Not great, but no disaster. That’s the best way to sum up Lewis Hamilton’s final qualifying session of 2009. On a day when Ferrari and McLaren tried to outdo each other in appearing to remain calm under pressure (‘We’re treating this like any other grand prix’. Yeah, right) it was Ferrari who won out.
The weekend kicked off with the press conference in a small room – unfortunate as this was the best attended of all 18 Thursday press conferences. The seats were quickly filled with journalists, leaving standing room only, much to the annoyance of photographers herded in at the back.
Subdued. That’s the word that came to mind as I walked through the paddock an hour after the finish. It’s true that the vast acreage of concrete did little to engender atmosphere as the teams packed up but there was no buzz about the place, certainly not like Fuji the week before.
You don’t need to be a genius to guess the points of discussion in the paddock here. Choose any one of three incidents which drew the attention of the stewards. Whether they’re the sort of thing that the officials should be bothered about is arguably a more important question.
You will either agree or be outraged. Lewis Hamilton walked into the paddock this morning to be greeted by the news that Robert Kubica had been slagging him off for dangerous driving. Or, at least, that was the interpretation adopted by a couple of British national newspapers.
The problem for the Fuji Speedway is that Suzuka is in the same country. For as long as that magnificent track exists, Fuji will remain in Suzuka’s shadow. It was with great reluctance that F1 moved last year but it’s fair to say that Fuji has not been as bad as everyone expected.