Friday, October 31, 2014


The United States Grand Prix is a motor race which has been run on and off since 1908, when it was known as the American Grand Prize. The race later became part of the Formula One World Championship. Over 43 editions, the race has been held at ten locations, most recently in 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The Circuit of the Americas, which runs anti clockwise, is a wonderful mixture of many of the most famous circuits on the F1 calendar; it has more corners at over 250 km/h than Spa and more below 100kph than Hungary, which is quite a combination! It has one very long straight with a hairpin at either end. There were a total of 55 overtaking moves during the 2012 race, but only 18 in the 2013 edition. Strategy wise, the race has been a one stopper for both the previous races, due to a conservative choice of medium and hard tyres by Pirelli. This year they have opted for soft and medium.

Circuit length : 5.516 kilometres.
Race distance : 56 laps (308.896 kilometres).
Corners : 20 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 315km/h (with DRS open) 305km/h without.
Full throttle : 58% of lap.
Brake wear : medium/hard.
Number of braking events : 10 (Four heavy). At Turn 12 the drivers incur 5.5g in braking forces.
Time needed for a Pit stop : 21/22 seconds.
Lap record : 1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2012)


The forecast for the weekend is for warm weather, with temperatures of 24 to 26 Centigrade.


Pirelli tyre choice for Austin: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings) This combination has been used six times already this season.

For the last two seasons, Pirelli has brought the medium and hard tyres to Austin and it has led to one-stop strategies. This year they have gone for the soft and medium tyres, but that is because the 2014 compounds are harder than last year’s. So we could have one or two stops as the preferred strategy, Pirelli thinks two. Tyre warm up has been a factor at this race track in the past as it can be very cool, in the mornings especially.


At the request of FIM, some of the asphalt run-off area around the outside of Turn 10 has been replaced by gravel, while a number of light panels will be mounted closer to the ground for improved visibility.

There are two DRS zones this weekend. The detection point of the first is 150 metres after Turn 10, with the activation point 320m after Turn 11, while the second zone’s detection point is 65m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80m after Turn 20, on the start/finish straight.


Typically with the harder compounds of the past in Austin one stop has been around 10 seconds faster than two stops. One stop has another advantage in that it offers track position in the final stint, so the two stopping car has to overtake it on fresher tyres in the closing stages. A typical one stop strategy is to start on soft tyres and pit around lap 20 for a new set of medium tyres.

Two stops would mean starting on the soft tyre, taking another set of softs around lap 15 and then a set of mediums around lap 37. Alternatively, two stints on the medium tyre if the wear on the soft was marginal and the medium had good pace.


There have been two races so far and one safety car so the probability is 50%.


The world championship is finely balanced as F1 makes its third visit to Austin, Texas, which proved a huge hit with teams, drivers and fans last season. The two Mercedes drivers have scored 565 points between them – enough to secure the constructor’s championship already – but there are only 17 points separating Lewis Hamilton from his team mate Nico Rosberg.

There will be only nine teams participating in the Grand Prix after Caterham and Marussia went into administration.

The news that Sebastian Vettel may skip qualifying completely because he has to replace a whole power unit will suck for fans. The way this has been going just shows how poorly thought out the rules were by the FIA.

I'm looking forward to another clean sweep by Lewis Hamilton as he has been very good at this track and the flowing nature of the circuit suits the Mercedes power unit just fine.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


What can i say about Sochi? In one word - boring. The cars were strecthed out by lap 7 and you know the rest of the race would be a procession.Except for the odd overtaking now and then, no real battles. And one set of tyres lasting almost the whole race? That didn't really help. Although it did help Mercedes seal the crown. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

Star of the Race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
That's four wins in a row now for Lewis Hamilton and as people keep saying, all the drivers who have ever won four races in a row have gone on to be World Champion. (Though they weren't saying this a lot when Lewis won four races in a row earlier in the year). After he'd claimed pole on Saturday, and then worked out where to brake at Turn 2 on the opening lap with a full fuel load - something his team-mate demonstrably failed to do, then he was away. Valtteri Bottas kept him in sight in the opening laps, and by Lap 10 the gap was only 2.7 seconds. Then Lewis put in his latest of a sequence of Fastest Laps and the gap went out to 3.3 seconds. By Lap 20 it was 9.3 seconds.

