2016 Japanese Grand Prix.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. Swami

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    F1 heads to another of the sport's true classic venues this weekend, the magical Suzuka circuit.

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

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    Nico Rosberg heads Lewis Hamilton in Japanese GP practice
    [​IMG]
    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer at Suzuka

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    Coverage of second practice is on Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website from 05:55 BST
    Nico Rosberg headed team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton in first practice at the Japanese Grand Prix as Mercedes left the rest far behind.

    Rosberg was 0.215 seconds quicker than Hamilton, who complained of a lack of power early in the session.

    Hamilton is 23 points behind with five races and a maximum of 125 points still available and needs to beat Rosberg this weekend to revive his title hopes.


    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was 1.094 seconds behind Rosberg in third.

    Mercedes have said they are running their engines in a revised spec, which effectively means a minor loss of performance at certain points of the weekend, following Hamilton's engine failure while leading in Malaysia last weekend.

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    The Japanese fans are famous for their inventive support...
    Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest, ahead of the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who used the slower medium tyre to set their times rather than the soft.

    The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were next, ahead of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso, who was four places and 0.674secs quicker than team-mate Jenson Button despite going off and damaging his car at Spoon Curve.

    Alonso was able to get back to the pits and take a full part in the session.

    Button was complaining about the balance over the radio, saying: "We've got a lot of work to do."

    Haas' Romain Grosjean was the only other driver to crash at arguably Formula 1's best and most demanding track, although Verstappen also ran wide at Spoon.

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    ...Very inventive
    The Frenchman lost control at the notorious Degner Two corner, where he slid wide and damaged his front wing against the barrier, although he, too, was able to get back to the pits.

    The session was run in warm, humid weather, which is expected to continue throughout Friday before rain arrives overnight and could well affect qualifying on Saturday.

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

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    Nico Rosberg heads Lewis Hamilton in Japanese GP practice
    [​IMG]
    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer in at Suzuka

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    [​IMG]
    The Japanese Grand Prix is live on the BBC Sport website and Radio 5 live and sports extra
    Nico Rosberg edged title rival Lewis Hamilton by just 0.072 seconds to set the pace in second practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.

    The Mercedes drivers, with Rosberg 23 points ahead in their championship battle, were 0.323 seconds quicker than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

    Red Bull's Max Verstappen beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to fourth.


    Jenson Button struggled for McLaren, in 16th, eight places and 0.413secs behind team-mate Fernando Alonso.

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    Suzuka is an iconic track within motorsport, as its ferris wheel
    The 2009 world champion was complaining that the car lacked balance and felt no different from the morning session, when he was unhappy with its feel.

    The title battle - and the rain potential
    Hamilton has five races left to try to claw back his deficit to Rosberg. He had hoped to start this weekend in the same fashion he conducted the last race in Malaysia, when he was demonstrably faster than Rosberg and was on his way to a comfortable victory until his engine failed late in the race.

    Instead, Rosberg was fastest in both sessions, albeit by a small margin in the afternoon as clouds came over Suzuka.

    "It's been a really good day with no problems on the car which is great," said Hamilton. "But there's still some work to be done overnight in order to find more pace.

    "Hopefully we'll be going into Sunday in good shape."

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    Eating al fresco before the expected rain comes across this weekend in the Mie Prefecture
    Rain had been expected overnight and for qualifying but the forecasts are now less confident of that and the weather is uncertain, as it so often is on this eastern coast of Honshu, between mountains and Pacific Ocean.

    Rain would enhance the chances of Red Bull mixing it with Mercedes in qualifying but the race-simulation runs later in the second session suggested that they could keep the world champions honest in the race as well.

    Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo matched Hamilton's lap-time average on the soft tyres that will be used in at least the first stint of the race.

    [​IMG]
    Another thing the Japanese Grand Prix is famed for is fan art...
    Ricciardo, winner in Malaysia on Sunday, was only 12th as he did not complete a lap on his qualifying simulation run because it was interrupted for a virtual safety car period after Esteban Gutierrez's Haas stopped on track.

    Ferrari's race pace was hard to judge because of off-set tyre choices. Raikkonen's headline lap time, set with a new front wing the team have brought to Japan, suggests they could be in the mix, although the Finn was complaining of a lack of front grip on his race run.

