|Circuit||Suzuka International Racing Course
|Distance||307,471 km / 191,094 miles|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||SF71H||–||Scuderia Ferrari||6.|
|7||Kimi Raikkonen||SF71H||–||Scuderia Ferrari||5.
Maurizio Arrivabene: ”After what happened in qualifying, today the team and the drivers fought back well. The podium could have been within our grasp, but unfortunately, damage on both cars, as a result of collisions in the race, affected the final result. Regardless of what is now a very difficult situation in terms of the championship, we will tackle the coming races giving them our best shot, maintaining concentration and determination.”
Kimi Raikkonen: ”After the contact with Max I saw some parts flying off my car; it was damaged pretty badly on the left hand side. Obviously, this affected negatively the rest of my race. What happened is unfortunate and after that it was pretty difficult to drive on. I had lost a lot of downforce, but there was not much I could do. It’s impossible to know what our performance would have been without that accident at the chicane; we had improved the car over the weekend, it was getting better and better, but unfortunately this is what we have got today. It’s been a difficult and poor weekend overall, the result is not ideal. Now we need to look deeply on everything and hopefully we’ll come back at the next race on a more normal situation where we’ll be able to fight.”
Sebastian Vettel: ”Today, I found it quite inspirational walking through the garage and watching the guys work! All the team is fired up and that certainly helps, as the last couple of weeks haven’t been that easy. The spirit is unbroken despite everything. Races like this are a bit of a hand-over and we know it is difficult from where we are in the point standings, but we don’t have much to lose. We have given everything so far and I believe there’s still something we can learn and understand from the car. So we keep fighting and resisting and we’ll see what the other races bring. As for the collision with Max, I was obviously pushing to pass, I knew he had a penalty, but I also felt that we were fast. I could see that his battery was clipping, while I had saved some energy from mine. I saw a gap and went for it on the inside, he obviously tried to defend and I couldn’t go anywhere, so we touched. However, this is part of racing.”
Cars damaged in the race, but the team fights back
Suzuka, 7 October –Fifth and sixth places for Kimi and Seb respectively for Scuderia Ferrari in Japan. It was probably the most we could do after the problems in qualifying, both cars being damaged as a result of collisions in the race, which meant Sebastian had to fight his way back up the field.
FILM OF THE RACE –Kimi and Seb were on Supersoft tyres for the start, fourth and eighth respectively on the grid. It was hot, with an air temperature of almost 30 degrees and track temp at 37. Kimi maintained his position, while Seb hugged the right hand side and immediately made up two places. He then got past Grosjean with a miracle move around the outside of Spoon. At the end of the opening lap, Verstappen went straight on at the chicane and as he rejoined he nearly took out Kimi, who had to slow, which meant Seb moved up to fourth. The incident was investigated by the Stewards, who gave Max a 5 second penalty, while Ferrari Number 7 had some damage from then on.
Lap 3 and the Safety Car came out as bits of Magnussen’s tyre were all over the track. The race was on again on lap 7 without any changes to the order. On the next lap, Seb gave it a go, attacking Verstappen on the inside of Spoon, but they touched and the Ferrari spun. Sebastian rejoined in 18th place and began fighting his way up the order, passing Ericsson. The move was investigated but no action was required.
On lap 18, Kimi pitted taking on Mediums, before passing Ocon to go eighth. Seb meanwhile worked his way up to twelfth. Verstappen pitted and took his penalty. Kimi closed on him but lost time behind Gasly and could not pass. His lap times were affected by the earlier damage and he found himself fifth behind Ricciardo after the pit stop.
Vettel made his stop after 27 laps and fitted the yellow-banded Softs. It was showtime and he was straight back in the points, as high as seventh when he set a fastest race lap on lap 33. He then gained another place before his pace matched Kimi’s who was too far ahead to be caught. But in the end, Vettel at least had the satisfaction of the fastest lap of the afternoon in 1’32”318. “The car was strong,” commented Seb. Despite everything.
Kimi and Seb on today’s Qualifying at Suzuka-and the race to come
KIMI (P4, 1min29sec521, SS tyres): “It was a tricky qualifying with mixed conditions. In Q3 we thought that the rain would come earlier, so we decided to go out on Intermediate tires. Unfortunately it did not happen and then we were a bit off with the timing. We came in to fit the Supersoft , but in turn 14 I touched a wet kerb, ran a bit wide and lost some time. Obviously fourth place is not ideal, but at least we were able to put a lap together despite the mistake. Third position could have been easily possible. It’s a pity we did not get it today; the feeling with the car was getting better and better in qualifying. For sure tomorrow is going to be tricky, but we will do our best”.
