Moto3: Merciless Masia in Motegi

Image Credit: MotoGP

Leopard Racing’s Jaume Masia conquered Motegi today in Japan. Masia in full command at the front, as his title rivals all squabbled behind gifting Masia the win.

All change in the Moto3 championship as Masia now sits at the top. Championship rival’s Ayumu Sasaki finished 2nd after snatching it on the line from Daniel Holgado finishing in 3rd. Deniz Öncü pushed it too far and into the gravel after battling at the front for so long. 

Image Credit: Leopard Racing

AS IT HAPPENED

Stefano Nepa and Öncü had a great start off the line, Nepa from row 2 and up to 3rd after turn 1. Holgado up to 2nd with Öncü leading the way at the front of the race. Öncü was keen to pull away at the front and into turn 5 was followed by Holgado and Nepa with a slight gap to the rest of the pack lead by Masia.

Alonso pushed Ortola but unable to get by as they come down the hill into sector 4 to complete the first lap. Diogo Moreira was up 5 places at the end of lap 1 but front row starter Matteo Bertelle was down 7 places. Bertelle later retiring out of the race after 7 laps. Not the race the Rivacold Snipers Team rider would of dreamt of last night.

Onto lap 2 and Masia quickly caught and went by Nepa. Home favourite Sasaki followed Masia going by Nepa into turn 7. Öncü and Holgado lead at the front with a 0.374 gap to Masia in 3rd. Masia swapped fastest lap times with Öncü, as Masia was keen to catch the leaders with Sasaki for company.

In the early stages of the race a lead group quartet developed. Masia and Sasaki caught up to Holgado and race leader Öncü. Into the 90 degree corner Sasaki missed a half hearted attempt to get by Holgado as they completed the first third of the race.

The lead group of 4 pulled away from the rest with a gap of 1.046 seconds to Nepa leading the rest of the field in 5th. Sasaki into sector 3 got by Holgado as they went through the tunnel and onto the last two corners to complete the lap. Öncü lead the group of 4 with Sasaki 2nd, Holgado 3rd and Masia in 4th.

Lap 6 and Masia went by Holgado and Sasaki midway through the lap. Out of turn 10 and onto the straight, Masia broke as late as he could to keep 2nd and hunt down Öncü to start lap 7.

Masia into turn 1 took the lead of the race for the first time. Sasaki into turn 3 went up the inside of Öncü. Öncü went backwards as Masia looked to escape at the front. Holgado almost come together with Öncü at turn 7. Into turn 11 and with the slipstream Sasaki was unable to get by Masia through turns 11, 12 and 13.

10 laps to go and the lead quarter lead by Masia are still over 1 second ahead of the group behind lead by Nepa. Holgado swarmed all over the back of Öncü but was unable to get by. Sasaki sat on the back wheel of Masia as they crossed the line as we approached the second half of the race.

Nepa and Ortola closed the gap slightly to the lead group at the front, as Masia seemed to be managing the pace. Öncü into turn 7 on the fastest place on the track blasted by Sasaki. Sasaki and Öncü swapped places as Sasaki went by Öncü only a few corners later. A fantastic battle for the win with the front 4 riders forever dicing for the lead.

 

8 laps to go and Masia lead with Sasaki 2nd, Öncü 3rd and Holgado 4th. A gap of 1.129 seconds to teammates Nepa and Ortola behind. Sector 1 lit up with yellow flags as the first retirement of the race Xavi Artigas went down at turn 1.

Sasaki, Öncü and Holgado diced and swapped places. Öncü down and out of the race into turn 10. Öncü pushed too hard and out in sector 3. Disaster for any championship hopes for Öncü and looked to of handed Masia a lead and win of this race with all of the fighting on lap 11.

Masia pulled a 1.117seconds gap to the fighting Holgado and Sasaki behind and now in full control of the race at this point.

Holgado and Sasaki almost come together in turn 1 with 6 laps to go. As the battle for 6th continued lead by Moreira, Masia was 1.209 seconds clear at the front of Sasaki 2nd and Holgado 3rd.

