For a relatively new entry to the Formula One calendar, the US Grand Prix has bucked the trend and provided some pretty good racing over the last couple of seasons. However, last year was something of a washout, with qualifying delayed until just a few hours before the race itself! This year, all fingers are crossed that we can have a sensible weekend, as there's enough going on in the sport to be concentrating on without the weather intervening to that degree.
This week appears to have been all about Red Bull, as they got both their drivers in the garage doing a variety of weird and wonderful challenges in an attempt to find out just how fast their 1.92 second record pit stop was. I've chosen just a couple of the videos to give points to, but there are loads!
It's a massive week for rankings this week, as the Japanese Grand Prix weekend appears to have brought out the more relaxed side of our drivers. We've got videos galore, of bursting balloons, folding paper, and sitting face to face with the BBC's Tom Clarkson. There's also points for messing about with a cherry picker, and being the man in the terrifying mask.
The battle between Rosberg and Hamilton may be twisting and turning its way towards a conclusion, but as a team, Mercedes have already solved the problem of 2016. They have led the championship from the very beginning, winning 16 of the 17 races so far, and in Japan, they wrapped up the 2016 Constructors’ Championship, securing their third title in a row.
The result of the Japanese Grand Prix followed the tradition of many races this season – it all came down to the start. Nico Rosberg got off to a storming start from pole position, held back the Red Bulls who attempted a different strategy to try and sneak ahead, and took race victory with Verstappen almost five seconds behind him.
The McLaren team have been pinning their hopes on an improved Honda engine introduced last weekend in Malaysia, but have found Honda’s home track of Suzuka to be a circuit not matched to their car’s skills. In qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, Jenson Button missed out on Q2, settling in 17th place.
Lewis Hamilton is never far away from the headlines and this weekend in Japan, he's turned on the reporters who write about him so often. The situation kicked off when Hamilton was playing with his phone during the FIA-mandated Thursday press conference, sharing pictures and jokes on social media.
F1 Debrief makes a welcome and musical return to talk about all things lyrical. This week we're discussing the curious case of the missing McLarens, the prancing horse with no name and why some drivers are just phoning it in.
Nico Rosberg finished Friday practice ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, but the gap was reduced from two tenths of a second in the morning session to just seven hundredths in the afternoon. Behind them Ferrari and Red Bull jostled for position, with Ricciardo missing out in FP2 due to a virtual safety car halting his flying lap.
It's been a while but I've gathered together some light reading ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, in case you're missing the sport in the four days it has been since we saw anything. In this batch of the best of the web we've got some nostalgia, some forward looking items, plenty of talk about Malaysia and of course a glance ahead to this weekend's race in Suzuka.
The entire Red Bull team are in a pretty good mood heading into the Japanese weekend, after picking up a race victory and double podium finish in Malaysia. Christian Horner has been talking about the good feeling in the team, and even bigging up their prospects for the coming seasons, as he's said he would be able to manage his two competitive drivers if they were to go head to head for a championship trophy.
Less than a week after Daniel Ricciardo took a surprise victory in Malaysia, we're gearing up for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Suzuka set to play host to the latest round in the F1 2016 World Championship. The end of the season is drawing ever closer but we still have a lot of racing to squeeze in between now and then. Thankfully, Japan often offers up some great racing, although it's an event that has been mired by bad weather in the past.
It seems like the drivers have been particularly busy over the past seven days, getting up to all sorts of mischief as they start to wind up or down depending on their position in the championship. This week, there are points for doing battle with poultry, for explaining your track lap in miniature, and of course, getting some speed up in a fire engine.
Mercedes have jumped to the defense of their driver after the defending champion hit out at his squad following an engine failure during the Malaysian Grand Prix. The fire that erupted out the back of Hamilton’s engine cost him the lead of the race and a comfortable victory, and also allowed Rosberg to extend his championship lead to 23 points with five races to go.
Pérez’s future has been sealed for at least one more season with the Force India squad, as the Mexican concludes a deal for the 2017 calendar year. It will be his fourth season with the team, and Pérez says: “I’m very happy with this team and I have a good feeling for the future. I’ve seen the progress we’ve made over the last couple of years and I’m sure we have the potential to achieve even more.”
The race in Sepang had drama at either end, with a first lap incident knocking Sebastian Vettel out of the grand prix and dropping Nico Rosberg to the back of the field. Vettel made a reckless move on Verstappen which didn’t work out, ending his running and punting Rosberg towards the rear. The Mercedes driver started making his recovery, overtaking Kimi Räikkönen with a bash of wheels that the stewards deemed worthy of a ten second penalty.
Fernando Alonso made a brief appearance during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, heading out for a single flying lap during the first session and settling for the slowest time. The McLaren driver has a 45 place grid penalty due to engine component changes, so there was little point in aiming for pole position. Jenson Button, meanwhile, in the other McLaren, got into the top ten, and ended up ninth overall.
First practice in Sepang was dominated by a terrifying fire outside the Renault garage. Kevin Magnussen completed just two installation laps before his car burst into flames. He leapt out and allowed the mechanics to move in with fire extinguishers, but they couldn’t get the fire to stay out. The session was red flagged for twenty minutes until the blaze could be brought under control.
It feels odd to start thinking about the Malaysian Grand Prix at this late stage in the championship. Previously a mainstay in the early rounds of any given season, Sepang has taken up hosting duties in September/October this year, although expectations are still that weather will play a big part in the race weekend. The title battle is still raging between the two Mercedes drivers, and there's plenty to play for in the midfield, so this could be a fascinating weekend.
The FIA have revealed the 2017 Formula One calendar, which is very similar to this year’s offering, featuring 21 races across nine months. The action gets underway later than normal with Australia opening up the season on March 26, and Abu Dhabi closing proceedings on November 26. The summer break is still firmly in place with most of August free of racing.