SEB (P9, 1min32sec192, SS tyres): “At the beginning of Q3, I was asked if it was ok for me to go out on Inters and I said yes. Obviously, it was the wrong decision and now it’s easy to say, but it could have been the other way around. We thought there could have been more rain, but in the end it didn’t come. If it had rained five minutes before, it would have been a different story. However, it wasn’t our session in terms of timing and we’ve been through similar situations a couple of time so far. We are a team, so now we accept together the consequences. Tomorrow is another day, it won’t be easy as we start from the back, but it’s not impossible”.
Seb and Kimi comment on free practice 2 in Suzuka
SEB (P3, 36 laps completed, best 1min29sec050 on Supersofts): “All in all I am satisfied, as I think this Friday has been a smooth one for us, but we aren’t fast enough yet. Today we tried something with the car, which seemed to give a better feeling, so let’s see if we can carry this over tomorrow and find something else, too. Today I think the car slid a little bit too much, thus damaging the tires, but I believe that, overall it was a clean session with no interruptions.
We are trying to get the best out of our package, so we keep focusing on our job. Tonight we have to work hard because we need to be fast in qualifying. Obviously, if the others are as strong tomorrow as they were today, then it will be very hard, but we’ll see. Rain could make things more interesting tomorrow, but for now we keep working hard, doing our job and then we’ll see. It’s a long weekend and today is only Friday, so I am sure there’s still a bit to squeeze out of the car”.
KIMI (P5, 33 laps completed, best in 1min29sec498 on Supersofts): “This has been a normal Friday, both in terms of the things we tried and of engine usage. We have been focusing on trying to get the best set-up for the car and towards the end of the session it felt better to drive, but for sure we have some work to do before tomorrow. I don’t know if it will be raining or not during P3 and Qualifying, we’ll have to see what the weather brings”.
Seb and Kimi ahead of the Japanese GP weekend
SEB: It has been only a few days since the last race in Sochi, so we hope that the track here suits us better and we can have a better weekend than in Russia. We have a strong car, but not a dominant one. There were races from our side where we weren’t close enough and where we didn’t have the pace the others had. However, during most of the races we have been close enough to have a good fight.
I’m very happy to be here and I love this track, it’s my favourite circuit in the world, so I just want to enjoy it and focus on the things that are working well for me. We made some progress with our car, but you never know where you are in comparison to the others; maybe they have done smaller steps or bigger steps, but I’m pretty sure, from speaking to all our engineers, that we are pretty much where we would like to be or where we wanted to be. Of course, you would always like to have more performance, but that’s the same for everyone. As for the weather, since it may be raining this weekend, I think we have nothing to worry about in wet conditions. The rain didn’t play into our hands but it won’t be like that forever, so I’m not afraid if it’s wet before Sunday.
KIMI: The weather will play a big part over the weekend, for everybody. Hopefully we can have a clean practice session. A lot will depend on the weather conditions and how much we can run. When we have mixed conditions as we have today, you cannot really be 100 per cent sure that in an hour it is going to rain; so you need to try to get the best out of all the practice and see how it is. When it rains, it often makes things tricky; if it is too wet we cannot run, plus with rain tires we have certain limits in how many we are allocated, so we have to save some of them for qualifying and the race. Driving in the wet has probably not been our strongest point a while ago, but on a few occasions, recently, we have been pretty good. Also in the last race we were quite fast, but not as fast as we wanted to be. Hopefully here will be a different story. For sure it’s not going to be easy, we’ll wait and see what happens. We’ll do our best and try to be in the fight for both qualifying and the race.
Suzuka, the most popular track and the most copied
Concerns about typhoon Trami, which unfortunately has caused serious damage in Japan, have now passed. The days leading up to the Grand Prix have been beautifully sunny, with temperatures reminiscent of late summer. But the forecast says more rain is on the way, in bursts that could last until just before qualifying on Saturday.
A large part of the team flew to Japan directly from Russia. It’s always exciting to see the Suzuka International Circuit come to life with each passing day, as the families bringing their children to enjoy the amusement park mingle closely with the Formula 1 fans, who are truly unique in terms of their passion and inventiveness.
Ask any driver, and the Scuderia Ferrari pair is no exception, to list their three favourite tracks, 99 percent of them will include this one, designed in 1962 by Dutchman John Hugenholz, as a test track for Honda. It’s actually a modular design, allowing for a variety of configurations and lengths according to the type of racing. The 5.807 kilometre-long Grand Prix layout is definitely the best known. A run of corners that follow one another without pausing for breath make up the double uphill “esses,” which have inspired more modern facilities such as Austin. There’s not much heavy braking, top speeds reach 330 Km/h, even if there are no long straights and overtaking is not easy, while the drivers can never stop working. It’s a track where finding a good rhythm and having good aero balance are the keys to success.