This wasn't Lewis at his 'team-mate-nailed-to-his-gunsites' best, this was Lewis in cruise mode at a holiday resort. Or, as Eddie Jordan elegantly described Sochi: "It's more of a holiday and time-off time kind of place."

At one stage it looked like Lewis was putting in one fast lap, then a steady lap, then another fast one. We got a new Fastest Lap on Laps 7, 9 and 11. In the closing stages he looked like he was drifting along preserving everything he could, turning the motor down, and just waiting for a much-predicted safety car that never came. He really did make winning look very easy. Just as Nico made recovering from last place to finish second look very easy.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 31: Nico Rosberg on Valtteri Bottas for P2 
Given how well the tyres were lasting, it was crucial that Nico Rosberg got past Valtteri Bottas before the Williams worked out the perfect strategy for defending P2. After Vettel pitted at the end of Lap 30, Bottas no longer had the benefit of the DRS tow from the Red Bull and on the start/finish straight. Rosberg immediately launched an attack, and dived up the inside at the last minute into Turn 2. It caught Bottas off guard because he was already angling across for the apex and had to cut the corner in favour of the escape route to make it through. After the race Bottas admitted that he was surprised by the Mercedes W05's sudden appearance, which only goes to show it was the perfect time. No skulking around today for Rosberg.

As for the race, Nico was incredibly fortunate to score the points he did. Had he badly flat-spotted the tyres at any other race venue and pitted for tyres on the opening lap, then he would have carried that one-extra-stop defecit through the race. To be told that he could pit on Lap 1 with almost full tanks and still aim to go to the finish on that set of tyres was incredible (as in not credible). And if Valtteri Bottas hadn't got a shift on for Lap 53 to claim the Fastest Lap, then Rosberg would have put in the Fastest Lap of the race with his 1:41.360 on Lap 52 on 51-lap-old tyres. Again, utterly incredible.


Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 3rd
Bottas so nearly split the Mercedes on the grid after his heroics in Saturday Qualifying. The split-screen lap comparison with Hamilton showed that he was already fractionally behind Lewis before he got to the last two corners, but it was a mighty effort nonetheless. In the race he kept Lewis honest for the opening laps, even putting in a Fastest Lap of his own on Lap 4.

Jenson Button behind was never going to be a threat, but thanks to the generosity of the first DRS zone, along with the graphene-covered Pirelli tyres, Rosberg was able to close up and pass all the cars in his path to take P2 from him.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 4thJenson was pleased to have kept the Ferraris and the Red Bulls at bay, but the podium just eluded him, thanks to Rosberg's remarkable recovery. Given that it's a long time since he finished so close to the front you would have thought that Jenson would have been more upbeat after the race, but he wasn't moany, just reflective and slightly regretful. Perhaps he's missing Jon Button more than we realise, as McLaren strenuously deny that any new driver plan is in place.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren 5th
Magnussen looked to have contributed to his own downfall on Saturday by straightlining the kerbs at Turn 2 and bouncing his gearbox into submission in final free practice. He made up for the five-place defecit with a scintillating opening lap, pulling off an audacious/foolhardy move up the inside into Turn 2. It's audacious if you get away with it and it's foolhardy if you lose your front wing. Watching the onboard footage with Eric Boullier afterwards you could see him wince at how close he came to being the lesser of the two.

He couldn't match Jenson Button's pace and finished 23 seconds shy of his team-mate. It would have been interesting if Fernando Alonso had come out in front of him after his pit-stop, to see if Kevin could do anything with the master tactician.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 6th
Not the greatest of days in the office, the F14T didn't have the straightline speed to overtake, or the strategy opportunities for Fernando to do something different to his main rivals. He kept Ricciardo at bay in the latter stages, which he's struggled to do in races past, but that's probably not going to make its way onto his racing c.v.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 7th
There was the tiniest hint of frustration of being held up by Sebastian Vettel, but the Red Bull just wasn't competitive at the Sochi Autodrum.

Russian Grand Prix
The circuit at Sochi is a real success. The drivers say that it's good to drive, it flows, and the frantic Q3 session showed that getting it absolutely right is not the easiest job in the world. We had an abundance of fans over the weekend including the visit of a prestigious waxwork towards the end of the race. Presumably no-one in the Kremlin had bothered to tell Vlad that the interesting bit is at the beginning. TV pictures showed him sitting in the grandstands talking at Bernie, and even with the new quieter hybrid engines Bernie was mouthing, "What?" So, congratulations to Mother Russia for their inaugural GP. Beetroot spritzers all round.


Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 14th
Kvyat paid the price for the glory of a stellar grid position, too much downforce which made him quick over a single lap, but led to problems in the race. Jean-Eric Vergne suffered too. P5 was his best ever gridlot, but he got mugged on the opening lap when it looked like all the Red Bull-sponsored cars were running in a pack and scrapping it out between themselves.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 11th
Felipe's strategy of starting on the medium tyres then changing them for softs after the opening lap didn't work out. Perez, who finished 10th just in front of him, also started on the medium tyres and brought his much-slower car home in the points. Given that the FW36 had the pace to set the fastest lap and that at one stage Massa was lapping faster than Rosberg just in front of him (admittedly on the softer compound) it was surprising that the Brazilain couldn't get more out of the race.

The BBC reported that Pirelli hadn't actually surveyed the track surface at Sochi before deciding the tyre allocation for the race. If that is the case, then it's a major mistake because we were left with one of those old school grands prix where nothing happens and drivers go faster as the fuel load goes down.

Media Watch
Eddie Jordan talking about Alex Lynn's chances of making it into the Toro Rosso team to replace Daniil 'Danny' Kvyat: "He's vying for that place with Carlos Sainz's son...another Carlos Sainz."

Suzi Perry "Did the tyre evolvement catch you out...?"

Talking about the post-race downbeat Jenson Button
Eddie Jordan nodding at David Coulthard: "He's very close to Jenson. They live together
David Coulthard: We don't live together.
Eddie Jordan:
They live near each other.

Talking to Eric Boullier about McLaren's recent upswing in form. Eddie Jordan: "Four races ago you weren't competitive. What has you done to your car...?"

Andrew Davieski

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Mercedes AMG Petronas fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Friday, October 10, 2014


The 2014 Russian Grand Prix (formally known as the 2014 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race that is due to take place on 12 October 2014. The race, which will be contested over fifty-three laps, will be held at the Sochi Autodrom, a brand new circuit built on the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in Krasnodar Krai, Russia.

The race will be the sixteenth round of the 2014 season, following on from the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka one week previously, and preceding the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. The race marks the first time that the Russian Grand Prix has been held in a century, and will also be the first time the Russian Grand Prix has been run as a round of the Formula One World Championship since the championship was formed in 1950.

Sochi is a new circuit, built around the Olympic Park from the Sochi Winter Games 2014. It is a street circuit in essence, like Singapore or Valencia in some ways although with faster sections and with a trademark horseshoe shaped left-hander at T3/4, which will stress out the right front tyres.
It is the third longest lap of the year after Spa and Silverstone, but with 18 corners and 12 braking zones, the Energy Recovery Systems will be functioning at their optimum, with no issues on recharging. This is a track which would have been high fuel consumption in the V8 era, but which the teams will easily be able to cover in 100 kilos or less with the hybrid turbos.

Track length : 5.853 kilometres.
Race distance : 53 laps (310.209 kilometres).
Corners : 18 corners in total. A new circuit around Olympic Park, with a street feel to it.
Aerodynamic setup : HIgh downforce.
Top speed : 320km/h. Average Speed 200km/h.
Full throttle : 56% of the lap time (average).
Time spent braking : 10% of lap (low).
Number of brake zones : 12.
Brake wear : Average. Not a tough race on brakes.
Total time needed for pit stop : 17.5 secs (plus stop time >3secs ) = 21 seconds (ave).


Sochi is fairly temperate and stable weather wise so it looks like the temperatures will be around 20 plus degrees on race day. Sunny skies during Friday’s practice session will bring temperatures of up to 22C, and more of the same on Saturday should see the mercury hit 24C. Sunday is likely to be as warm again, though cloud cover will begin to form ahead of the race start time.

However, like Austin, it is cold at night, so the track temperature will be low for FP1 and FP3. Another thing to watch out for will be the dropping temperature as the race goes on, due to the relatively late 3pm start time. Unlike at Suzuka, dimming light should not be a problem. Sunday’s race starts at 3pm local time with sunset expected at 6:43pm.Forecast is for sunny and warm weather conditions with the chance of rain low.


Pirelli tyre choice for Sochi: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This combination has been used five times this year already.

