Jules Bianchi

At the time of posting this review, there was limited news on the incident involving Jules Bianchi but there was a serious accident and several tweets stating that Jules Bianchi was unconscious and taken by ambulance and not by helicopter. According to Sky Sports F1, Bianchi went off the track at the same spot as Adrian Sutil and crashed into the tractor that was in the process of removing Sutil’s car. Our prayers are with Jules Bianchi, his family and friends.

Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa was very candid in telling Sky that the race started too soon as it was bad conditions and stopped too late when it was far too wet to continue and this accident happened because of it. It must be said that there was a massive pall in the paddock and the eyes of everyone interviewed post-race looked positively shocked.

The Race

The Japanese Grand Prix had a shaky start as bans of rain rolled into the area ahead of typhoon Phanfone. The FIA started the race under Safety Car conditions and ran for three laps—officially logged.

The complication was amplified by a red flag on lap three. It must be said that the second lap was actually completed as the Safety Car brought the grid back down pit lane and parked them for the red flag. The completion of two laps means that half-points would be awarded should the race not resume due to rain.

After 20 minutes or so, the race started again behind the safety car as the rain lifted. No matter how bad the conditions were, Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, told the team that the Safety Car was not going fast enough. Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel, said he was aquaplaning at 80kph.

As the cars restarted after a 20-minute delay, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso came to a halt at turn 4 and retires the car.

On lap nine, the race started in anger and McLaren’s Jenson Button made a cheeky call to immediately pit for intermediate rain tires. Button leaped ahead of nearly all the driver and settled into 3rd place just behind the Mercedes duo.

On lap 14, the Mercedes of Rosberg pit for inters and Hamilton a lap later but couldn’t manage to undercut Nico during the tire change.

Some great passing on laps 16 through 19 by the Red Bull duo as both drivers picked off both Williams drivers in fine fashion. The Williams suffering in the rain from a lack of downforce which would normally play right into their hands if the race were dry. At this point, the Red Bull’s had 14 seconds to make up in order to catch McLaren’s Jenson Button in third.

As the Red Bull’s charged forward, the Mercedes seemed to be losing pace and were slower than the Red Bull duo. By lap 25, Sebastian Vettel had taken five seconds out of the leaders, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

On lap 29, Lewis Hamilton took the lead from his teammate, Nico Rosberg, who was struggling with oversteer and worn rear tires. Hamilton, presumably, saved his rears and wasn’t suffering having hounded Nico for a handful of laps.

Hamilton pulled out a immediate three second lead over Rosberg and Button started reeling him in making you wonder why Mercedes didn’t pit Nico much earlier knowing he was struggling so much.

On lap 32, Jenson Button pit and the team had to change his steering wheel costing valuable time and third place to Sebastian Vettel. His teammate also had to change his steering wheel earlier in the race due to electrical issues. Vettel then started setting lap times that were two and three seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg respectively. Mercedes finally decided to pit Nico to cover Vettel’s pace.

Win

Win

The rain turned Red Bull into winners as the duo fought with the top runners. Vettel’s mistake on lap 39 was not a great moment but the Red Bull’s in the rain managed to neutralize the Williams duo and make a race of it.

Jenson Button’s choice decision to immediately change to inters at race start paid big dividends and allowed him to be a podium threat for most of the race. Unfortunately, Button started to lose grip and fell victim to a charging Ricciardo but managed to do an over/under at retain his place in fourth until lap 42 when he conceded the place.

Button pit for full-wet tires on lap 43 but the safety car released on lap 44 didn’t help his strategy.

Fail

Fail

When a driver is injured, we all lose.

Mercedes seemed to be missing the strategy calls by leaving Nico Rosberg out too long—although they were trying to get to the end on one more pit stop—and then left Lewis Hamilton out too long in traffic on tires that were off the pace of the Red Bulls. Having said that, it worked out in the end as Lewis and Nico finished 1,2 so my critique isn’t too accurate apparently.

Ferrari suffered another DNF for Fernando Alonso at the re-start at turn four and Kimi Raikkonen toiled around in midfield or worse. Alonso had qualified well but the car turned itself off.

WTH

The length behind the safety car at the start was a bit long, no? In hindsight, many pundits are questioning the start time of the race knowing there were heavy rains coming but the promoters decided not to change the start time. Had the race started slightly earlier, we may have made it to the end of the 53 laps.

