Gerry Donaldson said this was a historic race, possibly the best in the history of Japanese Grand Prix. I’m afraid I have to disagree. It was certainly an entertaining race but most of the entertainment came from the conditions and the silly mistakes everyone was making. As far as actual racing is concerned it was mediocre at best.
The first 23 laps of the race were under the safety car with a real danger that the race would be abandoned. Having stayed up into the early hours of the morning to watch it, I was very relieved when they finally decided to go racing.
By that time, Ferrari were at the back of the field after starting their drivers on intermediate tyres. What were they thinking? The FIA had imposed a rule beforehand that all cars must start on full wets, but Ferrari claim the FIA’s email didn’t arrive on time. Leaving aside the dubious possibility that everyone but Ferrari would get their email on time, why did they need telling anyway? The conditions obviously demanded full wet tyres; going out on intermediates was just dumb and dangerous. (Yes, I know they’re not called intermediates any more, but that’s what they are).
Once the race was underway it was just a question of getting to the finish line without aquaplaning off the circuit or getting hit by another car aquaplaning off the circuit. Sadly Alonso was one of the first to get unlucky, in what looked like a nasty crash which brought out the second safety car.
During the second safety car period, Mark Webber and Scott Vittel became casualties too, with the blame resting firmly on Scott after he drove into the back of Mark while they were both looking good for podium positions. While Vittel was in tears on the pit wall, Mark’s subsequent interview with Louise Goodman was one of the highlights of the race:
“It’s kids isn’t it? They have not got enough experience – they do a good job and then they fuck it all up.”
The rest of the race was fairly uninteresting until there were just a few laps/minutes left. Ferrari suddenly decided to call Massa in from third place for a fourth pit stop. I haven’t been able to find their official reason for this but I’m guessing the official reason is complete fabrication and the real reason is they wanted Kimi, who was back in fifth, to get one more point.
In the end (and I’m still not sure if the end was by number of laps or the two hour deadline) Kimi came third and Massa sixth with some amazing racing from both of them in the final few seconds to try to get another place each. Hamilton did a good job to win the race, basically just keeping his car on the track through all the carnage, and Kovaleinan did a great job to get his car up to second place for his first podium.
Rain always makes a race interesting, but it’s a shame we have to rely on the weather to make Formula One entertaining.