Sunday 10 October 2010

Japanese GP Report: Red Bull get it right

It's always nice when your predictions come true. Admittedly, I wasn't really sticking my neck out by suggesting that the Red Bulls would run and hide at Suzuka. Long fast corners, which are in bountiful supply at Suzuka, play right into their hands, and they have all season, and the result wasn't in doubt once Kubica left proceedings early. But this is the first time this campaign that the Bulls have converted one-two on the grid into one-two in the race, which says something of their maddening inability to turn pace advantage into hard results this year. It's made it more fun for us watching on though.

Fernando Alonso and the McLarens did well to at least keep the Red Bulls honest. Fred came home third, within three seconds of the Bulls, and will be glad to have limited the damage to his championship position. He and Vettel are now level pegging in the table, 14 points behind Webber (with 25 points for a win) with three rounds left. Indeed, all three of them will be pleased enough with their weekend's work: Webber will be pleased to stretch his lead ever so slightly, and Vettel will be happy to be right back in the mix, and back on form. In a weird way you wouldn't bet against any of them for the title. Webber does need to beat Vettel somewhere to be world champion, and the way Vettel's now going that won't be easy.

The McLarens once again had a frustrating time of it. They showed decent pace in qualifying and the race, but beyond that not much went right for them. Lewis seems to have continued to offend the racing gods: he crashed in Friday practice, causing a lot of damage to his McLaren. This, in addition to the wash out of Saturday, meant that he went into qualifying with only six timed laps under his belt. Worse, he was given a five-place grid drop as his team had to change the gearbox, meaning a miraculous third place qualifying lap was converted into lining up eighth. Having made up much ground on race day, and closing on Alonso in third, just as everyone reached for their tin hats Lewis's new 'box lost third gear. This meant that fifth was the best he could do. Button finished fourth after going for a contrary tyre strategy that didn't come off. To be honest, it will now likely require a succession of things to fall their way for either McLaren pilot to take the crown this year.

To round off the top teams, there appears to be all sorts of weird going on with Felipe Massa. Both he and Luca di Montezemolo made noises in the race's build up indicating a tension between driver and team, seemingly traced back to 'team order gate' at Hockenheim in July. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that Felipe may be replaced in the Ferrari team for next season. In any case, Massa spent most of the weekend driving like a guy who is at best distracted, and at worst doesn't want to be there. He qualified down in 12th and left the stage at the first corner, creaming into the side of Liuzzi after making an amateur error.

Elsewhere, Kobayashi provided a lot of fun throughout, passing someone at the hairpin every lap its seemed. Perhaps I'm over-simplifying things, but you wonder why no one else seems to race the way he does.

Race results


  1. Hi Graham,

    Neck out,not Next out.


  2. Fixed!

    Thanks very much Dean (how on earth did I miss that?!)