What did we learn from the Japanese GP?


Well, we learned that motor racing is still dangerous with Bianchi’s accident, and when it rains in Japan it really does rain.

Niki Lauda expressed the general feeling in the pits when he said, “We get used to it when nothing happens and then suddenly we are all surprised. This accident today is a coming together of various different things. One car goes off, the tractor comes out and the next car comes off, and this was very unfortunate.”

Of course, this does raise the question as to the track safety procedures and the drivers’ implementation of safety features expected of them. Sutil went off on lap 40 and the tractor came out to remove his car. I believe double yellows were then displayed before that point, which relay to the following drivers that there is great danger, be prepared to stop. Bianchi then unfortunately slid off on lap 41 while under the double waved yellows, and hit the tractor, resulting in his head injury.

Yellow flags must be obeyed for the safety of the drivers, which is not always the case. At the time of writing this report, I do not have a full picture of the situation, other than the fact that Bianchi slid off the track one lap later than Sutil’s accident. We all hope that Bianchi can make a full recovery, but I would not expect him to see him racing again this year.

The Suzuka paddock was all agog with the news that the driver, formerly known as The Finger, was leaving Red Bull, and his seat was to be taken by the young Russian Daniil Kvyat. This did not surprise me at all. The blow to Vettel’s ego was terminal. A very expensive, four times world champion gets beaten by his younger team mate, who is being paid peanuts. If Vettel does go to Ferrari, his salary will be much less!

So is Alonso leaving Ferrari? He has certainly been unhappy there and his talent is being wasted. But where can he go? The only teams that could offer him the chance of winning are Williams and McLaren, and a move to Woking would have to be the more logical, turfing Button (now too old) out of his seat there.

So to the race and Suzuka under a typhoon. Much palaver that the race should have been brought forward and started a few hours earlier, by people who should know better. With an international event such as a Grand Prix, the starting time is fixed and world television schedules are worked around the fixed starting time. Even the spectators at the circuit who have purchased tickets expect a starting time as advertised. Rocking up to find the organizers started the race two hours ago is just not correct, nor practical. Once the starting time is published, that’s it!

The Mercedes team were head and shoulders above everyone, and Hamilton with his win (not faultless) showed he is World Champion elect for this year. Rosberg had no answer.

Third was Vettel, while it was his team mate Ricciardo who was third when the race was stopped. Unfortunately when races are stopped under a red flag, the positions are taken from the start of the previous lap, when Vettel actually was third and Ricciardo fourth. You win some, and you lose some!

Button drove a very clever race into fifth with excellent calls as to when to change tyres, beating the Williams of Bottas and Massa by a considerable margin.

And Alonso? Stopped on lap two behind the safety car. And you wonder why he wants to leave Ferrari?

The next race is this weekend in Russia.