The track surface is only mildly abrasive, but it will still have the oils on the surface which is normal with fresh tarmac and which could make it slippery to start with. This will disappear after a Russian winter so next year the grip levels will be higher. The tyres are likely to slide on this surface and that will increase the stress on them. Meanwhile there are a lot of traction points (like Singapore) so we are likely to see rear tyre degradation due to longitudinal forces through the tyres on acceleration.


The Sochi Autodrom will have two DRS zones for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. The two zones will be on opposite sides of the 5.8 kilometre track and have their own detection points.

The first DRS zone will be on the run to the first braking zone, and the other will be on the next-longest flat-out stretch which curves right and left as it leads into turn 13.


The chance of a Safety Car at Sochi has yet to be established, but after the harrowing events at Suzuka with Jules Bianchi last week and the resulting spotlight on the role of the Safety Car in F1, plus a circuit lined with walls, which makes it hard for marshals to clear debris safely, it has to be presumed that the chances of a Safety Car this weekend are quite high.


Mercedes has won 12 of the 15 races so far this season, with Lewis Hamilton now on eight victories to Nico Rosberg’s four. The team will clinch the Constructors’ Championship for the first time since 1955, if they score well this weekend. They can afford to drop 17 points to Red Bull and still clinch the title on Sunday, with three rounds still to go.

The F1 teams will race under a cloud this weekend after the tragic events in Japan surrounding Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, who remains in hospital with a severe head injury. All drivers will be racing with that in mind and we may see more use of the safety car as it was only a week ago that the incident happened.

It is looking increasingly good for Lewis Hamilton to consolidate further his lead in the championship. He has been very good in the past when it comes to a completely new circuit as he can adapt very fast and very well. Looking forward to this race.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Daniel Ricciardo fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


An interesting race with the heavy weather. Lewis overtake and domination of Rosberg was the highlight for me. Although the Bianchi accident overshadowed everything after everybody realised how serious it was. I just saw a fan video of the crash and it is VERY serious. The car rammed the tractor straight on, no doubt about the seriousness of the head injury.

Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

It was a troubled end to a memorable Grand Prix weekend. With the arrival of the new guard and the changing of the old...

Star of the Race
Jenson Button, McLaren, 5th
If ever McLaren needed a stark reminder of the benefits of an experienced driver, then they had it from Jenson Button on Sunday. His audacious early move to Inters had all the hallmarks of the Hungarian GP fiasco, where the McLaren team got the weather prediction badly wrong and threw away a handful of points. Was it going to pay off? Yes. Because this time it was Jenson Button making the call, and as the most experienced driver on the grid, he got it right.

He tried his best to keep the Red Bulls at bay and resisted the irresistible Daniel Ricciardo for as long as he could, but in the end he had to give best. It was the perfect performance to highlight his skills to the Honda management present at the race, on a day when his rookie team-mate plumbed new depths.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 29: Lewis Hamilton on Nico Rosberg for P1
Lewis has had a few moments into Turn 1 this weekend, including his off in FP3 and a late-closing of the DRS that almost pitched him into a tank-slapper. So when he closed to within 0.4 of his team-mate, the incredibly risky high-speed Turn 1 didn't look like the best option to make a pass. That never really puts Lewis off though, and knowing that he had to make it a clean (non-Spa) kind of pass he had to wait for the right moment. That came on Lap 29 when Rosberg had a small wobble under acceleration out of the final chicane and Lewis closed up down the straight, sucking in behind his rival for maximum tow and minimum visibility, then hurling it down the outside and getting it turned in without running wide. As David Coulthard noted: "That is bravery off the scale. I stopped breathing for a second then. That is a pass that all the other drivers will admire."

As for his race it was another peerless demonstration of his superiority in the W05. Bernie once suggested (yeah, another one of those great Bernie suggestions) that we should have gold, silver and bronze medals to decide the drivers' title. If that was the case then Lewis would have one hand on the trophy, with eight wins to Nico's four wins and four races to go.


Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
Rosberg still hasn't beaten Hamilton in wheel-to-wheel racing this year, but hung on to take the best points he could. He already had the satisfaction of nailing another fine qualifying performance on Saturday to go 9:6 up in the qualifying battle.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 3rd
Having won four out of the last five Japanese GPs, this was really the track where Vettel needed to redress some of his defecit to Ricciardo. Which he just about did despite a worrying moment in the Esses when he went ploughing through the gravel and added six seconds to his lap time.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 4th
Yet more incredible race action from the soon-to-be Red Bull team leader. He picked off both Williams through the Esses, each time taking a generous helping of (on other circuits, lethal) kerb and not even having the decency to wag his back end while doing so.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, Williams, 6th and 7th
It was clear from the opening laps that Rob Smedley's confidence about the FW36 handling well in the wet was a little premature. In the race, Hamilton, Rosberg and Button opened up a massive gap to them before the Red Bulls could get past. They then set about creating an old school gap between themselves and 5th place - the kind of interval you remember from the 80s and 90s when so many of the cars didn't finish. The conditions may not have suited the car, but they made no slip-ups and helped consolidate P3 in the Constructors' Championship.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 9th
JEV used his experience to best effect in a race that saw his stellar team-mate look a lot less confident than we've seen of late. Anything to do with the lack of advice from the pitwall ...?

Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, 17th
It may not be the highest Marcus Ericsson has finished a race, but the Swede came home over a minute in front of home favourite Kamui Kobayashi, to put a small shimmer of gloss on what has been a difficult weekend for the team. And it's hard to believe he did all that after spinning the car at the start. No more the moniker Marcus the Milepost.


Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, DNF
Even though this is another technical failure for Alonso and Ferrari, the balance of DNFs over his five-year time at the Scuderia is still very small compared to other teams. It's rare to have a race weekend when there is a titanic battle in the driver's championship and for it to become almost a secondary story. In Suzuka we had the Verstappen debut, the Vettel announcement, the conformation from Christian Horner that the four-time World Champion was going to Ferrari, Fernando's polite avoidance of the subject and then the dreadful accident.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 12th
Given that Kimi is supposed to like his car now, and that the variable conditions should have given him the chance to shine, P12 was a huge disappointment for him and the team. The trouble started when he lost tyre temperature on his F14T and so the car wouldn't turn in as he liked. Throw into that a botched pit-stop and that was Ferrari's record-breaking run in the points ended.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 14th
This is the first high-speed race when Kevin Magnussen hasn't had the benefit of real-time driver coaching and it showed. He had to contend with electronic issues throughout, so maybe the serial spins and run-offs into Turn 1 were a result of the malfunctioning hybrid system and we shouldn't blame him too much for those. However, if he really was having problems into Turn 1, what was he doing trying to challenge Daniel Ricciardo into that corner when he was a lap down? Had Magnussen lost it in what was a risky move, and collided with the Red Bull, then he would have had all the censure that Romain Grosjean picked up in his year of living dangerously.

Eric Boullier must be having his strings pulled by Ron Dennis because he said afterwards the scarcely believable: "... he [Magnussen] pulled off some good moves, especially his overtake of Daniel [Ricciardo], he was never going to be in with a chance of scoring points here today."

So if that's the case why was he trying to nudge alongside Jenson Button into Spoon late in the race when Button was still in contention for a podium place? Sergio Perez may have been criticised for some of his performances in 2013, but none were as ill-judged as Magnussen at Suzuka.

Race Director: Charlie Whiting
On a day when he got a lot of really difficult calls right, it was the one call that he got wrong which everyone will remember. There were eyebrows raised when the FIA's race director left Adrian Sutil's stranded Sauber on track on the start/finish straight in the German Grand Prix and let it be recovered under waved yellows. And it was his decision not to throw out a Safety Car when Sutil crashed in Suzuka that ultimately created the situation where Bianchi hit the recovery vehicle.

Media Watch
It's hard to know why the three men in the BBC commentary box; David Coulthard, Ben Edwards and the very experienced F1 journalist Tony Dodgins, failed to work out why the F1 world feed TV director kept on showing photos of anxious Marussia mechanics and the Marussia pitwall. It wasn't until the race had been red-flagged and non-resumption confirmed that they finally realised what was going on with Jules Bianchi and why various senior personnel of Mercedes and Red Bull were briefing their drivers as they got out of the car.

Andrew Davies

Original article HERE.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.

Friday, October 3, 2014


The Japanese Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Traditionally one of the last, if not the last race of the season, the Japanese Grand Prix has been the venue for many title-deciding races, with 13 World Champions being crowned over the 27 World Championship Japanese Grands Prix that have been hosted.

The first two Japanese Grands Prix in 1976 and 1977 were held at the Fuji Speedway, before Japan was taken off the calendar. It returned in 1987 at Suzuka, which hosted the Grand Prix exclusively for 20 years and gained a reputation as one of the most challenging F1 circuits. In 2007 the Grand Prix moved back to the newly redesigned Fuji Speedway. After a second race at Fuji in 2008, the race returned to Suzuka in 2009.

