|Circuit||Suzuka International Race Course
|Distance||307,471 km / 191,094 miles|
Maurizio Arrivabene: ”Considering our starting position, being pushed back by a double penalty, we did the best we could today. It’s just a shame that the traffic from backmarkers did not allow Seb to take the best out of our strategy.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “After a good qualifying yesterday, the issue with the gearbox and the consequent starting position change was not ideal in this kind of track. Obviously there’s a lot of disappointment, as we had a good car and if we could have stayed in front we would have fought with more free air and with a lot of speed. I had a good start but then I got stuck behind other people: it was really tricky to follow other cars and it affected quite a bit the behavior. It was also difficult to stay close to them and attack them. Once we got past them and I was on my own, the car was quick and handling well. For sure today we were fast enough for a better result. Unfortunately that’s how it goes…”
Sebastian Vettel: ”We had a very good start and made good progress in the first two laps, passing Ricciardo and Perez, then we were faster than Verstappen. I think today we had the second fastest car. So it was a question of time, but obviously Max came in as soon as he could to maintain track position, which worked well for him. We tried to go on the softer tire in the end, which initially we thought would work well, but then we had too much degradation and we were falling off this group. It is always easy to criticize, and I am sure there are many ‘experts’ that knew better, but on the pitwall as well as in the car, I was keen to go for this strategy so to extend the second stint. It’s a fact I lost big chunks of time with the blue flags. I always got the lapped cars right in sector one, when they can’t move, so I was losing a lot of time, and there’s probably where I lost track position to Lewis, who always seemed to clear the lapped cars in the straight. But then the pace wouldn’t have probably been enough to challenge for the podium.”
Seb comes home fourth, with Kimi just behind
Suzuka, 9 October – Sebastian Vettel finished today’s Japanese Grand Prix in fourth place, thanks to several passing moves in the early stages, that saw him end up just off the podium. Raikkonen also had to fight his way up from the fourth row of the grid to fifth at the flag, having taken a five grid place penalty, following a gearbox change.
Nico Rosberg stood on the top step of the podium, taking the win for Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen: “Overall the car has been behaving quite good; we had suffered from some understeer, but we have been slowly getting better with the set up and the speed and I’m positively surprised how competitive and close to the Mercedes we were. Today the car was a bit less understeering, and this helped a lot in the first part of the lap. The third position is not too bad but obviously we want to be higher up. This is what we’ve got now and it’s a pity that Seb has a penalty, because the team had quite a strong session today. Obviously we are happy, but we still have some work to be done to improve things and we have to do another good day tomorrow. We sure have some speed and it’s not going to suddenly disappear tomorrow. Usually we are a bit better in the race, but we have to wait and see: it will depend on conditions and other stuff but we’ll do our best.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It has been a great result for us as a team; as for myself, obviously I messed up a bit in Q3 with the last sector, and lost a bit too much time. But, all in all, it has been a very good qualifying, our car has been handling well all through the sessions, due to a combination of many things, and it’s satisfying to be with both cars ahead of the Red Bulls. For sure, tomorrow I’ll have to start a bit further back because of the grid penalty, but this is what it is, we take it. Even so, I think the speed will help us to come back and then we’ll see what we can do. I think it will be a close fight. Much will depend on how people handle their tires, because in the first stint everybody starts on the same compound, then we see how the strategies develop.”
Seb fourth, but starts seventh
Suzuka, 8 October – At the end of today’s qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in 1.30.949, while Sebastian Vettel posted the fourth quickest lap in 1.31.028. However, Vettel has a three place penalty handed out by the Stewards after the Malaysian Grand Prix and so will start from seventh on the grid.
Starting from pole will be Nico Rosberg who produced a best lap of 1.30.647 in his Mercedes.
A damp track then traffic: Seb 3rd, Kimi 5th
Suzuka, 8 October – The third free practice session, just ended at Suzuka circuit, was the last chance to acquire useful data for qualifying and the race. Almost all the drivers opted to wait for track conditions to improve before venturing out on track, as there were still a few damp patches following overnight rain. Sebastian Vettel did one installation lap on Intermediates before both Ferrari men used one set of Mediums and another of Softs. Sebastian was third fastest in 1.32.731, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in 1.33.011, having run into traffic on his quick lap.
Nico Rosberg was fastest with a lap in 1.32.092.
Kimi Raikkonen: ”It was one of those days that seem a bit tricky but in the end go for better. My feeling with the car was not very nice, I suffered a lot with understeer and I was struggling with the balance through the first sector, but the lap time was ok. In the end we got a bit better, but we are not still where we want to be. In the second session I had a small electric issue, likely with a sensor, but we changed it and it was ok. Tomorrow is another day, we’ll try to work on small things to try to improve. If we get the car where we want and with a better feeling for sure we can go quite a bit faster.”
