Race Notes: 2008 Japanese Grand Prix

2008 Fuji TV Japanese Grand Prix
Fuji Speedway, Sizouka, Japan
4.563km (of which 1.5km is the main straight!)
Scheduled distance: 67 laps

ITV1 *live*
Anchors/Analysts: Martin Brundle & Mark Blundell
Commentary: James Allen & Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz & Louise Goodman

Martin is pulling double-duty this weekend, Steve Rider was at Wembley yesterday for a football World Cup qualifier against the mighty Kazakhstan. England won 5-1.

The usual one hour pre-race show got under way at 4.30am UK time, obviously I said “screw that” so I’m joining coverage just before the cars leave for the formation lap (it’s now 5.25am or so).
There will be no long preamble from me today and I might struggle to get all the usual details. I don’t do mornings well.
(I later came back and edited for spelling, results and penalties)

START ORDER

Q3: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, Trulli, Glock, Vettel, Bourdais
Q2: DC, Piquet, Webber, Nakajima, Rosberg
Q1: Heidfeld, Barrichello, Button, Sutil, Fisichella

Massa is starting on soft tyres, everyone else on the hard. It is not raining.

5.4.3.2.1.go!

Kimi takes the lead but is immediately passed by Hamilton who pushes through.
BIG impact, Coulthard hard in the wall, car is destroyed and he’s out. Nakajima is damaged in the same incident. Safety Car? There was a lot of debris.

Starting Lap 2 Kubica somehow leads?? Kimi was pushed wide and lost positions. Naka pits for new wing.
Hamilton on Massa, gets him but Massa had nowhere to go and spins Hamilton around! Martin Brundle called it half a second before it happened. Lewis has to wait for the field to pass and rejoins last, and actually he pits.

Lap 3 – replays: Martin says Massa was always going to come back over, Lewis didn’t give enough racing room even though Felipe was a long way across.

Lap 4 – Kubica, Alonso, Kova, Trulli, Kimi (who sets Fastest lap), Bourdais(!), Massa, Glock, Piquet, Vettel, Sutil, Button, Heidfeld, Webber, Barrichello, Fisichella, Rosberg, Hamilton, Nakajima

Replay of the start – Lewis locked the brakes in turn one, which pushes both Ferraris and McLarens wide, which is how they all lost positions. Coulthard’s suspension was broken before he hit the wall. Failure or contact in turn one?
Lap 5 – Glock pits for a slow stop – his team didn’t expect him.

Lap 6, short laptimes here – ITV are taking ad breaks already?
Lap 7 (ads) – can see on live timing that Glock is in again. The text says he’s getting out of the car.
We’re back on lap 8. NO replays or mention of Glock. We do get a replay of Kimi passing Trulli for 4th.

Lap 9 – Sutil pulls off the road with big damage to the right rear wheel. Tyre failure Brundle thinks, maybe caused by debris from the Coulthard crash.

L10 – Martin says Lewis Hamilton did the whole start badly and ‘we hear he flat-spotted his tyres down to the canvas’ – hence the pit stop.

L11 – Replays of Fisi, Rosberg, Button. We see a lot debris on the main straight which is very dangerous, the cars are at top speed, top downforce. Martin says this actually must be where Sutil’s tyre failure came from as he pulled over at pit exit.
L12 – Caption: “Incidents involving cars 1, 2, 22 under investigation.” Kimi, Massa, Lewis, prompts further replay. Martin says Massa was always going to come back but James says “but you’re supposed to stay on the track” which Massa did not, his opinion is Massa just drove off road and took out Lewis.
L14 – Hamilton one minute behind the leaders but catching the back of the field at 2 seconds per lap. He’s up to 16th due to early attrition.

Kovalainen and Raikkonen are not making in-roads on Kubica and Alonso. BMW struggled in qualifying, Heidy started 16th and Kubica was nearly out early in qualifying as well, he scraped through each session and did a decent lap in the last one.

L15 – Louise with Sutil. Lots of debris in the road from the Coulthard incident, he went wide in turn 6 and over the grass, caused it to jump in the air (the car not the grass), when it landed it broke the suspension.
Rosberg passes Fisichella for 13th, they’ve now dropped Button.

L17 – ad break as they cross the line and Kimi’s timing goes purple, he’s still fastest out there but only 0.1s better than the 3 ahead.

L18 – We’re back just as Kubica and Raikkonen pit and we’re told Massa and Hamilton have been given McDonalds penalties. Drive thru. Kubica beat Raikkonen in the pits.
Hamilton takes his penalty.
L19 – Alonso pits after leading one lap. Massa pits for his stop. We’re not being shown where cars come out, other than Massa who is ahead of Barrichello meaning he’s 10th.
Heikki is slow.. he pulls over! He was running quickly up front and taking points from Massa, helping Hamilton. McLaren did NOT need this.
L20 – Massa takes his penalty.
Hamilton’s penalty was for forcing a car off-track at turn one. Massa’s penalty for colliding with Hamilton.

