Grand Prix 2011 Japanese Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The championship is still alive!!!!!!!!!!! Okay that may be a bit over optomistic

Despite another crushing win by Vettel in Singapore, Buttons valiant second place ensures that the championship mathematically remains possible for the experienced Britain, but for him to take his second world title he requires Vettel to not finish in all the remain races and Button to win every race and to be honest there is as much chance of me winning the lottery.

Indeed, Button has had a strong 2011 and this would be more highlighted if it wasnt for the sheer dominance of Vettel who has taken a podium in every race apart from Germany. He has outperformed his beleagured team mate Hamilton who is under severe pressure from the media after another incident, this time with Massa who didn't take kindly to it and made his feelings clear after the race.

But at Ferrari they seem to be going through the motions after a great win at Silverstone, Alonso has strong drives without challenging and Massa is regularly in the middle of the points without ever challenging the podium, surely he'll be on the way out soon as he's not performing at a level that Ferrari require him to be if they want to be serious Constructors Champions in the future.

Big news at Mercedes as Aldo Costa and Geoff Willis have joined the team, with the team struggling (in comparison) since their return to the sport in 2010, these two signings might just get them back at the front in the near future and might convince Schumacher to extend his contract, Singapore aside, Schumacher's performances have been a lot better this season and at the very least he has matched Rosberg and perhaps there is still life in the old dog yet and the podium might not be too far away.

Japan has become famous for title deciders with Prost/Senna being the most memorable with the crashes at the final chicane and turn 1 being some of the most controversial in the sport (particularly the latter after a dispute over the start position). The track is regarded as one of the best driver tracks on the calendar, second only to Spa and returned to the calendar in 2009 after Fuji pulled out of F1 due to financial problems after holding the grand prix in 2007 and 2008 where Hamilton and Alonso won respectively.

No doubt the championship will be won in Suzuka but you never know, stranger things have happened in F1, surely the reliability of the Red Bull can't hold out forever, can we hope?

For Galahads superb circuit write up see here
He started on relatively worn tyres today due to the cockup in quali, suffered another strange puncture (lost around 7seconds alone because of this) in the first stint and then subsequently slow pitstops due to issues with his rear tyre. Some of these issues were clearly beyond his control .China showed that the Pirellis don't just reward conservatism but also aggression as long as your race is not compromised by strategy and other external influences.
According to the FIA the time each of the leading drivers spent in the pit lane in total was:

Button 1min 2.805 secs
Alonso 1 min 3.197 secs
Vettel 1 min 5.675 secs
Webber 1 min 4.644 secs
Hamilton 1 min 5.204 secs

So Hamilton lost 10 seconds with the puncture and slow pit stops. Where did the other 14 seconds go?
I am not sure what you're alluding at Bill Boddy but I think we need to view the race in its entirety to find the answer to that as the numbers can only tell you so much. Track position has a direct impact on time lost or gained and you obviously lose time navigating backmarkers and racing slower cars. The puncture directly influenced his track position. I recall him and Massa sacrificing up to 1.5seconds per lap behind Rosberg and he also had to dispatch Petrov at some point.
According to the FIA the time each of the leading drivers spent in the pit lane in total was:

So Hamilton lost 10 seconds with the puncture and slow pit stops. Where did the other 14 seconds go?
Must have lost a few of them whilst running with the puncture. Lost a second to a second and a half a lap behind Rosberg. I suspect other traffic and tyre wear issues easily account for the rest.
Tbh, even though im primarily a Hamilton fan, I have to say it was a brilliant performance by Button this weekend. He was 9 thousandths of a second away from topping all 3 practice sessions, qualifying on pole, winning the race and getting the fastest lap. Pretty amazing when you think about it?

I'm not sure if Lewis would have won today had he not have endured some of the problems he had. I think his main issue was that he was clearly not making the tyres last long enough. He started off the race and built a 3 second lap to Jenson but then by lap 6 he was losing a second a lap to him. Obviously this was due to a puncture but no one has said whether the puncture was due to running over something or simply because his tyres were so worn out. That early pit stop and then a further pit stop which was about 5.5 seconds long (i.e. slow) put him out in traffic, which ruined his race. Also, Martin Whitmarsh has now said that he thinks they made some wrong wing changes in the pit stops, which meant he lost the ideal balance of the car.

