|Circuit||Suzuka International Race Course
|Distance||307,471 / 191,094 miles|
Maurizio Arrivabene: “You’re never completely happy when you don’t win the race, but I think this result should not be compared with what we had achieved in Singapore one week ago. We’d rather compare this track to Silverstone, because it has similar characteristics. And if we look back at the British Grand Prix, at the gap that we had there to our main rivals, we can see that today we have been closer. And this means that there has been a major development in all areas, starting from our power unit. As for the strategy, we were in doubt as to shortcut the Mercedes or pit after them; but there were not many data available from practice, due to the rain on Friday, so making certain choices would have meant a huge risk for the life of the tires.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today we did the maximum we could and, considering where we had started the race from, fourth position is the best we could get. The car was OK and we had the right speed, but on a circuit like this, when you are stuck behind other cars, it’s always hard to overtake. We did a good job at the pit stop, managed to jump Bottas on the way out, and chose the right tires at the right time. I don’t think we could have done much more. This kind of track is not the best for us right now, but it seems things have worked well today. There’s still work to be done, but we are doing the right things and going in the right direction. Obviously, we always want to be at the top, but I think we have done an amazing job all year long and since last year. Now we keep doing the same progresses and try to improve. We take what we have got today and go to the next race trying to do the maximum.”
Sebastian Vettel: “All in all, today there is plenty of reasons to be happy with third place. At the second round of pit-stops, we were surprised by the outlap that Nico pulled. I guess we thought the gap was big enough, so you can’t say we made a mistake. But in the end it’s a bit of a shame when you cross the line; I think that if we could have stayed ahead it would have been difficult for Nico to pass, as around there it is not so easy to get close, and we saw that he struggled a long time with Bottas. But we have to accept that Mercedes were just a bit quicker and for this reason they deserved to be ahead. Nevertheless, third and fourth is a great result for the team. We got good points, and it was a strong recovery after a difficult Saturday morning.”
|Pit-stop||1st stop||Lap 14||New Hard|
|2nd stop||Lap 28||New Hard|
|Pit-stop||1st stop||Lap 13||New Hard|
|2nd stop||Lap 30||New Hard|
Weather: air 27/28 °C, track 39/42 °C. Sunny
Scuderia Ferrari leaves Japan with a good points haul. Tenth podium of the season for Vettel
Suzuka, 27 September – A good start and a consistent pace saw Sebastian Vettel come home third in the Japanese Grand Prix. Having moved up to second in the exciting opening moments after the start, the German was undercut by Nico Rosberg at the second and final tyre change. Kimi Raikkonen had a tough race and produced a faultless performance to come home fourth. Vettel and Raikkonen both consolidate their championship positions, in third and fourth places respectively. So too the Scuderia, which extends its lead over third placed Williams in the Constructors’ classification.
Kimi Raikkonen: “The result of this qualifying is a bit disappointing, as we had a good speed all the way through and the behavior of the car was pretty good. The first two qualifying laps went well, bu my first run in Q3 was average, my tires did not have the right grip. It’s a bit disappointing not having been able to run my
second lap: I’m sure we could have improved, but the red flag stopped the session. For the race tomorrow it’s a bit unknown, because nobody had the time to run in dry conditions and do long runs, but I think we should be fine. Hopefully we have done all things correctly so that we can gain some positions. It’s going to be a long race, starting behind other cars, but we’ll try to make a good start and then go from there.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It was a tricky session for myself. I didn’t really get going at the beginning, I couldn’t feel the car so I struggled a bit to find the right balance. On my second run on the medium tyres in Q3, there was a big improvement as compared to the lap I had done in Q2, as if the car had “become alive”. In the end we can be reasonably happy, I had a decent lap and I was a lot happier than previously; having scored a lap time which is competitive. Third place on the grid would have been the maximum today, but I missed this by one position. Mercedes are back to their usual level of competitiveness, as we have seen – unfortunately – all year. They will be the ones to beat tomorrow, but for sure we will try everything we can, even if we may expect stronger competition from Red Bull Racing and Williams.”
Seb and Kimi qualify fourth and sixth
Suzuka, 26 September –Qualifying to define the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix ended under the red flag today. A crash from Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull meant the remaining nine drivers were unable to complete their final quick lap as the session was not restarted.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest, six tenths off poleman Nico Rosberg, while Kimi Raikkonen, a brilliant third quickest in Q2, had to settle for sixth place.
Raikkonen and Vettel sixth and eighth in free practice
Suzuka, 26 September – After Friday’s rain, the weather gods relented today in Suzuka and a dry session produced the first really useful data for qualifying and the race. Quickest in the third free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix were the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg (1.33.995) and Lewis Hamilton (1.34.292,) ahead of the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo (1.34.4979.) Kimi Raikkonen (1.35.082) and Sebastian Vettel (1.35.222) were sixth and eighth respectively. The Ferrari men began by working on long runs, to fine tune the balance and set-up, before moving on to trying some quick laps on low fuel. Both did 15 laps on the Medium compound after a single installation lap on the Hards.
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today the weather was not very good and the track conditions were a bit tricky. It’s a shame for everybody but it was a day like any other for us: we did some running and tried to learn something. We have to wait until tomorrow and see how the weather comes out to be, it could be anything. We’ll try to do a good job and make the best out of it.”
Sebastian Vettel: “We tried to do some laps but it was not so easy, because sometimes there was quite a lot of water on the track. In these conditions it’s a lot up to the driver if he wants to continue or not, feeling the tyres and feeling the conditions. Also, the conditions not being consistent, it’s not so easy to compare your car to other people’s car. In general at the beginning I think we were not where we wanted to be, but maybe in the end we learned some lessons. Now let’s see how the weather will be in the next couple of days.”