Tatsuki Suzuki down at turn 1 with 4 laps to go. Sasaki tried to catch Masia and pulled back over 3 tenths of a second to the leader up ahead. Sasaki and Holgado squashed any fighting now and both gunning to catch Masia at the front.

Masia lead with 3 laps to go. Sasaki and Holgado still 0.875 seconds behind. Still the ever changing places of 4th and 5th between teammates Ortola 4th Nepa 5th. The Angellus MTA  teammates although on their own for the race, have had a great battle with each other in Motegi.

2 laps to go and Masia responds to the charge from Sasaki and Holgado behind. Masia in full command here and headed to the top of the world championship standings. Nepa now lead Ortola as the two Angellus MTA teammates have over 3 seconds gap to the rest of the field, lead by Moreira down in 6th.

THE LAST LAP 

Alonso barged his way by Toba into 8th. Moreira still lead the group with Munoz all over the back of him at the start of the last lap.

In an attempt to salvage as many points as possible, Holgado went up the inside of Sasaki into sector 3 at turn 11.

Masia crossed the line to take a back-to-back victory. As Masia won the drama wasn’t finished there as Sasaki snatched 2nd from Holgado on the finish line. A mistake from victory corner from Holgado allowed Sasaki to take 2nd on the line away from Holgado. Through the final corner Holgado nearly lost it and Sasaki pounced to take 2nd place.

The 9th career win for Leopard Racing’s Masia and arguably his most important. Masia now leading the championship in Moto3 and heads to Mandalika in a couple of weeks time the main man to beat. What a win for Masia!

Race Classification

Image Credit: MotoGP

Championship Standings

Image Credit: MotoGP

 

Moto2: Chantra Storms to Pole in Japan!

Image Credit: MotoGP

Delight for IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia with a stunning 1-2 here at their home Grand Prix in Japan. Somkiat Chantra was on fire today in Motegi and so far this weekend has been fastest in every session in Moto2. Chantra took pole with teammate Ai Ogura 2nd, and Jake Dixon rounding off the front row in 3rd.

Disaster for Tony Arbolino today qualifying in 13th place. With championship rival Pedro Acosta heading up the second row tomorrow in 4th. Arbolino has it all to do in tomorrow’s race, to try and stop Acosta running away with the championship this year. 

Image Credit: MotoGP

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

Jake Dixon lead the pack out of the pits onto the track for the Q1 session. Dixon a shock name in the session and had never failed so far this season to get into Q2.

As Dixon approached the end of his out lap, several riders were queuing ready to follow Dixon round the track. Dixon stating before the weekend that Motegi was one of his favourite tracks.

As the first bunch of riders posted their first flying lap times, Alonso Lopez set the benchmark for the rest of the field. Lopez having to serve a double long lap penalty this weekend after the carnage last weekend in India.

With 10mins left of the session, the top 4 currently heading into Q2 were Lopez, Bo Bensneyder, Zonta Van De Goorbergh and reigning Moto3 champion Izan Guevara.

Mattia Casadei lit up the yellow flags in sector 2, going down at turn 6. Casadei with his 3rd crash of the weekend. A tough weekend so far for the Kalex rider.

7mins of the session remained. Dixon and Binder lit up the sectors red and as they all crossed the line, Binder went quickest with a time of 1:50.294. Van De Goorbergh just +0.060 back to Binder and Dixon moved up into the top 4 in 3rd.

The riders back on the track now after a brief stop in the pits.  Lopez set a blistering lap time of 1:50.089 and moved to the top of the standings pushing Dixon down to 4th. Had Lopez set that time this morning, he’d of been 2nd quickest overall from the practice sessions.

Chequered flag out and the riders on current flying laps weren’t able to break into the top 4. The top 4 heading through to the Q2 session were Alonso, Binder, Van De Goorbergh and Dixon.

Qualifying 2

Both Beta Tools SpeedUp teammates Lopez and Fermin Aldeguer were the first to post times in the session, only to be blitzed moments later by Chantra posting a time just shy of the lap record of 1:49.977 seconds.

VD Goorbergh lit up the yellow flags in sector 1 just as Chantra broke the lap record with a time of 1:49.898. For 7 years Johann Zarco held the record, but finally broken today by Chantra and the provisional pole lap so far sat with the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia rider.

