What did we learn from the Japanese Grand Prix?


Well, we learned that Lewis Hamilton did not win the World Driver’s Championship – Ferrari gave it to Mercedes. For two Grands Prix in a row, Ferrari had mechanical problems with the cars on the grid with mechanics working feverishly, but they were unable to get Vettel’s car to run properly.

Here we have the most expensive race cars in the world and Ferrari had Vettel’s car just sitting in the pits for hours, to go out and discover a problem. The official reply from the Italians was that it was a spark plug problem. And if you believe that, remember to leave a glass of milk and some cookies out for Santa on Xmas Eve.

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So the race that was expected to be a virtual shoot-out for the WDC with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) on pole and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) alongside did not eventuate. The eagerly awaited wheel to wheel “mano e mano” gladiatorial contest did not eventuate with Vettel’s Ferrari withdrawing on lap 4, but the race ended up being between Hamilton and everyone’s favorite cloggy Max Verstappen (Red Bull), not that Max was ever close enough to indulge in some youthful wheel banging. Second was as good as he was going to get.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), who is turning into a ‘safe hands’ driver while the world wants him to show the aggression that he is capable of, joined his 20 year old team mate on the podium.

The (very much) second string Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, started fifth and finished fourth (Vettel DNF elevating him on the track). I hope Bottas has signed the new contract for 2018 because he is only showing second driver results. Do not look for Valtteri in 2019.

The other Finn, Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), a driver who can turn it on, but falls asleep too often, came fifth, but ruing the fact that Ferrari has once again settled into the doldrums. “We have made a lot of improvements over the last few years as a team, but now, for whatever reason, we suddenly seem to have technical issues coming out from nothing. It’s kind of weird, our cars are running perfectly and suddenly on Sunday there is a problem that nobody expects.” Don’t worry Kimi, it’s only a spark plug. My B-Quik garage can fix it, no waiting.

The FIndia twins Ocon and Perez behaved themselves to come in sixth and seventh ahead of the Haas drivers Magnussen and then Grosjean, top man in the complaints department.

Massa (Williams) continued to confound, so small he needs a booster seat from the restaurant and in the points (just) again in 10th.

Jolyon Palmer (Renault second string) bade the team goodbye. You will never hear or see of him again.

Looking at the retirements, Hulkenberg (Renno –said while holding nose to get the correct French accent) had the DRS wing stuck open. The mechanics were ready with a bigger hammer but it was too little, too late.

And Sainz, going to Renault, left a bag of carbon fiber as a farewell present for his engineers at Toro Rosso.

The next GP is the American on October 22. Telecast at 2 a.m. in Thailand.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 M Verstappen Red Bull

3 D Ricciardo Red Bull

4 V Bottas Mercedes

5 K Raikkonen Ferrari

6 E Ocon Force India

7 S Perez Force India

8 K Magnussen Haas

9 R Grosjean Haas

10 F Massa Williams

11 F Alonso McLaren

12 J Palmer Renault

13 P Gasly Toro Rosso

14 S Vandoorne McLaren

15 P Wehrlein Sauber


L Stroll Williams

N Hulkenberg Renault

M Ericsson Sauber

S Vettel Ferrari

C Sainz Toro Rosso