Ferrari fourth and seventh in first free practice
Suzuka, 25 September – The light rain which fell overnight influenced the job list in first free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
Sebastian Vettel was fourth in 1.50.519 behind a trio made up of Carlos Sainz Jr (1.49.434) in the Toro Rosso, the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat (1.49.938) and Nico Rosberg (1.50.077) in the Mercedes. On his way to seventh fastest in 1.51.212, Raikkonen did 15 laps on the Wet tyres, while Sebastian did his run on Intermediates.
Both men did some practice starts and gathered what data they could in their short time on track. Conditions are set to improve for the coming sessions.
Seb thrilled by Suzuka but reckons things will be different this weekend
“In Singapore we had a fantastic day, everything came together and we got the perfect result, but here in Suzuka is a very different race weekend, different circuit, different conditions, different tires. There we saw the Mercedes struggling, but we have to remain realistic: I think that a lot of things will change here and they will have the upper hand in the race. We look at ourselves, we do our job, we have a good car and more or less on all tracks this year we can do well. I like the track, it’s one of my favorites in the calendar and I think it’s the best circuit in the world. If you want to know how a F1 track should be, the first sector here sums it all up. It’s great to have so much support here, they are very passionate about racing, about the show of Formula 1 and drivers, it’s where you get people on the Grand Stand already on Thursday, when there are no cars going around, just to see how the cars get put together, how the mecanics work. This is the only time we come to their country so they really appreciate. And this makes our job a lot nicer.”
Kimi hoping for a good end to the championship
“Here it’s a different place and obviously the conditions will be different, between today and the next days the weather is supposed to change for the better but who knows … Obviously we hope to be in a good position, but that’s impossible to know now and there’s no point to start guessing what will happen. Our aim is always to win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. This hasn’t been an ideal year for me, from our side we have to make sure that we are going to have the result we want in the end. We’ll do our best to make it happen this year, if not, we’ll try next year. We hope to have a good second part of the championship for both of us, I’m not in the fight so I’ll race for Ferrari until the last weekend of the season. We are going to do our best and hopefully we are going to be up there.”
Gutierrez: an old style track layout
Maranello, 23 September –“I have mixed feelings about the Suzuka circuit,” Scuderia Ferrari’s third driver Esteban Gutiérrez tells ferrari.com. “It’s here that I scored my first points in FormulaOne and so this circuit means a lot to me. It’s made up of a lot of quick corners and it’s extremely technical. It holds so much history and it has a slightly old style configuration, the only track that includes a figure of eight with an underpass and its matching overpass. There are other equally strong but sad feelings because it was here that Jules had the accident that then took him from us. What happened serves as a reminder that our sport is dangerous and that safety measures must always be a priority.”
The team is on an upward trend, but talks of World Title are wide of the mark
Maranello, 22 September – Sebastian Vettel’s win at the last Singapore Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen joining him on the podium, has been a formidable boost to the team’s morale, and a proper reward to all the work the Scuderia has being doing so far. It was pretty obvious for the media to jump on the opportunity to talk about revamped chances to clinch the World Championship: but at the Scuderia, we have a different view, and all of us still keep our feet firmly on the ground.
One thing we definitely learned from this season is that results not only depend on development work and great commitment from both the drivers and the team, but also on the nature of the tracks we race on. We knew that Singapore, with its tight corners calling for traction and braking stability, would match the characteristics of the SF15-T car. During the season the car has been improved and, if we were to race at Melbourne today, we would probably be two seconds a lap quicker than last March. But other teams are making progress too, and this weekend at Suzuka we start with a fresh page.
The Japanese track has features (not-so-hard braking, fast corners, harder tire compounds) which come closer to those of Silverstone and Barcelona, where our car had undoubtedly struggled more to match the pace of our main competitors. One thing is being aware that we have done a good job so far; another thing is thinking that we may easily close the gap between Seb and Lewis Hamilton in the Driver’s point standing, let alone the Constructors’ title fight.
The reality of facts is that we will probably have to face other race weekends which will be way more difficult that the one we’ve just left behind us. Of course, both drivers and team want to go for the best possible result every time; but that doesn’t automatically mean being capable of winning. Since the season began, the Scuderia has clinched three well-deserved wins, with Sebastian piling up more points than any other driver in the last few races, and Kimi back to the podium after doing very well in qualifying for the last two races. But we still have a long way to go, our approaching curve to Mercedes still being far from complete. And at Maranello, we’re all well aware of this. That’s why we still greatly respect our opponents and, far from being self-complacent, we keep our head down and work hard. Instead of chasing dreams, we pursue our own growth at every race weekend.
A unique track
Maranello, 22 September –Suzuka is one of the true classic circuits on the calendar, very technical and complex. That’s why it’s one of the drivers’ favourites and Sebastian Vettel is definitely of that opinion, as he tells ferrari.com. “Suzuka is one of the favourite tracks for the drivers because it’s fast and flowing, with a lot of high speed corners, especially in the first sector with the double esses. It’s very nice, because you really feel you can push the car to the limit and that makes you feel very alive. It is very different compared to all the other tracks: there are a lot of quick corners, but also quite a few slow ones. This means there’s not just one way to go in terms of set-up and as usual, you need to find the right compromise. However, you concentrate mainly on the quick corners, because that’s where the driver must really feel comfortable with the car to be able to push hard. Qualifying is important at every track and Japan is no exception to that rule, but here, overtaking is possible and in fact we have seen that happen quite often during the race. The most usual place is the final chicane before the long straight, where the DRS can also be used to give an extra boost. Normally the race is very exciting, especially so if the rain comes”.