Championship leader Pedro Acosta moved up into the 3rd after his first run, but only briefly as Dixon moved up to 2nd and Aron Canet into 4th. The front row with 6mins left in the session was Chantra, Dixon and Ogura.

Acosta and Dixon not giving up on pole went quicker with Dixon just +0.214seconds shy of Chantra’s provisional pole lap in 2nd, and Acosta in 3rd.

Tony Arbolino had a nightmare start to the session and with only a few minutes remaining was in 14th place. Arbolino’s teammate Sam Lowes was going better and up to 7th with a couple of minutes left in the session. Arbolino managed to finish 13th in the qualifying session. A disaster for Arbolino and will be looking to do all he can in the race tomorrow, to keep any championship hopes alive.

As the chequered flags waved, Ogura split Chantra and Dixon moving up to 2nd place to the delight of the team in the garage. A dream qualifying session for the IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia at their home race in Japan. Chantra quickest in every session so far this weekend! It will take a mighty effort from anyone to stop Chantra from taking the win tomorrow.

Qualifying Classification

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Official Starting Grid

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Moto3: Motegi Pole for Masia

Image Credit: MotoGP

Jaume Masia continued his blistering form and took his 3rd pole position in a row here today in Motegi, Japan. Masia made it look easy, with championship rival Deniz Öncü qualifying in 2nd and a back-to-back front row start for Matteo Bertelle completing the front row in 3rd.

A 5th pole position of the season for Leopard Racing team’s Masia and it’s hard to imagine anyone in Moto3 being able to stop Masia charging to championship glory. Championship rival’s Daniel Holgado starts the race on row 2 from 6th position and Ayumu Sasaki starts 7th on row 3 tomorrow.

Image Credit: Leopard Racing 

AS IT HAPPENED

Qualifying 1

Jose Antonio Rueda had a rare appearance in Q1. Taiyo Furusato and Riccardo Rossi also unlikely names in Q1 ready to battle it out for a spot in Q2.

Furusato was the first of the riders to come through and set a time, quickly followed by a group of 5 unable to go faster, with 10mins left of the session. Furusato was quicker through the first 2 sectors on the next run, only for the lap to be cancelled after running wide in sector 3.

Red Bull KTMs Filippo Farioli come through and up to 2nd in the standings. Still +0.633 seconds behind the quickest time set so far in the session. A 1:57.564 from Furusato. Farioli come off at the end of turn 2, but quickly back up and thankfully Farioli ok to continue.

5mins left in the session and CFMOTO teammates Joel Kelso and Xavi Artigas come through with Kelso setting the quickest time and Artigas up into 3rd. The top 4 currently heading through to Q2 at this point was Kelso, Furusato, Artigas and Farioli.

3mins remained in the session and Rossi was red through sectors 1 and 2 on his first flying lap in the session. Rossi topped the standings with a 1:57.161 a time +0.261seconds clear of Kelso in 2nd.

The riders had very little time to get through to Q2, only one more shot at getting through to Q2. Kelso, Artigas, Rueda and Rossi all on flying laps as the chequered flag came down on the session. The top 4 heading through to Q2 were Rossi, Kelso, Furusato and Rueda.

Qualifying 2

Some breaking news at the start of the Q2 session, with 3 place grid penalties handed out to Diogo Moreira and Collin Veijer. Both for moving their hands off the grips on the straights. No rain and a dry session in a really important qualifying in Moto3. Just 1 point separating the top 3 in the championship.

As the battle for pole position started it was bike #6 Ryusei Yamanaka coming through to set the first time of the session. GASGAS Aspar Team rider Yamanaka keen to impress this weekend and still needed a ride for next season. Bertelle quickly followed over the line and up to the top of the timings, with Ortola 2nd and Rueda currently in 3rd.

Less than 10mins of the session remained and the first group of riders were all setting flying laps. David Munoz setting a benchmark time now of 1:56.892, the first to get into the 1min56’s. Munoz tucking in behind the Husqvarna teammates Veijer and Sasaki picking up some slipstream along the finish straight.