L21 – Lewis is lapped by Trulli who leads. Alonso is told “Kubica is 5 laps longer, fuel 4, push like hell mate”. Martin reckons ‘fuel 4’ is the quickest setting. Not sure how he knows as each car is different.
L22 – Trulli pits. Ted says we don’t often see a penalty for pushing a car wide, Martin says he needs to see another camera angle, the stewards have more angles available than we do.
Should note here that ITV do not control the pictures unless they interject with their own camera in pitlane/paddock, they don’t do that often.

EDIT – Fuji TV is doing the TV work here, not the usual FOM, which is why we missed pit exit a lot today. This is a hangover from the old days when each country would have a ‘host broadcaster’ providing pics and a director who would invariably focus on that country’s ‘star’ driver or team. When Renault were winning a lot in 2005, we sat through an entire GP of just looking at Renaults. FOM only took over in the last 2 years as the contracts ran out. Japan and Brazil I *think* are the only two remaining. Notice how we looked at Nakajima a lot in qualifying.

L24 – Fisichella is pushed into the garage. Bourdais Leads! Piquet is 2ND! Vettel 3rd, no, he pits. This would be why teams run longer..

Vettel is out alongside Heidfeld, defends the position. He’s now 8th.

Recap top 10: Bourdais, Piquet, Alonso, Kubica, Kimi, Webber, Trulli, Vettel, Heidfeld. Alonso is the leader in the clubhouse, those who have stopped for fuel. Massa 13th, Hamilton 14th. Championship contenders will not score at this rate.

Louise with Heikki as Rosberg passes Rubens: Heikki says it was an engine failure.
Rubens re-passes Nico! Bourdais pits and drops to 7th.

L27 – Hamilton unlapped himself when the leaders pitted and he’s catching Massa quickly – Massa is behind Button and losing time. Piquet leads because he’s not stopped.

L29 – Piquet is in, rejoins.. 6th, Bourdais goes to pass him! Doesn’t make it.
Louise with Coulthard now: ‘I went inside of Bourdais, found myself between two cars, lots of bumping.’ ‘We were all bumping together.’ Whatever damaged was caused there sent him out.
Massa takes Button. We go to an ad break to avoid hearing Alonso’s radio again. Alonso leads from Kubica and Raikkonen.

L33 – We’re back and hear Alonso asking who they are racing, maybe that was the call we missed. Renault reply: “Kubica!” ITV disagree – Kimi is only 5sec behind Kubica and is quick. I agree with ITV.
L34 – Hamilton passes Button for 13th on the straight, candy from a baby. Webber pits, the only frontrunning guy not to have done so. Ted says his rear tyres are very worn. He’s out in 10th but shouldn’t need another stop.

L37 – Martin: If the results stay like this McLaren will have to worry about Kubica (in the points), add 8 points to his score and he’s only 12 behind Hamilton.
L38 – Nakajima pits.
More adverts! I swear they didn’t used to have this many in the early morning races.

We’re back on L40. Nothing has changed other than the Hondas pitting, nobody cares about that.
James tells us that Alonso is setting identical laptimes consistently. 1:19.2 every. single. lap. Says something about ‘the drive of a champion’.

L41 – Heidfeld pits. Massa takes Webber for 10th! Hamilton pits. The green grooves were wearing off of Hamilton’s tyres. Martin says Lewis has completed his stops, Massa has one more to make and points are definitely on – also mentions Massa will have to pass Webber again because Mark isn’t planning on stopping again.

L43 – Raikkonen had fallen back from Alonso but is now quicker again. Rosberg pitted unseen by us. Hamilton passes Barrichello.
L44 – Alonso pits from the lead. “Tweak of front wing” says Martin. He’s out behind Bourdais who was lapping a Honda at the time.

Kubica radio: How’s the balance? “Understeer, understeer, poor traction.”
Martin: “That’s both ends sliding then, that’s tough to fix.”
I missed the second part of the radio while typing that..

