|Circuit||Suzuka International Racing Course|
|Distance||307,471 km / 191,094 miles|
||Scuderia Ferrari||retired/ spark plug|
Maurizio Arrivabene: “Once again, despite our car clearly having great potential, things did not go to plan. The problem that stopped Seb was down to a broken spark plug. We spotted that something was not right on the lap to the grid and we tried our best to fix the problem. Seb got a great start, but shortly afterwards we had to call him back to the garage prior to retiring the car. Kimi’s race was compromised by his less than ideal start position, which came about because of the penalty he had to take for a change of gearbox following his accident in P3. From there, he was able to move up the order as far as fifth place. As I’ve said before, we know that the car, the drivers and the team are all on the pace. That is why we will tackle the coming races with great effort and even more determination. Right up to the last corner of thelast Grand Prix.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Our starting position today was not ideal. I did a decent start on the soft tires and in the first lap I tried to gain some positions, but when I attempted to pass a Renault I ran wide and lost some places; so I had to make them back. The feeling in the car was a little bit tricky all the way through the race, not the nicest balance; some laps were ok, some others a bit more difficult. It’s quite tricky to follow other cars on this track; we did a fairly good job out of overtaking people but we were too far from those at the front. Obviously, the final result is far from being the best possible. As for Sebastian, I don’t know what happened; we have made a lot of improvements over the last few years as a team, but now, for whatever reason, we suddenly seem to have technical issues coming out from nothing. It’s kind of weird, our cars are running perfectly and suddenly on Sunday there is an problem that nobody expects. There is some work to be done on that side. Then we are going to push until the last lap of the last race and we’ll see where we end up.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I don’t know if this situation has much to do with reliability. But we didn’t finish the race, so there is a problem. I think it was a small issue causing a big one. We didn’t have power already at the start and we tried to reset everything getting the power back, but something didn’t work. Of course now the Championship is more difficult and not finishing the race doesn’t help. I also said to the guys to get back home and have some rest because it’s been a tough week with a lot of changes. Then we’ll come back with a better package to do well for the last four races and then we’ll see. Overall, I believe the team is in a good way. We are improving race by race and there are positive aspects too. But, of course, today you can’t look too much at positive things.”
He retires after a few laps. Kimi’s great fight back to fifth
Suzuka, 8 October –Scuderia Ferrari comes away from Japan with the points for fifth after Kimi made up that same number of places off the grid. From the outset, Sebastian Vettel was robbed of any chance to fight for the win, when a spark plug on one cylinder failed. However, Kimi’s performance proved that the team and the car are capable of getting the job done and until the maths says it’s over, we will keep trying. Moving on to the race: it started wth Seb on the right side alongside Hamilton, with Kimi tenth, after taking a penalty for the gearbox change between P3 and qualifying. Seb got off the line well, but not well enough to take the lead, as Kimi maintained position, before dropping down the order after running off track, while dueling with Hulkenberg. But on Seb’s car there was already a problem with the ignition and he lost one place on the opening lap. The Safety Car came out after Sainz crashed and Sebastian was sixth and losing ground. The number 5 car was called back into the pits and the mechanics tried to fix the problem. However, a few minutes later Seb climbed out of the cockpit. A spark plug was broken and it was pointless to go on. Meanwhile, having started on the Soft tyres he had used in Q2, Kimi found himself eighth, 18 seconds off the lead. He passed Massa on lap 14 and kept chasing. By lap 28, he was fourth before pitting for Supersofts and rejoining in sixth. At the start of lap 33, he set his sights on Hulkenberg and passed him. From then on, he managed the fuel and tyres in the closing stages, also putting in some very quick laps, while the Virtual Safety Car came out with four laps remaining. With two cars on track, it would have been a different story.
