Ooooh what a weekend.
First off I'm up at some ungodly hour of Saturday Morning to watch the BBC try to make a very very wet Japanese track look exciting. I switched off at the point Eddie Jordan handed over two paper boat and tried to have a race in the stream running through the pit lane. It was just not going to improve from there really.
Which left Qualifying to be run at 2am British time. Which was excellent news as it meant i had a reason to stay up and watch the Ozzy Bathurst 1000km which started at 12.30 am and didn't finish until 7am, when the F1 race started in Japan.
It was motor sport heaven. An hour and a half of big grunty Australian V8's motoring up Mount Panorama is truly a site to behold, like Le Mans, Monaco and the Indy 500 i think it's one of those races a Petrol head has to have on their list of things to do before they die. Bathurst is like a mini Nurburing, It's narrow, dangerous and very fast. On the opening lap, after tagging a slow starting car off the line, driver Fabian Coulthard lost control of his Holden at 300kph into the chute corner and barrel rolled his car six times before he came to rest in the gravel trap. Just think about that. 300kph a little over 185 mph and he turns in to find he has a rear puncture and he has no steering or brakes at this point. The car was completely destroyed. All that remained was roll cage bolted to an engine. Mr Coulthard, once the car had come to rest, made sure all his arms and legs were still in place than calmly climbed out of what remained of his car and walked off to the pits.
They build them strong in Australia.
By 2am I'm ready for some F1 and thankfully it's a dry track in Japan. I'm not sure, the red wine and port had kicked in by 2.30am but i think it was a pretty dull qualifying with all the usual suspect in the right place. Vettel looked miles faster than the rest, only Webber, Kubica and Alonso looked like keeping him honest. Hamilton did well but after hitting the wall in practice he'd had to change his gearbox so got knocked back 5 places to 8th for the afternoon race. He was putting a brave face on it, but i think his title chances have pretty much gone now.
I had planned to watch the V8's, but the red wine had other ideas and I passed out at 3.30am, i think.
But not before setting the alarm which woke me up just as the cars are setting off on their formation lap. A quick check on the V8's and some one in a vodaphone had won and I'd missed it all for yet another year.
The F1 start kicked off almost immediately, with Petrov taking out Hulkenburg off the line, then Massa got lost on the way into turn one and speared across the track into a hapless Liuzzi. With Di Grassi crashing before he'd even got to the line we were 5 cars down before the end of the first lap. Then as Kubica was following the safety car behind Vettel as they cleared up the carnage, the poor Polish chap lost his right rear wheel and stopped halfway round the track . Six cars out, the Redbulls off in the distance and no one really taking the fight to them.
Button had gone for starting the race on the harder tires, hoping to stay out longer and try to gain some places. But the Redbulls just pitted, then caught Button and waited for him to pit. Alonso had a bit of a go, got the fastest lap a few times, but each time he did Vettel just went faster. Once Hamilton lost the use of the first three gears in his new gearbox, all the fun was over up front. Thankfully Kobayashi kept us all entertained with a few wild over taking moves, and Rosberg crashed with a few laps to go.
So it's Vettels third win of the season and put's him right back in contention. Eddie Jordan believes that he can now go on and win the last 3 races. He was all over this track all weekend and never once looked like being beaten. Webber doesn't yet have enough points to cruse to the title so it's going to come down to these two and how they get on. If they start taking each other out, Alonso could still sneak it. But Vettel who looked dead and buried 4 races ago is right back in the hunt. He was fast and confident all weekend and didn't need any luck to keep this win. A pretty easy pole and but for Webber getting all racy at the end he'd have had the fastest lap too. But it all only seems to work for him when he's at the front and the car holds together.
Webber, once again got lucky that Kubicas wheel fell off so he didn't have to racer him. But the luck didn't quite hold out to Vettel giving him the win. The pressure is now on the Ozzy to keep the lead in the championship. He needs the others to slip up or get some wins in the remaining races. He nicked fastest lap on the final lap to prove to Vettel that he's still a wheel failure away from the title. But i think the pressure might just be starting to tell on the Ozzy.
Alonso did what he could on a circuit that wasn't supposed to suit the Ferrari. He was there or there about all weekend, but never looked as fast as the Redbulls. He claims the next three races are going to be his for the taking, but i really doubt it. The Ferrari just couldn't match the Redbulls on the fast or the slow bits and Alonso was really just racing Hamilton until his gearbox got the gremlins.
Button in 4th benefited from Hamilton's gearbox problems, tried to be a bit tricksy in qualifying with hard tires for the start. But even that couldn't help him take the fight to the Redbulls. He's pretty much out of the championship now.
Hamilton is lucky to bring the car home in 5th. He was chasing Alonso down with fastest lap after fastest lap, until the new gearbox 3ed gear box went pop and locked him into 4th to 7th gear. He still managed to be faster than the two Mercedes behind him, but Button cruses up to him and passed with ease. He's still the best driver on the grid in my opinion and I'm sure he can win again. Abu Dhabi or Brazil could easily be his with a bit of luck. It just seems that Lady luck has got the huff with him at the moment.
Mickey Schumacher makes it to 6th after Rosberg's rear wheel fell off. Mickey couldn't get past Rosberg for a whole bunch of laps and looked ordinary as usual. This result goes some way to make up for the mess of Singapore but not by much.
Kobayashi drove a great race to get from 14th on the grid. He passed car after car going into the hairpin and i suspect he actually planned to pass a few of them. He certainly put on a show for the home crowed and has certainly emerged as a bonafid racing star this year. He's tied into a Sauber contract for the next few years, but you have to wonder why he hasn't been picked up by the likes of Renault while drivers like Petrov cock around. He didn't look he was going to be satisfied with just tooling around this weekend and he went for every gap presented to him. Avoided the carnage at the start of the race and fully deserves he points.
Heidfeld picked up 8th behind his team mate. Considering this is only his second race of the year, that's no mean feat.
Barrichello in 9th get's this weeks "was he there i missed him entirly" award. No, i tell a lie, i saw him being passed by Schumacher and Kobayashi.
Buemi in 10th well done him.
There you go then, I'm knackered. It's been a long weekend of motor sport an i need some sleep.
Hopefully we'll all be back for Korea in two weeks time, but given the pictures of the circuit floating around the net, i don't think it's going to happen. I've seen the layout and it looks like an interesting place, but they've only just put the top layer of tarmac on so it'll be like a skating rink for the race. But we'll see how much money they're prepared to pay Bernie i suppose.