Japanese Grand Prix 2014 – Recap

Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix after a very unusual ending to one of the most exciting races this season. After 44 laps, the race officials decided to stop the race because of adverse weather conditions on the track. Rosberg followed him on second and four time winner of the Japanese GP, Sebastian Vettel got the third place. He is now 10 points ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg.

Qualifying

The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg continues in Suzuka as they both tried their best to outdo each other beginning in the free practice sessions. After being beaten by Hamilton for the pole position in Singapore by seven thousandths of a second, Rosberg was in perfect race form here and flawlessly completed the twists and turns in Suzuka with the fastest time. His official time was 1 min 32.506 secs; two tenths faster than Hamilton’s 1:32.703. Hamilton meanwhile had another crash in the qualifying here. His car hit the wall near turn one after it bounced across the gravel.

Racing Conditions

The weather was the biggest concern here a couple days before race day. “Super” typhoon Phanfone is approaching the coast of Japan and threatens to hit the area near Suzuka on Monday. It’s expected that on Sunday, the weather will already be stormy with strong winds and heavy rains on the track. If this happens, the race would be cancelled.

Fortunately the worst fear of everybody didn’t happen but the weather on race day was still far from perfect. Despite this, the organizers still decided to go on with the race. The race starts at 2:00pm local time (7:00am GMT). The standing water on the track due to the rains will really make this one very hard for everyone. Everybody expects that the safety car will be used here extensively.

The Grid

The Race

Despite the bad weather, the race went on and the cars run on the track with plumes of water behind them. The car of Marcus Ericsson of Caterham had a spin on lap 2 because of the wet track. The red flag was put out in lap 3 and the cars went into the pit lane. By now, some drivers aren’t just complaining about the slippery track but also of poor visibility.

The race restarts in lap 3 with the safety car still running on the track. On lap 4 Fernando Alonso had encountered electrical problems in his car and is now out. On lap 9, the lights of the safety went out and this signals that everyone can be in full-throttle now.

Rosberg leads the race in lap 9 but Hamilton is in hot pursuit of him. The duel between Hamilton and Rosberg here in Suzuka had just begun. Massive pitting begins in lap 12 as Magnussen and Raikonnen came into the pit for a stop. Massa and Vettel also went into the pit on lap 13. Rosberg had his first stop on lap 14.

Rosberg still leads the race in lap 17 but Hamilton has now closed the gap to just 1.2 seconds. The gap between the two remained that way till lap 20. Button meanwhile is on third position, 18 seconds behind Hamilton but 13 seconds ahead of Vettel who is on fourth position.

The gap between Rosberg and Hamilton continues to become smaller on lap 25. The Brit continues to put pressure on Rosberg and the German is now complaining of “oversteering.” Finally on lap 28, after they went down from the straight, a twitch from Rosberg enabled Hamilton to overtake him from the outside and take the lead. This is another master stroke from a true champion like Hamilton.

After taking the lead, Hamilton pulls away and establishes a four second lead over Rosberg in the 31st lap. Rosberg finally comes to the pit on lap 33 for the much needed tire change. Rain begins to pour down on the track during lap 36. On lap 39, Hamilton continues to pull away from the rest and now has an 8.5 second lead.

The rain began to pour down harder during lap 40. According to the rules, if 40 laps of the race are completed, the drivers will get full points. Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil of Sauber-Ferrari had a crash during lap 42. The yellow flag is now up. On lap 44, the safety car and the medical car went out. With 7 more laps to go, the organizers finally decided to put the red flag out on lap 46 and the cars headed into the pit lane. This signals the end of a very interesting race.

After Thoughts

Hamilton now has 266 points after the Japanese GP. Rosberg is 10 points behind him with 256 points. There are now just four races remaining for this year. The next race will be the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi next week, October 12. Rosberg can either narrow down the gap or grab the lead from Hamilton in Russia. The title race this year is indeed very different from the previous seasons, and it can go all the way down to Abu Dhabi.