Masia now seen coming out of the pits with Deniz Öncü, Kaito Toba, Rossi and Kelso all yet to set a time in the session.

With 5mins left of the session both Masia and Öncü were lighting up the sectors red just as Rossi had a big crash into turn 9. Yellow flags in sector 3, but both Masia and Öncü clear of the incident at the time and their laps stood. Masia up to the top with a 1:56.744 and Öncü 2nd with a gap of just +0.120seconds to Masia on provisional pole.

Masia and Öncü marched on with Öncü behind Masia on track, both continued to set the sectors red on their second runs. Both Masia and Öncü improved with Masia up to a 1:56.331 with a gap of +0.208 to Öncü in 2nd. Only Öncü able to be within a half a second to Masia at the top.

Sasaki with only a minute left in the session got a slipstream from teammate Veijer. Sasaki through the victory corner turn 14 onto the straight only to go 5th. Sasaki was up in the first two sectors on Masia on that lap, but unable to piece it all together for pole position.

With the chequered flag waving the riders all completed the session, none of the riders able to knock Masia off the top. A third pole position in a row for Masia. The Leopard Racing team rider sent a clear message to his championship rivals today in Motegi. A 5th pole position of the season for Masia and seemingly unstoppable at the moment in Moto3.

Official Starting Grid

Image Credit: MotoGP

 

Moto2: Stunning Home Win for Ai Ogura at the Japanese GP

Ai Ogura and his Honda Team Asia machine have taken a home win at the Japanese GP. He took the lead at the half-way point in the race and never looked back. Joining him on the podium was championship leader, Augusto Fernandez and early race leader Alonso Lopez.

The tears were flowing in the Honda Team Asia garage today as Ai Ogura took a stunning home victory at the Japanese Grand Prix. He is the first rider to do so since 2006 and was greeted like a hero in parc ferme.

Whilst his win felt dominant, it was hard fought as he made his way through the pack from 13th on the grid. He made a brilliant start, leaping up to 6th in the first few corners, and never looked back.

Our championship leader faced a similarly brilliant day, coming home in 2nd despite starting in 11th. However, Augusto Fernandez will be disappointed to have not been able to catch Ogura today. He certainly had the pace to do so, evidenced on his journey up through the field.

The final podium spot was taken by Alonso Lopez who enjoyed spending much of the first half of the race in 1st. The Spanish rider enjoyed a strong race today but his performance dropped off a little too much in the final laps for him to improve on 3rd.

It was a difficult day for both Aron Canet and Fermin Aldeguer who qualified in 1st and 2nd respectively. Firstly, Aldeguer crashed out on lap 3, with Canet facing a similar fate just one lap later. Both were visibly frustrated but today felt like Canet’s race to lose. He was enjoying a comfortable lead with 1.8s of clear track behind him when he hit the gravel.

 

AS IT HAPPENED

As the lights went out, it was Aldeguer who flew off the line and quickly took the lead away from pole-sitter Canet, coming out on top as they existed turn 1. Just behind them, Somkiat Chantra overtook Jake Dixon for 3rd. However, Chantra faced a moment in the early corners and this put plenty of clear air between himself and the two leading riders and the rest of the pack. By the end of the first lap this gap was up to 0.9s, giving Canet and Aldeguer a comfortable lead.

Other strong starts were enjoyed by Cameron Beaubier as he leapt from 8th to 4th, Ogura who flew from 13th to 6th and Acosta who jumped from 18th to 13th. Sadly, after losing 3rd to Chantra, Dixon was then swallowed even further by the grid and eventually ended up in 9th, having started in 3rd.

By the end of the first lap, Ogura continued to climb and was battling hard with Beaubier for 6th. As Ogura rose up the ranks, his title contender Fernandez was still stuck down in 12th and unable to make waves in the early laps.

As Chantra struggles to close up to the leading pair, Ogura overtakes Tony Arbolino to take 4th. In doing so, he also sets the fastest lap of the race so far.

