Japan: ah, so very different

Japan: ah, so very different

Postby meteorite » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:39 pm

Japan is on the other side of the world, its local time 13 hours ahead of Toronto. Which means their race which starts at 2 p.m. local time Sunday will appear on our TV at1 a.m. Sunday. Saturday qualifying goes an hour later, so if you have to know instantly who has the pole, prepare to stay up till around 3.30 a.m.In the real world this means we wont be posting the news until just before the start of the race, hence this "early" advance.

After the last two races, predictions are dicey. What luck Ferrari had was all bad, even if Vettel did demonstrate some new Ferrari power fighting his way from last to fourth. With championship points now all-important, attitudes may be different - Vettel did wait till he cool-off lap when they were already fixed and decided before running over Stroll, but will the gearbox damaged in that collision last through the strains of Suzuka? Changing it would set him five places down on the grid - will the gamble prove worth it?

Mercedes have had intermittent problems in the last several races with unpredictable handling in their cars at times, leaving them with less than optimal performance. But now Hamilton and Bottas say a new aerodynamics setup has cured that and their pace will be back to usual Mercedes levels. Since Bottas will be taking a five=p;ace penalty for a premature gearbox change, that will help, as the Red Bulls showed no drop-off of the speed that gave Verstappen the race and Ricciardo a podium spot in Malaysia.

But race tactics will be different, due to championship considerations. In FP1 the teams did not go for fastest times because they knew rain was on the way and then Sainz had a red-flag crash to end the session early. The deluge arrived early in FP2, with only Hamilton, and the Williams and Force India teams taking form al times as they tested rain tires. Saturday in Japan has a variable prediction; damp to drying conditions are the call for FPw3 and practice with Sunday to be hot and dry. Tire choice in the cooler temperatures of qualifying may prove critical as the top 10 must start the race on the tires used for their fastest qualifying lap - which could be very unsuitable for Sunday's race.

For the two championship contenders tactics will be crucial. With 34 points lea in hand, Hamilton can afford to finish anywhere as long as he finishers before Vettel. Vettel needs to gain an average of seven points a race for the next five races to have a hope. Bottas and RAikkonen will likely play wingmen, making any challengers from behind work very hard to ger by. The Red Bulls have everything to gain and nothing to lose so will likely drive very aggressively. This will all be conditioned mightily by starting positions, of course, and safety cars, misfiring tire strategies, mechanical issues, safety cars, penalties and all the other acts of fortune can change things. And while rain isn't forecast, Suzuka does have a reputation for changeable skies.

We'hh have to wait for what practice tells us. And it's a very diffeerent track. It is the only one in major-league racing to require drivers to turn the same number of degrees left and riht in the course of one lap. Turn 130R is the longest continuous turn in F1 racing. Racers bodies are conditioned to clockwise racing directions, as the counter-clockwise tracks are a definite minority in F1, so zarms, necks, and shoulders tire more easily. Cars are generally set up in a subtly unbalanced fashion depending on "handedness" - thus an even-handed track is an unfamilar circumstance for race engineers to deal with. Tire wear and heating characteristics are different and change how the driver must cope. Aerodyamic set-up can pose its problems too.

But because of the time zone, and a need to get some sleep some time, we can't offer qualifying result till after the race has been run, which will happen at 1 a.m. Sunday our time. But enjoy the differeence!
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Re: Japan: ah, so very different

Postby meteorite » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:41 pm

Sunday dawned sunny and bright in Suzuka, with the packed crowds enjoying the increasing warmth. The racing gods seemed to be smiling on everyone, except Ferrrari whose car was wheeled to its position on the assembly grid accompanied by an unusually large retinue of mechanics. As the engine cover was lifted and the horde descended, word was put about that a sparkplug had been detected misfiing. But as the clock ticked to start time, Ferrari declared the problem fixed, buttoned up the engine cover and moved out on its formation lap. This time Vettel would start from his inside pole position even if Raikkonen in the other Ferrari was five positi0ns back alongside Bottas, both having been penalized five starting spots for premature gearbox changes. But every car made it to the start.

Formula 1 grids are staggered, so Lewis Hamilton started with a 8-meter advantage which he held through the first corner and expanded gently during the course of the race. Verstappen jumped past Vettel and Ricciardo followed a number of corners later, as Vettel's Ferrari suddenly lost the power to resist. As the rest of the field passed by in short bursts the call came from the Ferrari pits for Vettel to limp the car back to the pits and retire it. At the same time Carlos Sainz, whom Renault is taking to replace Jolyon Palmer, stuffed his Toro Rosso in the barrier bringing out a virtual safety car. As racing resumed the field strung out into the sequence in which they would eventually finish.


2017 FORMULA 1 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - RACE RESULT

06 08 Oct 2017 Suzuka International Racing Course, Suzuka

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1:27:31.194 25
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +1.211s 18
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +9.679s 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +10.580s 12
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 53 +32.622s 10
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 53 +67.788s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 53 +71.424s 6
8 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 53 +88.953s 4
9 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 53 +89.883s 2
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap 1
11 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 52 +1 lap 0
12 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 52 +1 lap 0
13 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 52 +1 lap 0
14 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 52 +1 lap 0
15 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 51 +2 laps 0
NC 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 45 DNF 0
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 40 DNF 0
NC 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 7 DNF 0
NC 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 4 DNF 0
NC 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 0 DNF 0

The mechanical failure on Vettel's car leaves Hamilton now 59 points ahead in the Championship with three races to go. Should Hamilton win the next race at COTA in Texas Vettel must finish fifth or higher or he will be mathematically eliminated. He could even be overtaken by Bottas for second place. Nothing in racing is ever guaranteed, but Hamilton's chances of taking home the Champion's cup a few races early are very good.
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