The Japanese Grand Prix was supposed to continue alternating between Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit, owned by perennial rivals Toyota and Honda, respectively. There had been speculation that both tracks would host Grands Prix, with the readoption of the Pacific Grand Prix moniker used by the TI Circuit when it hosted Grands Prix in 1994 and 1995. The race made Japan one of only seven countries to host more than one Grand Prix in the same season (the others being Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and the USA). It was discontinued primarily due to its location in a remote area of Japan.


Track length : 5.807 kilometres.
Race distance : 53 laps (307.471 kilometres).
Corners : 18 corners in total. High speed, figure of 8 – a real drivers’ favourite.
Aerodynamic setup : HIgh downforce.
Top speed : 324km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.
Full throttle : 70% of the lap time (ave/high).
Time spent braking : 10% of lap (low)
Number of brake zones : 9.
Brake wear : Light. Not a tough race on brakes.
Total time needed for pit stop : 22 seconds (ave).
Lap record : 1:31.540 (Kimi Räikkönen, McLaren MP4-20, 2005)


Being coastal, Suzuka is always likely to get sudden rain showers, sometimes heavy. Strong winds can also be a factor sometimes. Temperatures can vary widely. It is important to bear in mind that if it is warm the tyre degradation will be more severe. There is a typhoon called Phanfone, on a pathway, which could take it close to Suzuka on Sunday or Monday. It looks quite a serious typhoon, so it is being monitored. Heavy rain will precede its arrival.


Pirelli tyre choice for Suzuka: Medium (white markings) and hard (orange markings). This combination was most recently used at Silverstone

As with the race at Silverstone, the main interest will revolve around whether some teams can race with two stints on the mediums and one on the hard tyres to take advantage of the better pace of the mediums. If they can make the mediums last, this will be a competitive strategy. Last year most runners stuck with the hards. At Silverstone Daniel Ricciardo managed to take a set of mediums to 37 laps.

The performance gap between the medium and hard tyres is likely to be around 0.8 seconds per lap in qualifying trim. But in the race at Silverstone there was little to choose between the tyres; this could well happen at Suzuka this weekend.


The FIA has retained a single DRS zone for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. As in previous years at the Suzuka circuit, the activation area runs along the majority of the start/finish straight, following a detection point shortly before the final Turn 16/17 chicane, also known as the Casio Triangle. Monaco is the only other round to have featured just one DRS zone this season, due to a lack of space.

The FIA has also confirmed a number of changes to the Suzuka circuit ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix. TecPro barriers have been added on the drivers' left-side after Turn 15, while a section of the track between Turn 15 and Turn 16 has been resurfaced. Finally, the tail lamp posts that were close to the debris fences around the outside of Turns 13 and 14 have been moved further back from the guardrail.


Last year with hard and medium tyres, simulations showed that two stops would be faster than three stops by around 5 seconds. Most people did two stops. A classic two stop is to pit for the first time around Lap 14 and then a second time around Lap 35. We may see drivers trying the undercut, trying to push rivals into running a longer final stint than they would ideally wish to do.

Thermal degradation will be the limiting factor, particularly on the front tyres and that will dictate strategy. Teams will react to degradation once it kicks in and make stops. We have seen a few times at Suzuka that a safety car can make a big difference for teams that are marginal on the tyres.


The chance of a Safety Car at Suzuka is quite high: 60% with 0.6 Safety Cars per race. As accidents at Suzuka tend to be at high speed there is often wreckage to be cleared away. There has been at least one Safety Car in five of the last seven races at Suzuka.


It’s a classic circuit with some famous corners, but there are many important tricks to doing well at Suzuka – race strategy is often the decisive factor, as it was clearly last season where Red Bull and Lotus fought for the win with split strategies for Red Bull carrying the day for Sebastian Vettel to take his fourth Suzuka win in five seasons.

One crucial element will be avoiding Typhoon Phanfone, which is on a possible trajectory towards Suzuka around Sunday or Monday. It is being closely monitored, but organisers will be thinking of contingency planning to get the race away without disruption.

And our tight championship battle is leveled again for now with Hamilton leading by 3 points to Rosberg. Although it is possible for Mercedes to seal the constructors championship this weekend, I don't see it happening as Rosberg is due another DNF. Maybe another race.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.