by another 0.4 seconds.

With 3 minutes to go, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg went out on track, with Button on the harder tyre. His first attempt was poor, with only 4th. Hamilton jumped to 2nd, before Mark Webber took the position back. Nobody could get near Sebastian Vettel, who still decided to improve upon his time by 0.007 seconds. Hamilton’s penalty now leaves Robert Kubica 3rd, Fernando Alonso 4th, Button 5th, followed by Rosberg, Barrichello, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Schumacher.

This was Sebastian’s 8th pole position of the year, and it is critical to win this race later if he is to keep up his title hopes.

Suzuka qualifying washout in pictures

As we all know, this morning’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying session did not go ahead, after torrential rain flooded the track and pit lane.

Even before qualifying, conditions were still torrential

Even before qualifying, conditions were still torrential

With this in mind, I thought I’d put up a few pictures of Saturday in Suzuka, to have a look at what the teams and drivers got up to during the postponed session…

First of all, several teams, such as Red Bull, Sauber and Lotus decided to make boats and race them down the pit lane. Apparently Heikki Kovalainen stole a fire exit sign to use for his, but I can’t find any photos to prove it!

Red Bulls' attempt at boat racing down the pit lane

Red Bulls' attempt at boat racing down the pit lane

The best boat in the paddock in my opinion - the S.S Sauber

The best boat in the paddock in my opinion - the S.S Sauber

Meanwhile, Virgin decided they would use their slick tyres to good use – by using them as seats for a few rounds of poker:

Lucas di Grassi seems to have the edge over Timo Glock..

Lucas di Grassi seems to have the edge over Timo Glock..

Sebastian Vettel borrowed one of Sutton Images’ SLR cameras, and apparently wasn’t too bad at it:

Sebastian Vettel tries his hand at photography

Sebastian Vettel tries his hand at photography

It might have been fun for them, but I’m just looking forward to the racing tomorrow. I’ll just leave you with a reminder that a wet pit lane is slippier than some would have thought…

Hamilton suffers 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change

Lewis Hamilton has been handed a 5-place grid penalty, after changing his gearbox in Saturday Practice earlier today. However, it is still unknown where he will start, as qualifying has been delayed until 2:00 GMT tomorrow morning, after heavy rain this morning.

This change explains why Hamilton took such little part in Friday Practice 2, as many had previously believed his car was being repaired after his crash in FP1.

However, it has now been confirmed that an unauthorised gearbox change occurred, as his previous gearbox had not lasted 4 races. McLaren explained the move:

“In P3 [final practice] we noticed abnormal gearbox oil pressure on Lewis’s car which we believed we had corrected ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session,” read a McLaren team statement.

“This afternoon, as we fired up Lewis’s car several times in preparation for qualifying, we became aware that the symptoms were worse than we’d originally diagnosed.

“A decision was later taken to change the gearbox ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session and the grand prix. As a result, Lewis will receive a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race.”

This will serve as another blow to Lewis’ title hopes, as he sits 20 points behind current championship leader Mark Webber.

Qualifying postponed until Sunday after torrential rain

Japanese GP qualifying has been postponed until tomorrow

Japanese GP qualifying has been postponed until tomorrow

Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix has been postponed until Sunday morning, after a torrential rain storm hit the track, and will continue for several hours. As the track will be dark by the time the rain gets anywhere near calming down, the stewards have taken the decision to delay qualifying until tomorrow.

In Saturday Practice, 3 hours before qualifying, conditions were just as horrendous, with only Jaime Alguersuari and Timo Glock setting a lap time, and not without a few spins either. Any driver who went out, even those who didn’t set a lap, said it was completely impossible to drive.

While it has not yet been confirmed, it is believed that the session will now begin at 10am local time (2am GMT), and there is no news yet about what broadcasters will be showing the sessions live. However, there may well be clashing times with the Commonwealth Games coverage on some networks.

As for today, there was nothing to do apart from watch the teams make boats and race them down the flooded pit lane. It is not yet know how wet the track will be for qualifying tomorrow, but I will update as soon as I hear about it.