Sebastian Vettel: ”Overall,l I am not entirely happy with the balance of the car today, but I am sure this is something we can work on. I didn’t try the Medium compound, we focused more on the Soft tyre in the morning, and on the very Hard tyre in the afternoon. We tried to do our homework, but the balance is not there yet. We will now need to look at the data and see where we are, also compared to the others. Ideally you would always love to have more grip around here, because it feels fantastic if you do, but I am sure we can tune the balance and distribute the grip a bit better, so that we will be in a better shape tomorrow. As for race expectations, a podium finish is always possible, there might even be rain at some point. It sure doesn’t help if you start further at the back (because of the grid penalty), but overtaking is possible, even if it is not so easy.”
Kimi and Seb split the tyre programme to go 3rd and 5th fastest
Suzuka, 7 October – The Ferraris finished third and fifth fastest in the final 90 minutes of free practice on this Friday in Suzuka. The two drivers worked on different programmes in their SF16-Hs, while preparing for qualifying and the race. Kimi Raikkonen, third in 1.32.573, alternated between Medium and Soft tyres, while Sebastian, who was fifth fastest in 1.33.103, fitted the hardest tyre available here in Japan, the Hard. The only glitch was a minor electrical problem on Kimi’s car, which was quickly resolved, as the Finn completed 26 laps, eight fewer than his team-mate.
Rosberg was quickest of all in the session, doing a 1.32.250 on Soft tyres.
Seb 3rd fastest, 1 place ahead of Kimi
Suzuka, 7 October – According to the weather forecast, this is the only day that should be totally dry as those entered in the 17th round of the Formula 1 World Championship got down to business in Suzuka. On Sunday, this super track will host the 32nd running of the Japanese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the first free practice session, with a time of 1.33.525, to finish just ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, whose best lap was a 1.33.817. Aerodynamic comparison runs and mechanical set-up work were the order of the day for both Ferrari men, after Kimi did one installation lap on the Hard tyres and Seb did two. After that, they switched to the softest tyre available, the Soft.
Fastest was Nico Rosberg (1.32.431) followed by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton (1.32.646.)
Seb explains reasons for being optimistic
“Suzuka is a phenomenal track and I have been lucky to have had so many podiums and wins here. As for us, we are not happy with our performance so far, if we could change it in a day we would. The last race was obviously not very good in terms of Constructors points, but I still believe we should be up against the best in the next races. That’s our target. Despite the lack of success this year so far, I think it has been a very good season if I look at the process behind the scenes. Of course you don’t see it yet clicking and happening on the track but I think I wouldn’t swap with last year. It was good and we had some success, but I think to set ourselves out for the future is very important. We get along well together, the work inside the team has improved massively. The secret is not just to get the right people or to get them to work but also to get everybody to work with each other and this is something that has been tremendously improved. It’s not a secret I have very high expectations for myself first and if I can’t deliver I’m not happy, and in that regard my performance this season has been a bit up and down”.
Kimi: Let’s keep fighting, ‘great people’ in all the team
“I like this track, it’s a nice and challenging circuit. When the car has a good balance and things run smoothly it’s great, but if you struggle to find the right set up it’s not the easiest place. If I remember well it was not too bad last year, so hopefully this year we can be strong. Starting from tomorrow we’ll see how it feels and what we found. This place is full of good and bad memories, like Jules’ accident: it was a very sad day. We have to do our best not to make it happen again. There’s been a lot of difference between teams in many races so now it’s impossible to say where we are compared the others. At the moment in the team we have all the tools, we have great people, compared to last year this season we have been doing a better job with my team. We have all the support we need from Italy from all the people who work in the factory, but we lack a bit the overall speed. We have to improve, but it’s not simple and takes time. It’s a bit painful where we have been finishing lately but this is part of F1, we keep fighting. There are a lot of small details that have to be correct, everybody is pushing. The fans here are great, very passionate, they always give us great support. Hopefully we can give them a good result.”
Kimi explains why he likes Suzuka
Maranello, 4 October – Formula 1 now hurries off to the Suzuka circuit in Japan for the last of a trio of Asiatic races, following on from Singapore three weeks ago and Sepang last Sunday. The first Grands Prix held in the Land of the Rising Sun took place in 1976 and 1977 at the Fuji circuit, which made a brief two year return to the calendar in 2007 and 2008. All the others, since 1987, have been held at the Suzuka Circuit, originally built as a test track and equally famous for its amusement park. It is unique on the calendar in having a figure of eight layout. It boasts a variety of corner types, which makes it one of the most technical as well as being much loved by the drivers. As in Malaysia a few days ago, the Hard, Medium and Soft tyres will be used, although the weather forecast is for rain.
“I don’t know if it’s one of my favorite circuits, but it’s a good one” is Kimi Raikkonen’s view of the Japanese track. “It’s a challenging circuit where if your car is not handling as you want, it’s not a nice place where to be because it’s fast and very difficult to get everything running as you want. This is a nice circuit where to drive and where you can push because it’s fast. There are quite a few chances to overtake. It depends on how much fast you are, on what the guy in front of you does. But, there is always a chance. I like the food and have a lot of fans there and they are very passionate about F1. So, it’s an interesting place where to go.”