I guess the other factor to take into consideration is that he should have had pole and then he'd have been starting on newer tyres as well. But he seemed to suffer from the same issues as in Hungary where he couldn't make the super-soft tyres last. I still believe that in Hungary, had McLaren put the prime tyre on when everyone else went onto it, then Hamilton would have most likely won, but without a doubt he is struggling with tyres more often than not lately.

It's strange because there has been some races this season where he has been better than Jenson on tyres and Jenson has destroyed tyres quickly (especially on intermediates). But what strikes me most is that Lewis finds it hard to hold back at a start of a stint and thus save his tyres for the long-game, which Jenson seems to be doing to great effect at the moment.

I can't help but feel the new regs and tyres have hurt him a little. I think he is best suited to re-fuelling and pretty durable tyres. He likes to be on the limit every lap and in that situation, I still believe he is the best driver on the grid (taking away some of his recent errors). With these rules im not so sure.
For those who are interested, these are the stewards' decisions on the Vettel-Button and Hamilton-Massa incidents.

Having viewed the video evidence in relation to the action of the driver of Car 1 off the start, and having
noted that Car 1 Sebastian Vettel and Car 3 Lewis Hamilton both followed similar lines off the start the
Stewards decide to take no further action.

Having viewed the video evidence in relation to the action of the driver of Car 3 at Turn 16 and after
comparing the line that Lewis Hamilton took on the previous lap, and having noted that Car 6 Felipe
Massa was attempting to overtake on the left into a right hand corner the Stewards decide to take no
further action.
Well over 50% of the post was relating to this event though so..?

Move it if you like, I don't care.

I agree, probably best suited to the thread the events described happened in ;)

I thought it was a cracking race, loads of action throughout the field, some excellent drives and overtakes, the DRS seemed just about right and a cracking result for Jenson and of course for Sebastian. Shame about Lewis' puncture, he maybe could have pipped Mark but that sums up his season really.

8 Helmets out of 10
The decision on Hamilton-Massa for once looks a sensible and logical one by the stewards. It was a strange place for Felipe to put his car.

I'm a little confused however by how they justify their decision not to penalise Vettel. I do not think he should have had a penalty personally, although I think it was very borderline. What I would say is that how does the line Hamilton took have anything to do with what Vettel did to Button. Hamilton had nothing to do with the incident and didn't have a car alongside him? If he was being compared for doing something similar then he would have also been under investigation. I don't really understand that explanation at all.

The whole point of the investigation is that Vettel pushed Button onto the grass and squeezed him to a point where it was unnecessary and potentially dangerous had Button of lost control or kept his foot in completely. There is nothing in that paragraph which explains why no action was taken.
And did it all without Hamilton having his Q3 screwed and a puncture.

Oh grow up, honestly. Jenson was the faster driver today and would have beaten Hamilton anyway. Great job by all the podium finishers, and Sergio Perez again put in a stellar drive under the radar.

An excellent race with lots of overtaking (sigh)
Anyone see Button letting Vettel know about his start line squeeze onto the grass post race. its a bit rich of Vettel to whinge about Alonso a few races ago when he was on the grass attempting a pass.

Whoever said Lewis should leave Mclaren ...did it ever occur to him his two other choices are both filled with supposedly his two big rivals who the teams love or he's going to have to take a punt at Mercedes and hope Ross BRawn is around to turn things if there is not a better German driver available for the team

We know Lewis has not got the patience to wait around for a team still playing catch up from the midfield to the front
Is Jenson the only F1 driver to win races with 3 different helmet designs

He has his traditionally JB helmet in union jack colours
He had the JB helmet painted in yellow and black when at Brawn

Then he 's worn the special commerative Japan coloured helmet - I think he should use this because it seems to be a lucky charm for him. the only other time he used it was at Monaco where he was mighty and Vettel outrageously fluked to victory
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