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Japanese Grand Prix

Formula 1 season 2014

Circuit information
CircuitSuzuka Circuit
TimezoneGMT +09:00
Race debut1987
Length5.807 km
Distance307.471 km
Line offset0.300 km

Some race weekends are always dominated by talk of the weather, and the Japanese Grand Prix started out no different. Typhoon Phanphone was nearby, putting pressure on organisers and the FIA over when best to run the race. It began as scheduled, but the safety car started and ended the race – initially because of the weather, but subsequently because of a horrific crash. It was a dark weekend for F1 overall.

Event overview

The news pre-race was that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Red Bull, so all eyes were on the team and his potential future outfit Ferrari, as we watched to see how they would deal with the announcements. Red Bull were also the focus of attention during qualifying. Mercedes dominated as usual, with Williams close behind. Red Bull appeared to be struggling for pace in all three sessions, and they ended up further back in the top ten on the grid.

The practice sessions saw several drivers crashing, including Vettel’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo on Friday, and Lewis Hamilton in final practice on Saturday. It didn’t hurt the Mercedes driver, however, he lined up second on the front row, alongside teammate Nico Rosberg who scooped pole position. Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Éric Vergne had to take ten place grid penalties due to using their sixth power unit of the season, so they were much further back.

The safety car started the race, leading the pack away without a formation lap. They completed two tours of the circuit before piling into the pit lane. The race was red flagged, and rather than have everyone lining up on the grid, the FIA opted to have the train of cars threading through the pit lane. A twenty minute wait followed, before the racing started again, once more behind the safety car.

Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari lost power while he was trailing behind the pace car, and he pulled over to the side of the track to become the first retirement of the day. When the action got going, Nico Rosberg held on to his lead for the first stint. Jenson Button dived into the pit lane to switch straight on to the intermediate tyres, hoping for some luck with the weather.

The track began to dry out and he moved up the order as others pitted. The Mercedes pair remained in front, however, and when it was dry enough for DRS to be enabled, Lewis Hamilton seized the opportunity to take the lead. The Red Bull drivers made short work of the Williams pair, with Vettel and Ricciardo making short work of Bottas and Massa. They also managed to get past Button, who had been running a strong if lonely race in third. Kimi Räikkönen had to sit through an eleven second pit stop, as a problem with the front right tyre change held him up. That dropped him out of the more competitive running.

On lap 43, Adrian Sutil spun off track and hit the tyre barrier. He climbed from the car okay, and the marshals moved in to recover the Sauber under double waved yellows. Jules Bianchi was approaching the accident scene and spun off in a similar manner to the German before him. Bianchi hit the tractor that was in the process of recovering Sutil’s car, and suffered a severe head injury. The safety and medical cars were deployed, with the race red flagged very quickly afterwards. Bianchi was taken to the nearest hospital by ambulance, and with his condition unknown and the darkness drawing in, Race Control confirmed they would not restart the race.

Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel took to the podium, but it was a muted ceremony, and there were few celebrations. Everyone’s thoughts were with Jules Bianchi.

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
03 OctFridayFree Practice 102:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +09:00
Free Practice 206:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +09:00
04 OctSaturdayFree Practice 303:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +09:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +09:00
05 OctSundayGrand Prix07:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +09:00

All content in the series Japan 2014