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    And hats...
    Force India looking quick
    Force India looked to be comfortably the fourth quickest team, while Alonso's pace in eighth suggests McLaren should again be able to get at least one car into the top 10.

    It was a relatively incident-free session, with no crashes, although Renault's Kevin Magnussen, Williams' Felipe Massa and Sauber's Felipe Nasr all ran wide before rejoining.

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

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    Lewis Hamilton second for Japanese GP behind Nico Rosberg
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer at Suzuka

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    [​IMG]
    Nico Rosberg pipped Mercedes team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton by a small margin to take pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    Hamilton had been slightly faster on the first runs after struggling in practice, but Rosberg edged him by 0.013 seconds on the very last laps.

    The world champion needs to beat Rosberg in Sunday's race to close his 23-point championship deficit.


    Hamilton has beaten Rosberg in Japan after starting second in 2014 and 2015.

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    Serious stuff: Rosberg's pole takes him to three in Japan, equalling that of F1 legend Ayrton Senna, and a hat-trick: 2014, 2015, 2016. Source: Forix
    The Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were third and fourth, ahead of the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

    Sunday's race in live on the BBC Sport website and on radio 5 live.

    How Japanese GP qualifying unfolded

    Hamilton really has to beat Rosberg in Japan
    Rosberg's advantage equates to 83cm over a 3.6-mile lap of Suzuka. The German has appeared the more comfortable throughout practice, beating Hamilton in all three sessions, and in the first two qualifying sessions as well as the crucial final one.

    "It was going well all weekend," Rosberg said. "Had a good balance, feeling comfortable and that's what allows me to put in a lap like that."

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    How many times have you been overtaken here after qualifying on pole, Nico? Yeah, twice, and he has never won the Japanese GP. Source: Forix
    Hamilton said: "I'm happy with qualifying. It has been a weekend of a lot of work trying to get the set-up right. Big changes before qualifying and considering that I am very happy with it. I did as well as I could.

    "History has shown you don't have to be on pole to get the win but Nico has done a great job all weekend."

    Given the championship situation, with only 125 points still available from the remaining five races including this one, beating Rosberg on Sunday is imperative for Hamilton.

    If it stays dry, it could all come down to the start, as overtaking is so difficult at Suzuka and strategy favours the lead car, which has pit stop priority with stopping first and advantage.

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    Hamilton vs Rosberg: what has happened to whom, up to Singapore
    But overnight rain is expected and although the weather is expected to be dry by the start of the race at this stage, a wet track would mix things up and bring the Red Bulls in particular into play.

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    Mercedes' third pole position in Japan takes them past Lotus, who have two - thanks to Mario Andretti, here in 1976. Source: Forix
    Ferrari not done yet
    For now, Ferrari received a welcome fillip after a disappointing few races by locking out the second row, although the positions of the two drivers will do little to reduce the pressure on Vettel.

    He has been heavily criticised by the Italian media following his first-corner crash in Malaysia last weekend, and here in Japan team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has given an interview in which he said the four-time world champion will have to "earn" a new contract beyond 2017.

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    How long does the honeymoon period last in Suzuka? About 1min 30secs, approximately
    Vettel will start seventh because of the three-place penalty he was given for causing the crash at Sepang.

    "It's pretty much the same car as we had last week," said Raikkonen. "I was very positively surprised by how well the car has been behaving and how quick it has been."

    At Red Bull, Ricciardo, 0.062secs behind Verstappen, said his engine was down on power in qualifying.


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    F1: Japanese Grand Prix preview from atop Mount Fuji
    He made it through Q1, 0.227secs quicker than team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who was 18th fastest.

    Meanwhile, the surprise of qualifying was probably the Haas team, whose drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez were eighth and 10th, each behind a Force India, with Sergio Perez out-qualifying team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

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    Lewis Hamilton battles to third as Nico Rosberg wins in Japan
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer at Suzuka

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    [​IMG]
    Lewis Hamilton's title hopes suffered a second blow in a week as he finished third in the Japanese Grand Prix, won by team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    Hamilton is now 33 points behind the German with only 100 still available in the remaining four races.

    After an engine failure cost him a chance to retake the lead in Malaysia last weekend, at Suzuka it was a poor start, dropping him to eighth.