Seb will start from P2, Kimi’s car rebuilt in time for Qualifying
Suzuka, October 7th – A first-row grid position rewarded Seb’s efforts today, while Kimi had a troublesome Saturday. After crashing in the P3 session at Degner curve, a race against time started in the garage, which saw Ferrari’s mechanics complete the almost impossible task of re-building the car around a new gearbox in time to send Kimi out in Q1. He will have to serve a 5-slot grid penalty though, while Seb’s third best time is good enough for second place, as Valtteri Bottas also had to fit a new gearbox to his car and will therefore drops down the order. “I think the car was very good today”, Seb said “and I was happy with it, but it was just not enough for pole position. In my last run, I tried to push maybe a little too much, knowing that Valtteri wasn’t a threat because of his grid penalty, but it didn’t work. But overall, our car was fine. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and hot, which makes the difference and then we’ll see. We normally have a stronger car in the race than in Quali. It’s important to have a good balance here and then you can always try something with the stops. Also, I am confident we should have a good start, and that is important, but after that there are a lot of laps and strategy is important as well. In terms of pace, hopefully we should be closer to our competitors. We’ll see tomorrow”. Kimi’s comments echoed a difficult day: “It was not a great start of the day to go off track this morning in P3, not the ideal preparation for qualifying. After that, everything got more difficult, but the team did a great job to get the car back in one piece. In Qualifying the car felt ok, but it was a bit tricky; the biggest issue was the limited running we had had with new tires in the morning. In Q3, when I really had to push, I made a mistake in the first run and I had a pretty average lap time in the second one. Now I pay the price of my mistake. After my crash, we’ve got a five places penalty for replacing the gearbox. This obviously complicates our race even more. Tomorrow it’s not going to be easy, but I think that we have a good car for the race”.
Seb will start from second and Kimi gets a 5 place gearbox grid penalty
Suzuka, 7 October – Sebastian Vettel was third quickest in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix with a lap in 1’27”791. However, the German will start from second as Bottas has a penalty for changing his gearbox. Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest in 1’28”498, but he too takes a five place grid penalty as his transmission had to be changed following his crash in FP3. Once again the team produced a real miracle in rebuilding the Finn’s car in time for Q1. The race starts at 14h00 tomorrow local time, (07h00 CET.)
Seb third, Kimi crashes
Suzuka, 7October –After last night’s rain, the weather improved this morning prior to the final free practice session at the Suzuka circuit, which got underway at noon. The team began with some long run work, before going on to qualifying simulations. Seb was the quickest of the two Ferrari men, taking his SF70H round in 1’29”379. Unfortunately, Kimi had an off-track excursion when he lost the rear end at turn 9. The car ended up in the barriers, damaging the left side. It will be repaired in the garage in time for qualifying, which gets underway at 15h00 local time, (08h00 CET.)
Seb and Kimi believe the car can be on the pace-also in the wet
Suzuka, October 6 – An encouraging first session and a nearly useless second one sums up the first day of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix. After setting first and fourth best times respectively in the morning P1, Seb and Kimi limited their running to an installation lap each in a rain-soaked afternoon session. “Today we were expecting to have difficult conditions in the afternoon, so we focused on the morning session”, said Kimi. “We did a little bit more running and generally, we worked on our programme like every other Friday. Overall it was not bad and the feeling was ok. In the afternoon we did not even try to learn anything; we are limited on tires and we have to save the full wet compound in case qualifying is run in wet conditions. It’s a pity because we did not do a lot of laps, but at least we have got some ideas. As for tomorrow, let’s wait and see what happens in the morning and then through the day. Whatever it will be, we are going to do our best”. Seb added: “I think we had a decent morning. We tried a lot of things and it was good to feel the power of the car. This afternoon was expected to be wet. We would have loved to run a little bit more, but you can’t do the right amount of driving, because you don’t want to “burn” your tire supply in these conditions. The results of the last two races were not good, but the car is strong. We have every reason to be confident and I am sure that on Sunday we’ll be able to show what we can do. If tomorrow’s qualifying is wet, then we should improve. The last qualifying in wet conditions happened in Monza and it was not a good result. In Malaysia it was a little bit better, but we hope we learned our lesson. It’s up to us to get it right. Whatever the weather will be, I hope we can show our potential”.