At turn 5 of lap 3, Aldeguer crashes out of the race from 2nd place. The front wheel slides from under him and he is left clearly heartbroken, dejectedly leaning on the tire wall as the marshals remove his bike from the gravel. With Aldeguer out of the race, he gifts a 1.8s lead to Canet who goes on to set the fastest lap of the race so far.

As Canet continues to push, possibly pushing too hard, he then goes down himself and crashes at turn 9 of lap 4. He is able to rejoin the field but is way down at the back of the grid before eventually retiring after a second crash on lap 16.

As the riders complete the fourth lap of the race, Chantra is leading from Arbolino in 2nd and Lopez in 3rd. Arbolino seems to struggle on lap 5 as he loses 2nd place to Lopez and, a matter of corners later, then loses 3rd place to Ogura.

Fernandez, knowing his championship contender had made his way up to the podium places, was finally starting to make waves and manages to get himself up to 6th in response. He then tries a move on Dixon for 5th but the Brit rider aggressively fights back and firmly shuts the door on him.

On lap 7, whilst leading the race, Chantra has a moment and goes wide at turn 5. This allows Lopez and Ogura to overtake him and take 1st and 2nd respectively. As he recovers from the mistake, Chantra then loses 3rd to Arbolino, leaving him stuck down in 4th having lead the race just moments earlier.

Celestino Vietti, who led the Moto2 championship for much of the first half of the season, has struggled all weekend. He qualified in 18th and then crashes out of the race on lap 8. He tries to rejoin the field but retires two laps later.

At half distance, things seemed to have settled down a little with gaps forming in the leading group. Lopez was still leading, ahead of Ogura in 2nd, Arbolino in 3rd, Chantra in 4th, Fernandez in 5th and Dixon in 6th. On lap 11, Lopez seems to start to lose some pace and Ogura is quickly hot on his tail. The gap, which had been 0.4s on the previous lap, quickly reduced down to 0.1s.

Image Credit: MotoGP

The top two riders spend the next two laps battling for 1st and, eventually, on turn 11 of lap 13, Ogura snatches and retains the lead. At the same time, his title rival, Fernandez is fighting with Arbolino for 3rd and eventually comes out on top, besting the Italian rider.

On all 14, the gap begins to grow between Ogura and Lopez, causing Lopez to fall into the clutches of chasing Fernandez. The two Spanish riders remain close for all of lap 15 and are almost side-by-side as they cross the line to start lap 16. This pressure then causes Lopez to go wide at the start of lap 16, which finally allows Fernandez through. They continue to battle for the following few laps which allows Dixon, in 4th, to catch up to them.

Everything calms down again by lap 17 as Ogura pulls out a 1.8s lead over Fernandez. After their hot battle, Lopez in third drops back to 1.1s behind Fernandez and remains 0.9s ahead of Dixon in 4th. A further 2.6s behind him is Chantra, Arbolino and Acosta.

Aware that his title rival is just one place ahead of him, Fernandez now sets the fastest lap of the race. On the following lap, in reaction to this, Ogura shaves 0.4s off his lap time. Similarly, in response to Dixon’s chasing, Lopez cuts 0.6s off his lap time. With no one able to significantly close any gaps, the riders all keep their heads and cross the checkered flag in this same order.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

With just four races left of the 2022 season, everything is still to place for in the championship and a single error could be the difference between hero and zero.

After righting his way up to 2nd place today, Fernandez remains at the top of the standings. However, today’s race win has allowed Ogura to close to the gap to just two points!

After a DNF today, both Canet and Vietti’s title fights appear to be over. Canet is 57 points behind Fernandez and Vietti is an enormous 72 points away.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Formula 1 announces multi-year extension with Suzuka until 2024

Formula 1 announces a multi-year extension with the Japanese Grand Prix, ensuring that racing will remain at Suzuka Circuit for at least another three years. The multi-year extension between Formula 1 and race promoter Mobilityland will see the FIA Formula One World Championship continue to visit the historic circuit until 2024.

A mainstay on the Formula 1 calendar since 1987, the circuit has hosted many iconic championship deciders as well as some of its most memorable moments. Its only breaks in 34 years came in 2007 and 2008 when Fuji Speedway took over, including when it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Japanese Grand Prix’s contract had been due to expire after the 2021 season.