L46 – Kimi sets new fastest lap. He’s got 10 this year already, if he gets his 11th at this race that’s a new record for fastest laps in a season.
L47 – Kubica pits so Kimi leads. Robert is out behind Vettel, 7th.
James says ‘Alonso is now looking good for the win’. Martin says ‘good stop from BMW, now Kimi has to nail his out-lap to beat Kubica for 2nd.’
L49 – Kimi pits. Kubica JUST beats Kimi! Pulls away a little with momentum. Massa has just set fastest lap.
Martin mentions that Piquet and Bourdais have done a very good job today and are going to be rewarded. They are up front but yet to stop, Bourdais is pretty fast too.
L51 – Trulli pits. Massa sets a 1m18.8 – oh no! Bourdais exits the pits and hits Massa! Replay: looks like Massa cut across into Bourdais – Sebastien had nowhere to go, he was on the inside line. Massa’s fault.
L52 – Raikkonen has caught Kubica. Piquet pits. Kimi tried to pass Kubica into turn one, Robert defends that one. Not sure where Piquet is now.

L54 – Kubica and Raikkonen side by side! Kimi gets pushed wide.
Massa pitted during that, we don’t see where he gets out. Timing shows Piquet is still up in 4th, good run from him.
L55 – Caption – Incident involving cars 2 and 14 to be investigated after the race. Massa and Bourdais..
Piquet had passed Trulli in those stops and is CATCHING the Kubica/Raikkonen fight! We go to ads again. I reckon Piquet is driving for his career, there have been rumours di Grassi or Grosjean will replace him.

L58 – Piquet radio: “you’re 1 second quicker than Raikkonen, let’s see if we can overtake him”

10 to go: Alonso, Kubica, Raikkonen, Piquet, Trulli, Bourdais, Vettel, Webber, Heidfeld, Massa, Rosberg, Hamilton, Rubens, Button, Nakajima.

L61 – Martin can see that Kimi’s rear tyres have gone away, the fight now is Massa vs Heidfeld, we cut to it – Massa passes Heidfeld on the main straight! P9 now, Webber is next up but is somewhat slower after chewing up his tyres one-stopping.
Slowmo close-up of Webber’s front tyres, he’s worn the grooves away! No wonder he’s slow.

L63 – Piquet has dropped away from Raikkonen. Ted reports Lewis has been slow all day due to damage to his bargeboards and other aero devices on lap one.
L65 – Massa passes Webber for 8th position and one point, bit of a risky move against the pitwall, he could have gone the other side of Webber. Martin says that’s what Raikkonen should have done against Kubica!

L66 – Renault guys run across pitlane to climb on the wall. Hamilton unlaps himself from Alonso. Martin: It may seem pointless but if anyone breaks down on the last lap he’ll gain a position or two.

L67 – ALONSO WINS!

Two in a row. Well driven. Kubica 2nd, Raikkonen 3rd, Piquet, Trulli, Bourdais, Vettel, Massa, Webber, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Hamilton, Barrichello, Button, Naka.

Cars roll into pitlane. Alonso climbs on to his car in his usual style. Ted is with Alan Permane, the guy on Alonso’s radio. “We’re going for four in a row!”
Top 3 are making their way upstairs. Bit of water.. that’s right make sure you tidy up your overalls, get that money in.. and outside to the podium..
Spanish anthem for Alonso.
French anthem for Renault (though the cars are made in Britain). Alonso chatting to Kubica through this one.
Points mean prizes, Alonso gets given something so big he can put his 50″ plasma screen on it.
Champagne!

7:30am, I’m going back to bed. I’ll add full results and points later. I might even watch the afternoon rerun to watch the pre-race and post-race talking. I half-listened to the post-race, ITV did get out of there pretty quickly, I was speedily re-reading this for errors but I can’t take in any more information.. will proofread again later!

EDIT – Provisional Race Results
(from autosport.com)
01. Alonso 67 laps in 1h30:21.892 [10 points]
02. Kubica +5.283 [8]
03. Raikkonen +6.400 [6]
04. Piquet +20.570 [5]
05. Trulli +23.767 [4]
06. Bourdais +34.085 [3]
07. Vettel +39.207 [2]
08. Massa +46.158 [1]
09. Webber +50.811
10. Heidfeld +54.120
11. Rosberg +1:02.096
12. Hamilton +1:18.900
13. Barrichello + 1 lap
14. Button + 1 lap
15. Nakajima + 1 lap
DNF Fisichella
DNF Kovalainen
DNF Sutil
DNF Glock
DNF Coulthard

Fastest Lap: Massa 1:18.426 (Kimi will have to wait to claim that record)

World Driver’s Championship Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 78 Massa
03. 72 Kubica
04. 63 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 48 Alonso
08. 30 Trulli [+1]
09. 29 Vettel [-1]
10. 20 Glock & Webber
12. 18 Piquet

The title gap reduces by 1 point. Kubica is still closing in on the main protagonists. Alonso is rapidly catching Kovalainen.

World Constructor’s Championship Points
01. 141 Ferrari [+1]
02. 135 McLaren [-1]
03. 128 BMW
04. 66 Renault
05. 50 Toyota

McLaren scored zero here, Ferrari get 6 and BMW 8 to gain on the pair of them. The biggest points haul was Renault with 15.

