Webber tops Suzuka time sheets

The first thing you need to know about this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is that it is one of those easy-brekkie weekends. There will be no time to try out Nigella’s Tuscan Pancetta with pan-fried egg on stone-oven-fresh peasant bread; make it simple, qualifying is at six in the morning tomorrow, the race at seven on Sunday if you’re in the UK and you have Sky. If you don’t just be up by lunchtime, because the BBC will screen qualifying highlights at one and the race at two in the afternoon.

The first two practice sessions have already happened today. McLaren and Red Bull dominated, Schumacher crashed and Ferrari are starting to sound like they’re wobbling, although we’ll come to that.

We all know the story now. Over the next six races Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel have to win races to close down Fernando Alonso’s 29 point lead over the nearest of them, Vettel. There’s 25 points for a win, so it is more than possible (although Lewis, 52 points adrift has the tallest mountain to climb). What will make it tricky is of course the fact that Alonso is always there at the end, in third (15 points) or fourth (12 points), neutralising to some extent the value of a win.

Team-work then is important. Mark Webber and Jenson Button are still in with a shout, on paper at least, so won’t be handing points over. That might favour Kimi Raikkonen. Romain Grosjean is not going to be the 2012 World Champion, but Lotus have yet to win a race and it seems inconceivable, if not impossible, that Raikkonen could win the title without troubling the top step in 20 races.

Then of course there are the team dynamics themselves. Jenson Button had apparently indicated to Wing Commander Whitmarsh that he would do the decent thing. But that was before Lewis announced he was changing sides. Was the offer a hollow one?

Meanwhile we all know over at Red Bull there’s not much love lost between Webber and Vettel and the Aussie looked on fire this morning setting the fastest time in the second session after Button topped the first. Either a Red Bull or a McLaren will be on pole.

Fernando Alonso’s best time of the day put him fifth in session two, but six-tenths behind Webber. And the team is already letting it be known it has rediscovered its old calibration problem with its stylish, but wonky wind tunnel. Concerned looks all round in the red corner. But is this more disinformation? Remember the team’s willingness to admit this year’s car was a total donkey right back at the start of the season, two races before its first win. Hmmm. We wonder. Sunday should be a cracking race, but the title is still Alonso’s to lose.

Comments are now closed

1. I love Suzuka.
2. The championship lead is about to switch hands soon.
3. Shame about Schumacher having more trouble.
4. It is great when you don’t know beforehand who is going to win the race. My money is on Vettel.

Report this comment

i hope that we have a 100% competitive race even though people are starting to sign for new contracts and switching teams.

Report this comment

Sunday should be a close race. hopefully the race should be a good one considering how close the championship is. And it was a disappointment to hear about Schumacher’s retirement it is sad to lose such an amazing driver. But he still has 6 races, hopefully he races well. Sunday’s race should be amazing. Can’t wait for the US Grand Prix in Austin. :)

Report this comment

VETTEL FTW! …. we can still take the fight to Alanso and Ferrari … going to be tough but its a possibility.

Report this comment

After Qually, looks like a bit of a snore-fest up front, so hoping for some fireworks from Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso etc to make it worth the early start. Fantastic circuit though – have to totally agree with Brundle at the beginning of the Sky coverage repeating his “it’s too easy when you spin off a Tilke track into a supermarket carpark” rant – driving mistakes should have consequences (that don’t hurt)!

Report this comment

Vettel will do the hat trick!

Report this comment