What did we learn from the Japan GP?


We learned that the world driver’s championship has now been well and truly won by young Mr. Vettel in the Red Bull.  He has been the stand-out driver all year and he deserves the title.  And I sincerely hope that now he has won, perhaps he will stop waving the index finger at every available TV camera.  There is a fine line dividing youthful enthusiasm and arrogance.  However, he has changed it to two fingers, one on each hand.  Will somebody please tell him?  He was also very lucky not to be penalized with his veering start technique to push Button on the grass.  His third place in the GP was enough to clinch the crown.

Although the spoils went to Vettel, for me, the drive of the day came from Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes) who steered his car into first place and held the position to the flag.  He is also currently in second place in the driver’s championship, and now undoubtedly the “Number 1” driver at McLaren.  Sorry all you Hamilton fans out there.

Another well-deserved second outright in the race by Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).  He is certainly driving with intelligence, an ability which is not seen in all the current drivers.

Fourth was Mark Webber (Red Bull) who has been outclassed by his young team mate all 2011 season.  If he wasn’t the “Number 2” at Red Bull before, he certainly is now.

Fifth was the controversial Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), who has seen his standings slip all year, and has become more and more frantic in his driving and botched passing maneuvers.  Yet again he managed to hit Massa (Ferrari) and yet again knocked the end plate off the front wing.  Some magnetic attraction perhaps?  An interesting observation that came from the ex-Ferrari F1 driver Eddie Irvine (Jnr), relayed to me by Eddie (Snr) after the race, is the thought that perhaps Hamilton is sitting too low in the car and just doesn’t see the proximity of the cars around him.  That might just explain it.

An observation about these ridiculous front wings on the cars this year.  They are wider than the front wheelbase, so the end plates are obviously going to be the first part of the car to be hit in any close encounters, leaving shards of carbon-fiber everywhere, resulting in another Safety Car period.  Am I the sole voice of reason here?

Sixth, and even a mid-point race leader at one stage, was Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).  The old master seems to have a new lease of life and he has left his team mate, the young pretender, Nico Rosberg wallowing in his wake.  If Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn could only deliver a car with championship winning capabilities we would be seeing the ‘Schumacher leap’ once more.  Perhaps in 2012?

Despite the upbeat comments from the BBC commentators, I did not see this as a “cracker” of a race, I am afraid.  Despite KERS and DRS there was a dearth of overtaking, and the final positions depended on how well your team ‘guessed’ the tyre strategy.  Does Pirelli really think that tyres that fall to bits in 10 laps are a good advertisement for the brand?  I don’t.

Finally, the Japanese fans were ecstatic to see Kamikaze Kobayashi seventh on the grid after qualifying, a position that he could not even vaguely defend during the race.  There was some controversy about his grid position after qualifying, and I am enough of an old cynic to say that there could have been some ‘influential figures’ suggesting that the Japanese driver’s high grid slot would attract more Japanese spectators.  Corruption in ‘Le Sport Pure’?  Surely not?