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Featured Japanese GP Debrief: Rosberg Waltzes as Hamilton Falters

Discussion in 'Formula 1 Race Comments' started by Ben Stevens, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    M44390.jpg A narrow advantage on Saturday turned into a comfortable lead on Sunday as Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead at Suzuka

    There’s no denying Nico Rosberg was bailed out in Malaysia, but the German certainly needed no such assistance on Sunday.

    Narrowly edging their qualifying battle on Saturday, the race proved to be an entirely different story for Rosberg, as the German was unstoppable on the way to his ninth victory of the season.

    Holding his lead into turn 1 as teammate Lewis Hamilton went backwards, Rosberg proceeded to put in a measured drive to the chequered flag, as the action unfolded all around him. Behind the German Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Sergio Perez were a surprise 2-3, although Perez was quickly dealt with by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel as the race looked like giving fans the first three-team podium since Germany. However, Hamilton was able to eventually undercut Vettel for third and salvage some meaningful points, albeit not enough as the driver’s championship continues to slip through his hands.

    His fourth win in five races, Suzuka was a return to regularly-scheduled-programming for Rosberg, as his lead in the driver’s championship extended to 33 points. Read on for a look at all the big talking points from the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix.

    M44307.jpg Rosberg Untouchable as Hamilton’s Start Woes Continue

    If Saturday’s 0.13s margin over teammate Lewis Hamilton suggested their ongoing duel was on a knife’s-edge, it didn’t take long to tip decisively in Rosberg’s favour on Sunday.

    For what felt like the umpteenth-time this season, the battle between the Mercedes drivers was over as quickly as it started, as contrasting fortunes off the start line had Rosberg cruising, and Hamilton playing catch-up. Where the German was able to get away cleanly, Hamilton found himself bogged down with excessive wheelspin, falling all the way to sixth before starting his recovery, and while he certainly had the disadvantage of starting on the damp side of the track, even he knew he’d buggered it up, leading to a meek apology on team radio.

    To put it simply, Rosberg was cruising after the start, with the most difficult part of his afternoon being the awkwardness between himself and Hamilton in the post-race cool-down room, as the Brit continues to struggle for answers. It might get lost amidst all his issues with reliability, but starts have really proven to be the undoing of Hamilton this season, as 17 races in, his inability to overcome this weakness continues to cost him. On the inverse, it’s interesting to see that Rosberg, the driver who was thought to perhaps benefit more from the “outside help” drivers received before the new start and (now removed) radio rules were introduced this season has had less trouble adapting, at least as far as starts are concerned.

    With a 33-point lead and just four races remaining, the question for Lewis Hamilton isn’t “can he win the world championship?” as much as it is simply “can he beat Rosberg?” Right now Malaysia looks like an aberration, with Rosberg the one holding the small, but fairly consistent advantage. It’s a weird position to find Hamilton in, and championship or not, it’ll be fascinating to see how he responds.

    P-20161009-01012_News.jpg Verstappen Bounces Back from Malaysia Disappointment

    Whether fair or foul, there’s no doubt that watching Max Verstappen defend is always exiting.

    Having already blurred the lines on such etiquette already this season, Sunday the 19-year-old got it absolutely spot on in his battle with Lewis Hamilton. Just ahead of Hamilton into the chicane on lap 52, Verstappen was able to fend-off an attempt down the inside with his own perfectly-timed jink rightwards. A few fractions-of-a-second later and it could’ve ended both their races, but Hamilton had enough time to react and try again round the outside, his out-breaking in doing so handing Verstappen a very deserving P2.

    In the heat-of-the-moment it was understandable that Hamilton complained on team radio, but it was heartening to see him come round post-race, while Mercedes eventually dropped their protest. It was the exact sort of driving that has made Hamilton a verifiable superstar in the sport, and Verstappen is only following in his footsteps.

    An impressive moment in an impressive result, Verstappen continues to up his game even after the frustrating finishing in Malaysia. Two races are far from a trend, but he’s the faster of the two Red Bull drivers at the moment, and clearly doesn’t lack for confidence. The Dutchman has now moved above Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship, an incredible accomplishment given he started the season driving in Red Bull’s B-team. He may not have got the winner’s trophy on Sunday, but he’s got every reason to feel like one.

    160074_jap.jpg Strategy Call Costs Ferrari

    With some subtle digs off-track, while digging their own holes on it, it’s safe to say it has not been the best of weeks for team harmony at Ferrari.

    Fresh off the back of some less than glowing remarks team boss Maurizio Arrivabene made on Friday, where he suggested he’d have to “earn his seat” going forward, the Scuderia’s Sebastian Vettel looked set for a slump-busting podium on Sunday, until a questionable call from the pit wall saw him finish in a distant fourth place.

