There are just four races left of the 2017 season, and whilst the championship is likely to be decided before we get to the end, there's still plenty to keep an eye on. This weekend, Formula One is being hosted by the Circuit of the Americas, a still relatively new but impressive facility. It's a popular track, which is even more impressive considering the results and reviews of other newer circuits, and should provide a great weekend of racing.
As Sebastian Vettel’s championship hopes ground to a halt, some spectacular drives made the Japanese GP worth getting up for. Some made silly errors or saw their hopes ended by punctures, but points were available for those who strung together the Suzuka twists and turns perfectly.
At this point in the rankings season, I'd usually be saying the competition is wide open and it's all to play for. Granted, there are still a good few weeks left but, just like the actual Formula One championship, things are very much headed in the direction of one particular driver. Every single day, Daniel Ricciardo is doing new and brilliant things to engage with fans and generally just bring the fun. Amazing.
Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix but it wasn't an easy victory for the Mercedes driver, as he was chased to the line by Max Verstappen, with Daniel Ricciardo making it a double podium finish for Red Bull. Verstappen crossed the line just one second behind the race winner after a close battle to the finish, but Hamilton would have been happy it was a Red Bull following him and not a Ferrari.
The recent reshuffles at Toro Rosso aren't over this season, with news at Renault having an impact on the team after this weekend's race in Japan. Jolyon Palmer announced after qualifying that Japan would be his last race with Renault, and that being the case, the team have snapped up Carlos Sainz for the rest of the season. And, for Daniil Kvyat, that means a chance to step back into a race seat, after being cast aside in favour of Pierre Gasly last weekend.
All of the sessions in Suzuka so far this weekend have featured a crash, and qualifying was no different. Romain Grosjean was the unlucky culprit, crashing his Haas into the barriers hard, and ending Q1 a minute early. The session wasn't restarted and there was plenty of damage to the Frenchman's car.
The anticipated rain hit both free practice sessions in Suzuka, but FP1 got underway on time. About halfway through the session, however, Carlos Sainz crashed heavily in his Toro Rosso, ending with the car sprawling across the track and bringing out the red flags. The action got going again with twenty minutes to go, but halfway through that the rain started to fall and the times saw no improvement – Vettel was the fastest.
Back to back racing always means there isn't a lot of time to digest what has happened in a race, and after the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend, there's a lot to think about. The topic on everyone's minds at this point in the season is the championship - we're getting to crunch time and the mathematically possibilities are dwindling fast.
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