The 2019 Japanese Grand Prix will be remembered as the race that secured a 6th constructor’s and driver’s championship for Mercedes. It may also be mentioned as one of five races in the history fo the sport that had it’s qualifying session moved to Sunday morning due to a typhoon named Hagibis.
Regardless of which storyline you choose to remember, there were other elements to this race and as well mop up from a damp weekend, let’s review a few of the fallout stories from the weekend.
Ferrari and Charles Leclerc were both given penalties for not boxing their damaged car after clashing with Max Verstappen and these combined to drag Charles from 6th to 7th in classification.
On one hand you might argue that the broken piece fell off and the wing was fine after that but when it did fall off, it came close to hitting Lewis Hamitlon’s cockpit area. In fact, it sheered his rearview mirror off his Mercedes. Errant wings can be dangerous when dangling off of a car at speed as the tragedy of Justin Wilson can attest to.
I find this story interesting as the FIA have directed to sealing of the Renault’s ECU and steering wheel in order to inspect the units due to a protest lodged by Racin gPoint. The theory asserted is that Renault have a sophisticated brake bias system that is pre-set and distance dependent according to the Autosport report.
It says that Racing Point prepared a 12-page dossier on the complaint which suggests they were working on this a while and had their suspicions. The Renault duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo had a bad qualifying session starting toward the back of the grid but managed to turn that around and complete in the top 10 for a dual-points finish.
If they are found in breach of the regulations, that could not only threaten their Japanese GP results but possibly their season.
It seems the checkered flag (yes, it’s an American spelling of that term folks) light was engaged on lap 52 instead of lap 53 and this did have an impact on Serigo Perez who was running 9th on the previous lap but out of the race on the final lap. Nico Hulkenberg was moved down to 10th and Lance Stroll to 11th.
The stewards did review Sebastian Vettel’s false start but deemed it within the allowable tolerance of a F1 jump start. Watching onboard footage, you could see him lurch and then stop and start again. In the end it cost him a possible win or at least the lead and I reckon the stewards were satisfied he did not gain from his jump start.