Suzuka has struggled financially at times, not helped in part thanks to poor fan interest with no Japanese presence on the grid, the last being Kamui Kobayashi in 2014. The 2017 Japanese Grand Prix saw a 5.5% decline in attendance, the biggest percentage drop on the Formula 1 calendar at the time. Moreover, the Japanese Grand Prix only counted for 2.8% of TV audience in Japan, compared to 5.5% for European races.

However, there has been a remarkable shift in Japanese participation and success in recent years. Honda became the sole supplier for Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, taking seven victories in little over two seasons. Additionally, highly-rated Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda has given the Japanese fans someone to support, hopefully for years to come.

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Image) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1:

I am truly delighted that Formula 1 will continue to race at Suzuka Circuit for another three years. Japan holds a special place in the hearts and minds of F1 fans all over the world, and Suzuka has played host to many of the sport’s most legendary moments, with 11 Drivers’ titles being decided there. The Japanese Grand Prix has always showcased gripping, edge-of-your-seat drama, and I am thrilled we can continue to bring the action and excitement that is Formula 1 to the passionate motorsport fans of Japan.

“This extension is part of our long-term commitment to growing the sport in Asia, and we are pleased to be able to continue our successful relationship with Mobilityland. I’d like to personally thank Mr Tanaka and his team for their continued efforts in reaching this agreement, and we look forward to working with the promoter to increase the popularity and fanbase of Formula 1 there.”

Kaoru Tanaka, President Representative Director of Mobilityland Corporation:

“As a result of repeated negotiations with Formula 1, we have been able to conclude a contract on hosting the event from the year 2022 and onward. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Formula 1 members, including first of all Mr Stefano Domenicali, for the great understanding that was shown during the negotiations.

“We are determined to continue to our efforts together with local residents of Mie Prefecture and Suzuka City so that Suzuka Circuit will continue to be loved by fans all over the world and contribute to the prosperity of the motorsports culture.

“In 2022, Suzuka Circuit will celebrate its 60th anniversary. In addition to the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix that will be held from the year 2022 and onward, we will take on new challenges for the future while also cherishing the history and traditions of the sport so that we may provide fans with surprises, joys and emotional experiences. Please look forward to the events to come.”

With the likes of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato in IndyCar, Le Mans winner Kazuki Nakajima and Yuki Tsunoda in Formula 1 – it has never been a better time to be a motorsport fan in Japan.

The 2021 Japanese Grand Prix is set to be held on the 10th October providing no further postponements or cancellations.

Sayonara and Game Over for Ferrari

Suzuka Circuit, Japan.
Sunday 08 October 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X4I8963

Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix, and extended his championship lead to 59 points from Sebastian Vettel. The British Samurai, led the race from the pole till the end, without any problem and no pressure. Red Bull was the only team which tried to put some pressure on Hamilton, especially after the second Virtual Safety Car, but still the champion remained first and took the chequered flag at the Japanese Grand Prix.

An engine problem cost the race to Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari’s engineers were working on Vettel’s car just a few minutes before the formation lap, the team thought that they solved the issue but there prays didn’t work out and Vettel retired on the fourth lap. After lights out, the German lost the second position from Max Verstappen and soon dropped down to sixth, the safety car, which deployed due to Sainz’s retirement, allowed him to remain on track for a couple of laps, but at the re-start Ferrari informed Vettel to return to the pits and retire his car.

Suzuka Circuit, Japan.
Sunday 08 October 2017.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+, leads at the start of the race.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY8649

Vettel said on Sky  “It’s normal you’re critical, especially if things go wrong, so it’s part of our job. I think I need to protect them. We’ve done an incredible job so far. Bitter the past two races with the reliability issues – but you know, it’s like that sometimes. Of course it hurts and we’re all disappointed, but now we need to get back, get some rest and then go flat out for the last four races and see what happens.”

Daniel Ricciardo scored another podium this season and set a new personal-best with nine podiums in one season. The Australian had a quiet evening behind his team-mate compering to Max Verstappen who started fourth but moved up to second place and was trying to stay close to Hamilton during the Japanese Grand Prix. The Dutch, knew that Lewis will not defend his position in case of a battle between them, but Max didn’t have the pace to match and challenge Hamilton.