Results

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h51m43.021s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h51m52.201s 9.180s
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 1h52m12.143s 29.122s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1h52m21.839s 38.818s
5 Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 1h52m50.571s 1m07.550s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1h53m36.794s 1m53.773s
7 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1h53m38.147s 1m55.126s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1h53m38.969s 1m55.948s
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso/Renault 1h53m50.659s 2m07.638s
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
14 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Mercedes 1 Lap
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Renault 1 Lap
16 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Renault 1 Lap
17 Marcus Ericsson Caterham/Renault 1 Lap
18 Max Chilton Marussia/Ferrari 1 Lap
19 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham/Renault 1 Lap
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia/Ferrari Spun off
21 Adrian Sutil Sauber/Ferrari Spun off
Fernando Alonso Ferrari Retirement

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John The Race Fan (@JohnTheRaceFan)
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John The Race Fan (@JohnTheRaceFan)

Am I the only one who came away with some disappointment in the race itself, especially after all the pre-race hype? There were too many laps under safety car. Justified or not, the amount of time spent circulating behind the Safety Car or under red flag caused interest to wane, which was in stark contrast to the interest going into the race because of the typhoon and silly season announcements. I like wet races. Today’s race was far beyond a mere ‘wet race’. The idea of trying to hold a race with a typhoon bearing down on you is stupidity… Read more »

nem0
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nem0

“Am I the only one who came away with some disappointment in the race itself, especially after all the pre-race hype?” Nope, I’m with you on that. I tuned in when the first safety car had about 4 laps left and went to bed around lap 37 because it just wasn’t compelling enough to keep me from falling asleep. I like wet races, because the wild card element gives the midfield and backmarker teams a fighting chance, but this one felt more chaotic than usual. But let’s be honest here, typhoon is the Pacific word for hurricane, for those of… Read more »

Jason Smith
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Jason Smith

I agree with the opinion that there were entirely too many safety car laps at race start. When drivers are immediately stopping for inters, you spent too damn long behind the safety car.
Best wishes to Jules Bianchi, he’s shown a lot of promise and I think I speak for a lot of fans in hoping his career isn’t tragically cut short.

Jason Smith
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Jason Smith

Upon further thought, another Fail goes to NBC Sports coverage. It was painful listening to Leigh Diffey praddle-on while it was obvious something was terribly wrong on track. It only took one look at the Marussia garage to tell that.

Samouri
Member
Samouri

Rosberg may have been struggling with his tires, but later admitted that under the current conditions that, Lewis was just faster today. Great pass by Hamilton on his part to take the lead, and eventual race win.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/116176

Let’s hope that Jules recovers from this terrible incident.

Cody
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Cody

For me the drivers were very controlled. The entire race was wet but there wasn’t the expected amount of running wide, or very wide for that matter, apart from the accidents. Maybe the cars are just too easy to drive… Mercedes wants to stay out of team orders so much that it cost Nico in a previous race (the track escapes me) and could have done the same with them both at Suzuka. Good thing they are still winning because it is saving the WDC for them. However, had they imposed orders during those races and would do so in… Read more »

jeff
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jeff

Having just watched the GP with the hindsight of the day’s tragedies, discussing an inanity is helpful to me. FOM’s side by side graphics of Hamilton and Rosberg’s inputs during their battle was fascinating. Hamilton jockeys throttles and brakes moreso, oftentimes overlapping the two. I’m no expert, but Hamilton seems to rotate the car more with the binders, setting the attitude, than Rosberg, and judging from brake balance settings on the wheel seems to like more bias towards the front than his teammate. Hamilton also got to full throttle earlier than him. Rosberg, for lack of proper verbiage, seemed to… Read more »

mini696
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mini696

Thumbs down to the length of the first SC. When drivers are quicker on inters, it has been too long.

Pat S.
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Pat S.

On the Bianchi tragedgy, I wonder if it would have been any different at all in a car with the 2013 nose assembly. It looks like he completely submarined the tractor and I can’t help wondering if it would have somehow been any different with the higher nose and impact structure. It was such an awful crash at such speed, that it might not have made a difference, but it will be interesting to see if the FIA report examines that issue. Just terrible.