    Starting the race sixth after his three-place grid penalty from Malaysia, the four-time world champion had been one of the prime beneficiaries of Hamilton’s slow start, having gained two places by the end of the first lap. By lap 3, he was third, and maintained strong pace into his second stint, where Hamilton started to come back at him. On lap 31, Vettel was six seconds ahead of Hamilton, a gap that was under four by the time the latter pitted for hards on lap 34. With Vettel coming in for softs a lap later, Hamilton was able to make the undercut work, and only had to defend for a handful of laps as the German’s tyres inevitably faded.

    Unsurprisingly, this has done nothing to take away from all the negativity currently surrounding Ferrari, and with good reason. In pitting Vettel as late as they did, Ferrari were content to be reactive, when they should’ve been proactive in keeping a faster car behind them, while also opening up the possibility of coming back with an attack of their own on Max Verstappen. Instead they let Hamilton bring himself into undercut territory, and he made them pay decisively. The decision to fit softs – although not entirely without merit in theory – only compounded that mistake, as while Vettel was able to start setting fastest laps, he quickly lost performance sitting behind Hamilton, while Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen had shown very strong pace on the hards, having fitted his own on lap 27, and they were guaranteed to last the remaining 18 laps.

    The Scuderia’s $50 million man, Vettel had only scored one podium in the eight races prior to Suzuka, while being outscored by Raikkonen over the same period 79 to 57. Whether Arrivabene’s pre-race comments were warranted or not, Sunday Vettel had given himself a chance for a significant morale boost, only to have it taken away by his own pit wall. Post-race Vettel seemed unperturbed by the choice of tyre, but the same surely can’t be said for the strategy as a whole. And while it’s not the first time strategy has notably impacted a Ferrari this season, given the significant tension currently within their ranks, they really could’ve done without it on Sunday.

    Can Hamilton regain an advantage in the last four races? Is Verstappen the hotter of the Red Bull drivers? Has Ferrari’s morale been further damaged by their strategy? Sound off in the comments below.
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  2. Ferrari made two ****ing bad calls. I've lost all respect for them this season. Shame as they are the reason I became and F1 fan and why I fell in love with the sport

    Max's needs to learn to ****ing defend properly. Instead of moving around under braking trying to chop people off all the time, why couldn't be simply cover the inside before the corner. He would have defended the position and its far less risky to him and they drivers

    Rosberg will be a worthy champion if he wins the championship. Beat Hamilton fairly once again on Sunday and has dealt with the pressure brilliantly. He's a world class driver. Hamilton I can't see winning it from here
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  3. Max needs to nothing, he is the best driver in F1, after many boring years.
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  4. Because when you do this you force the attacker to react in a way that likely leads to him having a bad exit from the next corner. Often it means backing him up with late braking or taking a bad line or weaving around to avoid the contact and therefore having a bad run instead of a good one.

    Its sleazy but its also F1 approved because apparently stewards will never enforce consistent clean and fair racing ever and the best we can hope for is bad etiquette leading to clean racing as a result of smart evasion by the attacker as was seen. The sad reality is that the "one move" rule seems to be in contrast to most other series that enforce instead the "no moves in reaction to" rule and I think the latter is a much cleaner and fair form of racing, but F1 seems to not care about that, nor do most of the fans. Bullies have always been celebrated in F1 history, why should that change?
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  5. Max is the current sensation. Bernie and the FIA wouldn't want to mess with it. Like with Vettel sometimes and especially Schumi.
  6. Queequeg

    Premium Member

    I am also baffled by Ferrari's extremely bad pit strategy this season. This is nothing short of embarrassing. IIRC they have given away three pretty secure podium positions with their bad calls so far.

    He's very very good, but sooner or later he will find a Ferrari or even his teammate stuffed up his exhaust if he keeps defending like that. Of course the strong defense he gains from this might be worth the risk and as @P*Funk pointed out, he's in the right in terms of rules.
  7. Glaurung

    Premium Member

    Verstappen is a loose cannon.
    Now for the first time, after so many dirty races, Whiting and Pirro, though the pressure they have from the "circus" to not interfere in order to preserve the "show", have admitted the intrinsic danger of the foolish manouvres of Helmut Marko's protected.
    Kimi's radio speaks itself:

    and may easily cause dangerous incidents like the one between Massa and Perez in Canada 2014 (when Perez was sanctioned in the next race).
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
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  8. yeah, their strategy has been truly incredible. changes shouldve been made after the first few races; that its still ongoing is ludicrous.

    for all their issues & disappointments this season, this is by far the most embarrassing as it's not only glaringly clear but could be remedied in a week at no cost.

    there's a difference between max's move here & at spa & that difference 300km/h. taking advantage of the rules is what it is, but spa was truly dangerous & he deserved to be chided &, hopefully, learned from it.

