For last weekend’s Formula 1 race it was the turn of Suzuka to host. Having never won at the Japanese Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton was determined to secure the win and edge ever closer to the world championship title win.
With the Brit ahead in the title race by a mere three points, his closest rival being his teammate Nico Rosberg, a win for Hamilton was much needed.
Following a crash in final practice Hamilton didn’t quite have what it took to grab the vital pole position, having to start second best to Rosberg. Mercedes once again looked like an unstoppable force with their nearest likely challengers the Williams’ of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
All weekend the possibility of a typhoon was a cause for concern, torrential rains and wind threatening to cause mayhem for the Sunday race. Talk was heard of moving the race forward to avoid the worst of the weather but it was eventually decided that the race would go ahead as already scheduled.
There was plenty of gossip and talk in the paddock ahead of the race with Sebastian Vettel announcing that he is to leave Red Bull at the end of the season. It is likely that he will make the move to Ferrari whilst Fernando Alonso is said to be heading to McLaren, possibly leaving Jenson Button out in the cold.
Christian Horner, team principal for Red Bull, also made the shock announcement that Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat will be filling Vettel’s spot after only one season in Formula 1, a definite snub to teammate Jean Eric Vergne.
During the driver’s parade the rain began, the drivers forced to huddle under umbrellas as they did their round of the circuit. As the cars moved onto track Force India’s Sergio Perez aquaplaned, luckily no harm being done. It was certain from the off that the race would be hampered by the poor weather conditions.
Red Bull Return
The race began under the safety car, Rosberg leading the pack. After less than ten minutes the conditions were considered too dangerous to continue, the race stopped until the weather improved. Twenty minutes later the race was restarted, once again behind the safety car. On just lap 3 of this restart Alonso’s car pulled to a halt following engine failure due to water entering the car’s system.
By lap nine the safety car had returned to the pit lane, the rain having eased off, allowing the real racing to begin. Rosberg continued to lead the way whilst Button pitted for intermediates. After only a few laps Button managed to move up into third place, an inspired decision from him and the team to change tyres.
The Williams pair were struggling with downforce out on track, allowing the Red Bulls to capitalise on this. Daniel Ricciardo pulled some stunning overtakes out of the bag, finding grip that seemingly no one else could. Into the 20th lap the Red Bulls were the fastest on circuit, quicker than even the Mercedes.
It was another dire show from Ferrari as a pit stop for Kimi Räikkönen took far too long, leaving the Finn out of the points for the duration of the race. On turn one of lap 29 Hamilton finally managed an overtake on Rosberg, successfully completing it to take the lead.
Button’s fabulous performance was set for him to take his first podium of the season but a shockingly slow pit stop that required a steering wheel change left the Brit in fifth and unable to beat the Red Bulls. 15 laps later the rain came pouring once again.
Adrian Sutil lost control of his Sauber and careered into the barrier at Dunlop, bringing the safety car back out. As the cars continued around the track the race was once again ended with drivers and fans concerned for Sutil as an ambulance had been brought out onto track.
As the cars returned to the pit lane the Marussia of Jules Bianchi was missing and it was later announced that the Frenchman had lost control at the same area as Sutil and had crashed directly into the digger that was retrieving the Sauber. The news came as a shock to the paddock as Bianchi was rushed to hospital with severe head injuries
The podium continued as usual with Hamilton taking the win, Rosberg and Vettel close behind him. Ricciardo had finished in fourth with Button unable to move any higher after his slow pit stop. Both Williams followed with the Force India’s of Perez and Nico Hulkenberg also in the top ten, as well as Toro Rosso’s Vergne who managed to outperform teammate Kvyat.
It was a muted end to the race with all the drivers’ thoughts focused on Bianchi. It has been announced that the Marussia driver was unconscious when taken to hospital to undergo surgery.
Button has since tweeted:
My thoughts are with fellow driver Jules Bianchi. The whole of the Motorsport world is pulling for you. #F1family ForzaJules
— Jenson Button (@JensonButton) October 5, 2014
The next race at the new track of Sochi in Russia takes place this weekend in only a few days’ time and whilst it will certainly be a new and interesting circuit the weekend will most likely be a subdued one, following the incidents of Japan.
Hamilton now leads the title by ten points from Rosberg so the German will need to up his game considerably if he is to attempt to reclaim it.
But for now all thoughts go to Jules Bianchi and his family in this difficult time.
What did you think of the race? Have your say in the comments section below.