Suzuka Circuit, Japan.
Sunday 08 October 2017.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X4I8155

An interesting battle for the tenth position took place during the final laps of the race, Felipe Massa was the leader of this battle from the 10th position, challenged by Magnussen and Grosjean. The Brazilian was struggling and didn’t had the pace to stay ahead of the two drivers, both passed him and moved up to the eighth and ninth place respectively. Massa defended his position from Fernando Alonso, who started the race from the back of the gird. The VSC which deployed due to Stroll’s retirement, helped him to keep a distance from the Spaniard and score one point for Williams in Suzuka.

Jolyon Palmer raced for the last time for the Renault and finished 12th, whilst his team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg was unlucky as he forced to retire due to an issue with the DRS.

Next stop is at the Circuit of the Americas, a circuit which suits better to Mercedes and they are expected to be more competitive. Sebastian Vettel was leading by seven points after the Belgian Grand Prix and he was only three points behind Hamilton in Italy, but the next three races were a disaster for him and Ferrari. A start-line crash in Singapore, followed by engine problems in Malaysia and Japan dropped him 59 points behind Lewis. The Brit three-time champion, is on his way for his fourth title which he can celebrate it in COTA.

Japanese Grand Prix Preview, Can Hamilton secure his 4th title?

GP GIAPPONE F1/2016 – SUZUKA 06/10/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

After the Malaysian Grand Prix, drivers and teams are heading to one of the most fascinating places on the Formula One calendar, Japan. Back to back races for the crews with just five races to go and 125 points available for the drivers, Sebastian Vettel has to cover the gap of 34 points between him and Lewis Hamilton, who right now is the favourite for the 2017 world title.

Scuderia Ferrari announced that they will not change Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox for the upcoming Grand Prix, so the German driver will avoid the five place grid penalty.

Max Verstappen with his Red Bull celebrated a victory in Malaysia, first in this season for the young driver, was in full control of the race followed by the Brit champion Lewis Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo was the third man on the podium, whilst Sebastian Vettel finished fourth. Kimi Raikkonen suffered an issue with his Ferrari and forced to retire from the second position before the start of the race.

Only three drivers have won more than three times in Japan, these drivers are Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Vettel took four times the chequered flag in Suzuka, whilst Lewis Hamilton has scored one less victory than the German champion.

The team with the most wins in Japan is McLaren (9), followed by Ferrari who have won seven times in Suzuka and Red Bull four. Two Japanese drivers have finished on the podium in their home race the one was Kamui Kobayashi and the second one was Aguri Suzuki.

Suzuka International Racing Course

Laps: 53

Circuit Length: 5.807 km

Race Distance: 307.471 km

Lap Record: 1:31.540 (Kimi Raikkonen 2005)

Suzuka built by Honda and used as a test facility in 1962, the circuit was designed by John Hugenholz. In 1987, several motorsport races were held in Suzuka, F2 races were among these events.

Suzuka is a demanding circuit for the tyres, has 18 corners and the brake demanding is low. During a lap the drivers are changing their gears around 45 times and the average lap speed is 220 km/h.

Max Verstappen – “After Malaysia we will spend some time in Tokyo before heading to Suzuka. Japan is full of new experiences and it will be great to spend a couple of days exploring before the race weekend starts. Some people say the Japanese fans are crazy, but I think they are just very passionate about Formula 1, which for me is very nice to see. Suzuka will always be a special place for me because I made my Formula 1 debut there during Friday practice and it’s a proper old-school track. My favourite corner is the fast Esses in the first sector, but it’s also the most difficult section of the track and you really have to concentrate on getting the set-up right.”

Felipe Massa believes that Suzuka suits to Williams and they will be very competitive.

“Suzuka is definitely one of the best tracks in the world and one where I really love racing. I think the car we have this year will be amazing there with the high downforce and the high-speed corners, so I am really looking forward to going there. Another great thing about being in Japan is the fans, who are some of the best we come across during the year.”

Victor Archakis

©2017 The Pitcrewonline