First, it was incredibly touching how the Japanese F1 fans showed their support for Jules Bianchi. I was a little uncomfortable watching practice on Friday in the rain with the talk about new barriers, cranes in different positions, etc. But racing goes on, because every driver tells him/herself the same lie–it’s not going to happen to me.
And then on Saturday Kvyat took a corner wide, hit the grass, and flipped his car in spectacular fashion in Q3 with about 30 seconds left in the session. At least this time it brought out the red flag almost immediately, but that also ended qualifying so that everyone’s last ditch efforts were for not leaving Hamilton stuck in 2nd.
But on race day, aside from the opening lap and based on the last two races, Suzuka was pretty tame. No stalled cars on the start for a change, however, Hamilton got a little sneaky on that first inside line and pushed Rosberg wide. It gave Hamilton the lead and left Rosberg fighting for position in 4th. Perez had a big off trying to split Ricciardo and Massa.
And then there were several pit jumps–Rosberg got out ahead of Raikonen only to get beat by Bottas. Kvyat and Verstappen went after each other a while until Kvyat pitted on lap 21. Raikonen went hard after Bottas for some great driving.
And then the McLarens got some air time when Alonso’s radio came the words, “this feels like a GP2 car.” Ouch. He’s done such a good job of toting the line for the press this season but that summed up Alonso’s and Button’s reality. They’re both older drivers and I can’t imagine they want to go out with a whimper with one of the most storied partnerships in Formula 1. If you want to look on the bright side, both cars ran the length of the race but that’s hardly something to brag about.
But that’s about it, really. Singapore appears to have been a fluke for Mercedes, as Hamilton easily brought home his 41st win, now tied with Ayrton Senna (just one more race start). Rosberg cleaned up in 2nd, Vettel in 3rd.
It’s worth noting that Grojean finished 7th–mostly because Haas F1 is supposed to announce their driver line up on Tuesday and the strongest rumor right now is that he’ll jump ship from Lotus/Renault/cash strapped team (how sad is it they haven’t paid their crew all month if the rumors are true?). I’m still holding with my prediction but we’ll see.