Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Friday in Fuji

 As I write this on Friday evening in the dark at Fuji, it is starting to rain. Only lightly, but enough to remind you that the weather here can be very unpredictable and that rain is never very far away.

 This morning the sky was blue and the view of Mount Fuji was spectacular. The two practice sessions took place in perfect conditions, but the locals are talking about rain tomorrow and a dry race on Sunday.

 McLaren and Ferrari look pretty well matched again. I was interested in Ferrari’s performance advantage in Singapore over McLaren as it looked like they had taken a big step and if that proved to be the case this might carry them through to the end of the season.

 But in fact I think Lewis wasn’t really at his best in Singapore and that masks the true performance picture. We will see this weekend. There is no doubt that after a run of races through the summer where the McLaren was the fastest car in qualifying, it now seems that the Ferrari is slightly stronger and Massa is really in the zone on the single lap qualifying run.

 McLaren as a team are working very well, much better than last year and there is a calmness about them. Ferrari have had that for ages, but it seemed to slip a bit in Singapore when they had that pit stop cock-up and I would not be surprised if they were a little edgy here as a result. They have been so successful for so long and their processes are so good that the confidence will surely return quickly.

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Off To Fuji

I’m off to Fuji tomorrow, full of anticipation. This has been a wonderful championship, where most of the races have been great and a minority dull. Last year’s Fuji race was very dramatic and had a big influence on the outcome of the championship, as Alonso lost the chance of points with an uncharacteristic crash. A couple of points that day would have made him champion at the end of the season. It just shows you that a split second error at this stage of the season is potentially disastrous, as Ferrari found in Singapore.

This year Lewis Hamilton again has the advantage going into these final races; seven points. But the McLaren team is also working far more effectively than it was at this stage last year and he is benefitting from that. The McLaren, as we have seen, is also a better car in the rain than the Ferrari and that could prove an important factor at Fuji. Against that Felipe Massa is driving with a lot of confidence at the moment and the Ferrari was half  a second quicker than the McLaren in Singapore, indicating that they’ve made some impressive steps in development. Massa was stronger than Hamilton in Singapore and was unlucky to lose another ten points (to add to those lost in Hungary) with the pit lane disaster. Massa has benefitted from the controversial penalties Hamilton has been handed this year, but there is no doubt that his bad luck has had a greater effect on the outcome. If he loses the title he will point to those two races as the cause and he’ll have plenty of justification for that.

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