UPDATE AFTER PENALTIES
Sebastien Bourdais has been given a 25-second penalty for causing a collision with Felipe Massa on exiting the pitlane. I wish I was making this up because that’s bullshit! He wasn’t given the racing room, Massa tagged him not the other way around.

This drops Bourdais from 6th to 10th and gives Vettel, Massa and Webber an extra point each. The affected section of the results:

06. Vettel +39.207 [3]
07. Massa +46.158 [2]
08. Webber +50.811 [1]
09. Heidfeld +54.120
10. Bourdais +34.085 + 25.000s = +59.085s

Revised WDC Points
01. 84 Hamilton
02. 79 Massa
03. 72 Kubica
04. 63 Raikkonen
05. 56 Heidfeld
06. 51 Kovalainen
07. 48 Alonso
08. 30 Vettel & Trulli
10. 21 Webber
11. 20 Glock
12. 18 Piquet

Vettel places ahead of Trulli on ‘quality of results’, i.e. if you are on the same points the decider is your best finishing position.

Revised WCC Points
01. 142 Ferrari [+1]
02. 135 McLaren [-1]
03. 128 BMW
04. 66 Renault
05. 50 Toyota
06. 36 Toro Rosso
07. 29 Red Bull
08. 26 Williams
09. 14 Honda
10. 0 Force India & Super Aguri

The next race is the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend, the penultimate round of the Championship!

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7 thoughts on “Race Notes: 2008 Japanese Grand Prix”

  1. I can’t imagine how there’s any doubt that the FIA is completely biased toward Ferrari at this point. Lewis gets a penalty for doing something at the first turn that happens probably once every 4-5 GPs with no penalty (he didn’t even touch anybody!), Massa gets a toothless drive-through for blantantly trying to take Lewis out, and then Bourdais gets a 25 second penalty when his incident with Massa could just as easily be put on Felipe’s head instead (I think it was Massa’s fault too). Just unbelievable. After the events of Fuji and Spa, if Felipe wins the championship by less than 5 points, there should be an asterisk next to 2008 in the record books.

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  2. Those were ridiculous calls on the part of the stewarts. I feel like I wasted two hours of my day yesterday for no good reason. I won’t make that mistake again for the next one.

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  3. It was total bullshit. Even the casual fan at work was astonished when he asked if Massa ended up with the penalty, and I told him it went the other way.aspeed: I didn’t think Massa deliberately tried to take Lewis out, but he was wrong to cut across. I agree that Massa needs to win this by a clear margin. It is actually 7 points gained by him if you count Spa and Fuji together, so he needs to win by 8.meesh: Given your timezone I don’t blame you. I’m going to watch to see the entire paddock lining up to denounce it as rubbish (except the red ones).

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  4. Nice noting as usual. I agree on your calls of heinous bullshit on the Bourdais penalty. Not sure what more Bourais could have done except as Meesh said, levitate. I envy your world feed because you seem to have actual pit reporters who talk to actual drivers who get knocked out during the race. Over here in the Colonies we just get Pete Windsor chiming in with weather reports. He never talks to, say, Adrian Sutil about why his car is a festival of shredded rubber. Lame.

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  5. Thanks Mr Dog. Sounds like your coverage is where ours was many years ago, with one or zero reporters at the track and the commentary coming from a studio nowhere near it… Ours is a UK feed rather than a world one, though I understand ITV’s words also reach Canada, Australia and New Zealand.In forums and suchlike I’ve found ‘world feed’ tends to refer to the video feed with the F1 logo in the corner, which has race audio but no talking. F1/FOM expects the TV rights holders to provide their own talking or do a deal for someone else’s.We all hear Peter Windsor in the press conf so he’s on double-duty every race. Triple if he still does his writing for F1 Racing (I’ve not bought it for a while).IRL is different as they supply their own world feed commentary for everyone to use, which until now was provided by ESPN. I have no idea who will do Surfers because the international guys signed off for good in Chicago. I might ‘acquire’ the US coverage again.

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  6. Windsor is at the track and does his grid walk, but he never talks to any drivers — or anyone else, for that matter — after the race starts. Odd. Our booth team — Matchett, Hobbs and Varsha are great. Sideline reporting is lame. I think Windsor said once he wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone during the race. Speed must not have paid enough money to get a hot pit pass from Bernie. Maybe if Windsor put on a Ferrari jacket they’d let him talk to anyone.

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  7. Well that’s just stupid. He’s there, use him!One of our reporters isn’t in the pits, she’s running around the trucks and hospitality looking for drivers. He could do that.

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