Team Lotus Edge Closer to Glory in Japan
Japanese Grand Prix
The second Asian leg of the Formula 1 season continued at the world renowned Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
Practice saw little happen, although Liuzzi struggled, completing only ten laps. Water pressure problems in FP2 and engine problems in FP3 limited his testing.
Liuzzi’s bad weekend continued as his engine forced him to sit out of qualifying, however was given dispensation from the stewards to race, despite never really being within the 107% required in practice. Similar car problems for Nico Rosberg meant he would start in 23rd, allowing for the other five new team drivers to move up on position than normal.
Apart from that it was the traditional formation. Heikki Kovalainen from Jarno Trulli. Jerome D’Ambrosio surprisingly was quicker than Timo Glock, who all finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
It was a fine start by both Team Lotus drivers, as Kovalainen managed to get themselves ahead of the slow starting Rubens Barrichello, Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez, with Trulli behind the trio. The Williams cars got by the Finn easily, but it was another story for Perez, who was overtaken by Trulli on lap 5.
Rosberg made his way up the field easily, passing a struggling Jaime Alguersuari, and along with Perez, managed to overtake Trulli three laps later. Kovalainen was the next to be dispatched in easy fashion.
It was though a massive weekend to forget for Liuzzi, who made a mistake early on, making a trip through the gravel at the S-Curves.
There was a good battle between the two Virgins and Daniel Ricciardo as well. Ricciardo driving well and was at one point beating both cars on merit. The pitstops though allowed D’Ambrosio to move ahead of the Australian.
A weak Safety Car bunched the cars up again. Kovalainen was ahead of Maldonado, who easily dispatched him on the restart.
The rest of the race was a bit of a procession for the new teams, Glock eventually got past Ricciardo and his team mate. The race finished off with two of the cars having problems being lapped. World Champion Vettel was unhappy with D’Ambrosio, while Liuzzi nearly swiped the front wing off the race winner Button on the last lap.
All in all, Kovalainen recorded his third win in a row, in yet another 1-2 with Trulli. The Team Lotus cars finished on the lead lap, the first time it has happened, although arguably helped by the Safety Car period. Still, it is a big step forward for the team, and far better than what Virgin and Hispania have so far achieved. Glock finished in third ahead of D’Ambrosio and Ricciardo, while Liuzzi’s disastrous weekend finished one lap down on his team mate.
|1||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||18th||10|
|2||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||19th||6|
|3||Timo Glock||Marussia Virgin||20th||4|
|4||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Marussia Virgin||21th||3|
Heikki Kovalainen (18th – Team Lotus) : “The fact that this is the first time this season we didn’t see any blue flags is very satisfying. Every time you have to let someone pass you are artificially slowing up your own race, and it shows our car keeps improving, as does the whole team. Ok, the safety car helped us, but then you have to be in the right place to take advantage of whatever happens on track, and today we did just that.”
Daniel Ricciardo (22nd – Hispania) : “The race went quite well considering yesterday’s pace, we’ve got to be happy about being only a few tenths behind the Virgins. At one stage I was in front but the safety car didn’t help. It came out at times that didn’t suit us. But I’m happy with the performance and, personally, I’m pleased with the way I drove and I don’t think I could have done much more.”
Kovalainen’s three in a row has shot him up to an eleven point lead, a full race win ahead of the man who has led most of the way, Trulli. The battle for third is still tight, Glock only two points in front of his team mate.
|1||Heikki Kovalainen||Team Lotus||88|
|2||Jarno Trulli||Team Lotus||77|
|3||Timo Glock||Marussia Virgin||60|
|4||Jerome D’Ambrosio||Marussia Virgin||58|
|8||Karun Chandhok||Team Lotus||2|
Still quite predictable.
The first race in Korea last year was cruel for Virgin. Timo Glock was in a great position but a mistake by Sebastian Buemi saw the end of his race. The rain in the end allowed for Heikki Kovalainen to power through ahead of his team mate, and allowed for the team to become the Teams Champions, a team that could be replicated in Korea next weekend.
The on form driver is certainly Kovalainen, who has won three in a row. On the other hand, Liuzzi is struggling with a R-4-6 record in the last three.
Unsurprisingly, the Teams Championship can be wrapped up in South Korea next weekend. Virgin are 49 points behind with 64 to play. Now I may get this totally wrong here (likely), but should Team Lotus score a 1-2 in the next race, then they will become the Teams Champions for the second year in a row. Realistically, if Virgin don’t score two more points than Team Lotus next weekend, then it’s all over.
The Driver Championship is still up for grabs, but again, it’s looking likely which way that will be going, although it could depend on who Karun Chandhok replaces in India, if anyone.