Five things we learnt from the Japanese Grand Prix weekend

14-10-2019 09:37
by Matt Gretton
F1 News
Five things we learnt from the Japanese Grand Prix weekend

The Japanese Grand Prix weekend was slightly different from the traditional Formula 1 set-up with the typhoon delaying qualifying until Sunday morning for just the fifth time in the sport's history. But still, it was another great race and these are the five things we learnt. 

Ferrari can still throw everything away

If you give Ferrari a 30-second head start, they'll still be able to mess things up. Despite being nowhere in practice, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc pulled it out of the bag in qualifying to give the Italians a one-two front-row lock-out. With the Japanese Grand Prix never won from the 2nd row, things were looking very good for Ferrari. 

But nope. They found a way to struggle again. Vettel moved before the lights went out, and this also distracted Leclerc. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton went around the outside and by that point, you might as well call it a Mercedes front-row lock-out. Going into the first sequence of corners, Leclerc picked up predictable oversteer and collided with Max Verstappen. His pit stop dropped him towards the back. 

Sebastian Vettel is driving really well at the moment 

Ok, we've just slated Ferrari for throwing things away but hear this one out. Ignoring that really poor start, Vettel drove a fantastic race. Looking specifically towards the end, he managed to keep Hamilton in his mirrors for almost 10 laps. The Vettel of a few months ago might have cracked under the pressure or tried to get too much out of the car and therefore spin. He didn't and that was really impressive to hold onto P2. 

Kubica is not happy, will he leave before the end of the season? 

Robert Kubica is once again unhappy with the decisions Williams are making. The Polish driver was forced to retire to save parts during the Russian Grand Prix which wasn't supported by Kubica. This time in Japan, they took off his new front-wing ahead of qualifying despite it feeling good. 

In the media, he has once again demonstrated he's frustrated with the decision: “This morning, however, gave me a lot to think about. I knew some things, but this morning some boundaries were probably crossed.” During practice two, Kubica actually finished ahead of George Russell.

Leclerc and Verstappen rivalry is bubbling nicely 

We had Prost and Senna, Schumacher and Hakkinen, Hamilton and Vettel and now we have Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Leclerc and Verstappen's relationship was renewed during the Japanese Grand Prix when Leclerc hit the Dutchman which later ended his race. This battle, at the top of the F1 world championship, is expected to last a good few years. 

Drivers and teams can manage a three-hour turn around between qualifying and the race

If there was any positive for Liberty Media and F1 as a result of the typhoon, it was that they had a chance to see how a Sunday morning qualifying would work. Looking from afar, and it seems to have been well managed and rather successful. At times, it was a bit more exciting knowing the drivers will be back out on track in a short period of time. 

Will something like this work post-2021? A reverse championship sprint-race on Saturday, and then a qualifying session and race on Sunday? Just an idea...

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