2010 Japanese Grand Prix – Race Report

A fairly exciting race in Japan with plenty of crashes before the first lap was even finished. However, much of the excitement was reserved for the middle and back lot which was a shame since the Top-5 drivers in the championship were also driving the top-5 positions for much of the race.

The Top-10:

Sebastian Vettel lead the race for the most part except for when he went to the pits (the race lead was held for a time by Button). An excellent result and crucial if he hopes to win the championship. With Mark Webber following close behind it was a perfect day for Red Bull Racing.

Fernando Alonso managed to stay on pace with the Red Bulls but couldn’t catch up and drove a solid race taking the third podium.

McLaren had an uneven day. Lewis Hamilton was able to recover from his penalty (starting 8th) but couldn’t overtake Button until the latter went in to the pits. Towards the end Lewis lost his third gear which made driving difficult for him and he was forced to let Button past, thus Jenson finished 4th. Luckily the five leaders had put enough distance between themselves and the rest of the lot that no-one could overtake Hamilton and he finished 5th.

Michael Schumacher drove his best race in a while, finishing 6th and providing the only points for Mercedes GP as Nico Rosberg retired after one his rear wheels somehow went loose (I’ve no idea how this happened since the playback wasn’t very clear and it’s a real shame since Nico would have otherwise been 6th).

An excellent day for Sauber with both cars on points. Kamui Kobayashi was the definite hero of the day, starting from outside the top-10 he made several daring overtakes, some bordering on risky and was still able to rise all the way to 7th after his pitstops. I’m sure Kamui-san was especially happy to have driven such a solid race on his home turf though some of his competitors might have considered his handling of overtakes quite rough. His team-mate Nick Heidfeld also recovered from his disastrous return to the sport in Singapore to finish 8th.

Williams could have had a chance to shine today but as Nico Hülkenberg was taken out Petrov on the start it was Rubens Barrichello who had to score points for the team with a rather lowly but deserved 9th place.

Sebastian Buemi crunched himself to points after getting the handling from Kobayashi and was able to take the last point for Toro Rosso.

Golden Pineapple Award: Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) – Once again the Toro Rosso team was barely on points. Alguersuari now raises himself in a shared lead in the pineapple chart with Pedro de la Rosa, who already made his exit. With four more races to go Jaime may indeed become the Pineapple King of 2010 but let us hope he can still improve his standings to at least the same level they were at the beginning of the season. Never-the-less, Toro Rosso is now the leader of the team-chart with a total of 5 pineapples to their name.

Drop-out count: 8

Lucas di Grassi didn’t even start the race as he ran off track and hit the tyre-barrier already on the in-lap.

In the opening craziness, four drivers were taken out. Vitaly Petrov tried to get past Hülkenberg and got his rear-wheels caught in The Hülk’s front-wing causing him to veer off and hit the wall while Hülkenberg’s car was wrecked to shit. Felipe Massa was forced on to the lawn and lost grip, smashing to the side of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s car.

Renault and Force India had a miserable time in Japan. Kubica’s car lost one of its rear-wheels during the second safety-car lap (again, no video was shown how this happened) and Adrian Sutil’s engine gave out on lap 44, soon after Kobayashi had made a fantastic overtake from the German. I feel sorry for both Kubica and Sutil who are both excellent drivers and I hope they’ll have a much better time at Korea.

Back of the Lot News:

I have to take back some of the criticism I directed at Sakon Yamamoto, who re-replaced Christian Klien, and was actually able to keep Virgin‘s Timo Glock at bay for several laps. Glock did eventually get past and Yamamoto eventually wound up dead last, beaten by his team-mate Senna, who drove an otherwise unremarkable race.