It’s time for the Japanese Grand Prix! The F1 circus has now moved on to the 15th race of the season and the competition is getting hotter. Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber will be going all out for victory at this iconic track and any one of them can be the victor here.
The Suzuka International Circuit is one of the oldest and one of the most tricky circuits to drive. Drivers who push too hard here are often penalised because of the small run off areas. Yet push they must, lap after lap for this circuit is not one can slack off on. The right setup is crucial here as corners like the S curves (Senna S), the Degner, the Spoon all require pitch perfect perfection in execution. The Degner especially is one of the toughest corners in F1. A blind right corner which has just one racing line, a wrong move here, and you’re in the wall. The same story goes for the Spoon corner. In fact as I write this, two practice sessions have already been done and dusted with and Paul Di resta and Michael Schumacher crashed at the Spoon corner in a very similar fashion.
So a tough track, yet one that drivers always cherish. The Japanese Grand Prix was for many years the last race of the calendar and many title battles have gone down the wire here. The battles between Senna and Prost usually come to mind as they raced each other around the twisty bends of this magnificent course. The fans in Japan have thus come to love and cherish F1 unlike any other sports fans in the world! Ask any driver on the grid, the Japanese fans are definitely the most passionate of them all!
This has been one of the most open and the most fiercely fought seasons thus far and even though the Japanese Grand Prix is not going decide the Champion, it is definitely going to decide who stays in the race for the title. Alonso is in the clear lead over Vettel with 29 points. However Raikonnen, Hamilton and Webber are 45, 52 and 62 points away from Alonso respectively. In order for any of these drivers to keep their championship hopes alive, they need to win this race and/or finish above Alonso in the race at least. Then again it’s Alonso they are competing against and so far this season he has been impeccable, faultless, absolutely on the money every time! Alonso has made the best of bad situations this year and has dragged the very poor Ferrari to a championship winning position. It has been the performance of a lifetime for Alonso and he deserves all the praise he can get.
However even though Alonso leads the championship it is not all good news for Ferrari. Massa has struggled all season with a half decent car which is nigh on undrivable (unless you’re Alonso) and to top it all their upgrades are not giving as much benefit as they expected. The former has been somewhat solved lately as with his career in F1 on the line, Massa has shown some improved performances. The latter though is a big problem for Ferrari as it turns out that their wind tunnel was off and that all this time Ferrari had been analysing parts in a faulty wind tunnel. Luca Di Montezemelo has come out with this news while at the same time laying out a plan to correct the faults in the wind tunnel as soon as possible.
The Japanese Grand Prix has another very exciting prospect to it this time! Driver Market speculation! For many years the driver market has been rather stale, no major driver changes in the last few years. So when Hamilton decided to move to Mercedes and Schumacher decided to move out and retire, it opened the market for the drivers in the middle and lower teams. The likes of Paul Di resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Heikki Kovaleinen are all hoping to move to a better team for next season. Sergio Perez has already been snagged by McLaren and the only Top Tier team for which a move is possible now is Ferrari since they still haven’t confirmed their 2013 lineup. Alonso wants Massa to stay ( because Massa is a subservient No.2) while Luca probably wants to get a new driver for a year before snagging Sebastien Vettel away from Red Bull in 2014. It’s all very complicated, but the driver market needed just one big name to move house and the whole field hs gone into a tizzy! Nico Hulkenberg has been linked to a race seat at Ferrari while Heikki Kovaleinen and a few others are being linked to the now vacant-for-next-year Sauber seat. It’s all really exciting and I find myself reading every possible rumor online. This Japanese Grand Prix is certainly offering lots of goods as far as entertainment value goes. And the race hasn’t even begun yet!