    as for this, he'll do what he'll do & if the other drivers feel he's in the wrong it'll soon cost him a race. i thought he had no chance as hamilton closed the gap & then he made it look so easy until hamilton finally set it up to do it right & take him at casio. otherwise looked exactly like his defense against kimi @ spain, with hamilton just not having the traction on & prior to the exit to make the drs meaningful. he was reaching over 210mph w/ no chance at T1 -- anyone explain to me why the overtaking was so easy there early on but impossible later? softer compounds had enough grip to overcome the dirty air? broadcast kept talking about battery as if hamilton didnt have one of those too...
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  9. As long as only one driver "defends" like this, it's a "sensation" after "boring years".
    Now if everyone would defend like this, we would not see any overtakings more what so ever. Then F1 would become really boring

    In my opinion they have to find the right balance about what is allowed while defending, and while attacking. When the defender gets all the rights, while the attacker has to stick to 100 rules not to get a penalty, then there is no balance. If defending like this is allowed (well it is), then you should also have more rights in attacking. Like "right to the (inside) line" as soon as you have 1cm of your car alongside the front car, and other things.
    Otherwise the overtakings will become less and less which will eventually make the races very boring.
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  10. First ones fine... that second one was no good... at all .
  11. No, the first one is BS. Verstappen is good enough to know he's going in too deep and will basically nose into Kimi's line pushing him off. Its a dive bomb and if these were GT cars it would be one where he'd slam into Kimi and use him as a physical brake to take the position. As open wheelers Kimi simply evades to stay alive. Thanks of course to F1's ample use of paved run off you end up with a situation where a guy like Verstappen can run people off the road and the victim gets to simply take a detour and because they've technically broken a rule be made to give it up. Call that overtaking/defending by rules lawyering. Its really snakey behavior. Its not fair play at all.

    If there were no run off and it was only grass I figure Verstappen would have been given an ear full from everyone and given a penalty for ending Kimi's race given what grass does to carbon fiber and what a car would do at those speeds. Thanks to run off however modern drivers can drive like lunatic pricks and other people's natural sense of self preservation will give way to the lunatic who will, in F1's case, almost never penalize him.

    Then what you get is silly fans proclaiming a new day and that the new mad little sociopath on the grid is the second coming of Senna (another guy who drove like a prick at times) because apparently watching a bully run rough shod over people who follow the rules of good racing (or ethics at least if they're not outright rules, though they're rules in other series for sure) is heroic. Its sad too because these guys are always greatly talented but because they're the new sensation they get away with murder too. Schumi drove like a prick, Prost drove like a prick, Senna drove like a prick, lots of guys do and they didn't need to but they got away with it because F1 has a serious issue with enforcing decent racing standards and always plays favourites.

    Its disappointing and why I frankly prefer lower forms of racing because at least in other series rules are enforced or written sensibly. Ironic really since F1 is the most dangerous motorsport and they let people do mad things at high speed that are completely unnecessary and we call it entertainment, yet we're all supposed to be sick to our stomachs at the prospect of safety not being perfect. I tell you Verstappen doing idiotic stuff on the Kemmel straight is far more dangerous than any of the existing things they're trying to do with safety right now. Its not entertaining either if you understand racing from a driver's perspective, unless you're one of those jerks that's always blocking people in online racing.

    I have a lot more respect for a Trulli train than any of this dumb crap that Verstappen does. Trulli turned defending into an art compared to this kid.
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  12. First one was fine (it should be acceptable and drivers on the look out for it; thats racing - Max was right up the inside on a favorable corner)... but i hear ya.

    M.Schumacher was one of the worst ever...
  13. Max couldn't keep the car on the track on the first, completely overshooting and forcing Kimi out. Not as bad as Nico with Lewis in Austria but it's of similar pattern.
  14. ooh ooh... goodone. 50/50 on that one... but really all i see is B Pillar and a mad pass + attitude...

    Like the first one from the clip involving Max an Kimi - B pillar and a hole is all I see... in there...

    Make them think twice (the more the merry) next time...
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  15. kedy89

    Premium Member

    A 10 year old could make better strategy calls than Ferrari at the moment, it's embarrasing.
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  16. I'm sorry, but last time I checked, Ricciardo has completely outperformed Max this season
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  17. What Massa did in Canada 2014 is what you call a dive bomb. A fool is anyone who blames Perez for blocking in that crash.

    Sanctioned... great word to use. Is that official?

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  18. Wrong. Ricciardo 1 full season, Max a 0.5 season. And his ago? He the better driver Iám sure, and You are not Dutch, some people can't stand it that just a kid is doing so well.
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  19. Queequeg

    Premium Member

    Of course we can't judge his talent because we aren't Dutch. Our bad.
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  20. Ricciardo has outscored Verstappen since they've been teammates. He's also beaten Max in the race and qualifying more than Max has beaten him.

    Also, as I'm not Dutch, I can make better judgement using statistics instead of blindly supporting your countryman with no evidence
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