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    Hamiltonesque: Rosberg was dominant, topping all practice sessions, qualifying and, of course, won
    He recovered with aggressive driving and strategy but Rosberg was serene.

    His ninth victory of the season means he can now afford to finish second behind Hamilton in all the remaining races and still win the championship.

    The result means Mercedes win the constructors' championship for the third consecutive year.

    Hamilton's terrible start
    The win Hamilton badly needed after the blow of Malaysia was always going to be difficult after he was beaten to pole by Rosberg by just 0.013 seconds, and it was made impossible within a second or two of the start.

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    That's 23 career wins for Rosberg, level with three-time world champion Nelson Piquet. Source: Forix
    Hamilton's side of the grid was damper than Rosberg's after overnight rain but the world champion said that had nothing to do with his terrible start. "I just made a mistake," Hamilton said.

    He was swamped by those behind him and down to eighth by the first corner.

    Hamilton passed Force India's Nico Hulkenberg on the outside into Turn One on lap seven but otherwise drove a controlled first stint, running slightly longer - to lap 13 - than those in front of him.

    A stirring comeback
    It was an inspired move by Mercedes' strategists, as Hamilton jumped Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and Force India's Sergio Perez and then passed Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull down the straight towards the flat-out 130R corner further around the lap.

    That put him into a de facto fourth behind Rosberg, Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, and the Williams cars that had not yet stopped.

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    Hamilton carved his way through the field impressively - including an audacious attempt to pass at the famous 130R corner
    Hamilton then quickly passed Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas to move into an actual fourth place and set his sights on Vettel.

    Hamilton closed from nearly 14 seconds behind the Ferrari on lap 15 to 4.2 on lap 32, and then stopped on the next lap.

    Vettel followed him in a lap later and came out behind, but on the faster soft tyres rather than the hards Hamilton was using.

    The German quickly closed in on his first two laps out of the pits but Hamilton soon began to edge away, and begin instead to close on Verstappen's second place.

    Hamilton caught Verstappen with nine laps to go but, despite the Mercedes being a faster car on tyres fresher by five laps, the Dutchman controlled his position superbly and Hamilton could not pass.


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    Kevin Magnussen talks big dogs and Hamilton's hair
    Hamilton made a last-ditch attempt on the penultimate lap on the outside line at the chicane but went straight on, complaining over the radio that Verstappen had "moved under braking", which drivers have a gentlemen's agreement not to do, although it is not specifically outlawed.

    Hamilton now needs Rosberg to have retirements
    Hamilton's recovery limited the damage to his title hopes, on a weekend when he found himself embroiled in controversy over his behaviour in two separate news conferences.

    Insiders believed that Hamilton's decision not to take questions from the written media after qualifying, and say he was planning to limit his future attendances at such conferences, was influenced by the pressure of seeing Rosberg take pole and the title fight going badly.

    But while Hamilton made headlines off the track, Rosberg was writing his on it, dominating the entire weekend - fastest in all practice sessions, beating Hamilton to pole position and cruising to a comfortable win as Hamilton's drama unfolded behind him.

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    Rosberg's first victory in Japan puts him level with several drivers - including Alessandro Nannini, who won in 1989 after Ayrton Senna was famously disqualified. Source: Forix
    Hamilton is relying on a bad race from Rosberg or a technical failure - which have disproportionately affected the Englishman this season at Mercedes - to have a chance.

    No retirements
    Vettel drove strongly in the first stint after narrowly avoiding collecting Hamilton off the start to move up to third, but the frustration of losing ground to Hamilton led him to make some angry radio messages, particularly about back markers ignoring blue flags that warn them a faster car is behind and they should let it by.

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    McLaren had a terrible home race: hopefully they were buoyed by the Japanese fans' interesting 'fan art'. Yes, these are Alonso and Button masks...
    Nevertheless, his drive was a timely riposte to team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, who had told Italian television that Vettel needed to "earn" a new contract at Ferrari beyond 2017 and said he needed to be less distracted by team business and focus more on driving.

    His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished behind him, winning a battle with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, well ahead of the two Force Indias and Williams.

    It was a dire weekend for McLaren at engine partner Honda's home race, a poor qualifying with a surprisingly uncompetitive car leading to a difficult race towards the back for Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who finished 16th and 18th.

    Swami
     

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