Vettel stays on top in Suzuka FP2

Sebastian Vettel continued to extend his lead over the other drivers in Friday Practice this morning, as he set the fastest lap for the second time today in Suzuka. He was 3 tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel continued to lead FP2 today

Sebastian Vettel continued to lead FP2 today

Robert Kubica was again impressive in 3rd, although he had a high-speed spin into the gravel trap during the session, where he was lucky to keep the car going. In 4th and 5th were Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, though amazingly they were a full second slower than the Red Bulls.

Jenson Button was very close behind in 6th. Lewis Hamilton’s car was fully repaired from his crash in FP2 with 10 minutes to go, and only set 8 laps. His fastest was only enough for 13th place.

Vitaly Petrov was 7th, ahead of Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg. Kamui Kobayashi was 12th, after another eventful session of running wide multiple times. His team-mate Nick Heidfeld was 15th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi struggled behind the two Toro Rossos in 18th place. Heikki Kovalainen continued to be the fastest driver of the new teams in 19th, ahead of Jarno Trulli. Lucas di Grassi took back his race seat from Jerome D’Ambrosio and was 21st behind Timo Glock.

Times from FP2:

Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.465 32
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.395 29
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.200 0.735 32
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.362 0.897 34
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.519 1.054 35
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.068 28
7 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.238 32
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.831 1.366 27
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.377 26
10 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.851 1.386 26
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.880 1.415 26
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.006 31
13 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.016 8
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.564 2.099 16
15 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.697 2.232 33
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.540 32
17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.055 2.590 37
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.310 2.845 33
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.095 4.630 37
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.868 33
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.165 28
22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.834 5.369 28
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.352 5.887 33
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.831 6.366 34

Hamilton crashes out in Japanese FP1 while Vettel leads

Continuing from his dominant victory last year, Sebastian Vettel lead the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka this morning.


Sebastian Vettel led the first practice session in Suzuka today

Sebastian Vettel led the first practice session in Suzuka today


However, Lewis Hamilton’s weekend got off to a terrible start, after crashing into the barriers at Degner, after setting only 9 laps. He ran wide, hit the gravel, and took off most of the front left suspension. He took no further part in the session.

Jenson Button had a simiar moment near the end of the session, but kept his car on track. Despite setting twice as many laps though, Button was 12th, half a second behind Hamilton in 5th.

Up front, Vettel led with a 1.32.585, though Mark Webber was well within striking distance, only 0.05 seconds behind his team-mate. Robert Kubica was half a second behind in 3rd. Adrian Sutil was another 0.5 slower in 4th.

Lewis Hamilton's car being removed from the track

Lewis Hamilton's car being removed from the track

Behind this group came the two Williams drivers, Schumacher, and Nick Heidfeld in 9th, 4 tenths quicker than Kamui Kobayashi.

The Ferraris were 11th and 13th, suggesting that they would be running heavy fuel loads. Vitaly Petrov struggled in 15th, while Buemi and Alguersuari were the slowest of the established teams. The 3 new teams were quite off the pace, with Heikki Kovalainen 4.3 seconds off Vettel’s time.

Jerome D’Ambrosio, in his first practice session in a Formula 1 car, was 22nd, and only 4 tenths off Timo Glock. Bruno Senna and Sakon Yamamoto filled the back row.

Times from FP1:

Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’32.585 23
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’32.633 0.048 23
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1’33.129 0.544 23
4 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’33.639 1.054 13
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.643 1.058 9
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.677 1.092 21
7 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’33.707 1.122 24
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’33.739 1.154 20
9 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.791 1.206 23
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’33.831 1.246 9
11 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’33.929 1.344 25
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.042 1.457 19
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’34.169 1.584 23
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’34.271 1.686 19
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’34.373 1.788 24
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.379 1.794 21
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.991 2.406 26
18 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’35.684 3.099 22
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.949 4.364 25
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.329 4.744 17
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’37.388 4.803 23
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’37.778 5.193 23
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’38.814 6.229 28
24 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’39.443 6.858 26