Seb and Kimi only do an installation lap
Suzuka, 6 October – Torrential rain washed out the entire second free practice session. The two Ferrari drivers limited their activity to a single installation lap, running the Extreme tyres, without setting a lap time. FP3 starts at 12h00 local time tomorrow (05h00 CET.)
Kimi fourth. Soft and Supersoft tyres used
Suzuka, 6 October –Formula 1 is back in action for the 16th round of the World Championship in Japan, having come here straight from last Sunday’s race in Malaysia. At the end of the first free practice session, Sebastian Vettel was quickest with a lap in 1’29”166, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in 1’29”638. Both Scuderia Ferrari drivers used the Soft and Supersoft tyres. The session was red-flagged, after Carlos Sainz crashed in his Toro Rosso. Once the session restarted the Ferrari duo did some race configuration running.
Seb and Kimi relish the challenge of Suzuka
Suzuka, October 5 – It’s back to old Suzuka again: the Japanese Grand Prix landed here thirty years ago for the first time and the circuit has become a highlight of the championship ever since. Scuderia Ferrari drivers have made no secret of ranking Suzuka among their favourite tracks. The goal here is to keep the battle for the championship alive after the difficulties experienced in the last two Grands Prix.
“I believe we still have a chance” Sebastian says “and I want to be sure we’re going to use it. We’ve been looking at the issues we had in our cars and I think we have a pretty good understanding of them. But the process is still ongoing in order to get the big picture of what happened. At least it’s nice to hear that the gearbox should be OK after the accident on the slow-down lap at Sepang. As for this weekend in Japan, in the last two years we have not been competitive enough here, but this year it may be different; I am fairly open minded, but I’m convinced that we have a strong package. There are five races to go in the championship and we are behind in the points standings: the final outcome will also depend on what our competitors do”.
Kimi also relishes the challenge of the track: “Suzuka is a challenging circuit, a bit old style. It‘s quite narrow and the run-off areas, which used to be gravel, now have a tarmac surface. You need a good set-up to be able to push because in the first sector you can lose a lot of time. Here, like any circuit this year, I think we’ll be quicker. Because of the downforce we can be a bit slower in the straight, but through the corners we should be faster. There’s a lot of high speed corners, especially the first part. In the past, some corners have been a bit tricky, maybe this year they are going to be easier because we’ll be driving full speed through them. Hopefully our car will be where we have been lately. In the last race we have had an unexpected issue, bua a lot of work has been done to understand what failed. If that’s going to be enough to be first or second, we will see. The three top teams are pretty close, you have to get everything right and do your best. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will hold at some point, so that we can actually do some proper running”.
Even after 30 years, all drivers like it
Suzuka, 3 October – Torrential rain greeted the Scuderia Ferrari team members as they landed in Japan. However, the current forecast is for better weather over the weekend, with the possible exception of Friday.
The Suzuka track is one of the classics of the Formula One Championship and exactly 30 years ago, it hosted its first Grand Prix. On that occasion, the race was won by Gerhard Berger in a Ferrari F1/87, the Austrian having started from pole position. From then on, apart from a couple of years when the race returned to Fuji, Formula One has always raced at this track in the Mie prefecture.
The track is pretty much universally liked by the drivers, even if no one can forget the 2014 tragedy that befell Jules Bianchi, a rising star for motor racing and for the Prancing Horse. Technically, it’s an “old style” circuit, narrow, with minimal run-off areas, corners with only one clear line and an interesting range of turns. The best known of these is undoubtedly the double uphill “esses” after the first corner, a place where Michael Schumacher was particularly adept at making a difference and there was almost a sense of destiny in the fact that, twice, he clinched the Drivers’ title here with Ferrari, in 2000 and 2003.
The key to Suzuka, in terms of driving, is to find a rhythm, so that getting the flow right through the turns is the key to success. With the 2017 cars and their very high aerodynamic downforce levels, a tricky corner such as the famous 130R, named after the original radius of its turn, could almost become a straight. But that won’t make the Japanese track and it’s unusual setting within an amusement park, any less of a challenge. And as for the fans, they are truly unique when it comes to their level of passion and enthusiasm.