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GP Week : Issue 229
In essence, the Japanese Grand Prix was over by the time the field reach turn three. Out front Lewis Hamilton had moved into a lead, wrong-footing the only driver who could have posed a challenge to him, while the fortunes of Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez had also been written. A slow start saw Massa get swamped as the field accelerated to the first corner. Realising his predicament he moved to defend as best he could, catching Daniel Ricciardo and giving both cars punctures in the process. It was a racing incident, but one which destroyed their races as they fell to the back of the field on the opening lap - in Massa's case a lap down. "It took me a long time to get back to the pits," explained Massa. "From there it was the end of the race barring any miracle." "I saw the gap between Kimi and Felipe and I knew it was close, but I thought they would make a bit of room," added Ricciardo. "We'll call it a racing incident for now. "It's a shame for the team, I think we could have gained some positions off the line and then the race would have been completely different. But we had the puncture, and that damaged the floor so we lost some downforce. I tried to do what I could, we started to catch some cars towards the end but by then I didn't have the grip to do anything." Elsewhere, Perez came off worst when he tried to go around the outside into the first turn. With Nico Hulkenberg on the inside and Carlos Sainz sandwiched in between the two Force India's, there simply wasn't enough room. "I saw Massa going slowly in the centre of the track and had to avoid him, and that's when I got the hit," the Mexican recalled. "We tried to recover and I did all I could to get back into the points, but even our best was not enough." Further up the road the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg were squabbling over the race lead. With Hamilton on the inside, he edged Rosberg off the road at turn two, taking the racing line and gaining the advantage which would ultimately hand him victory. For Rosberg it meant his pole position was quickly transformed into fourth place, forcing him to fight his way back to second spot. "On the exit I had to go off the track to avoid a collision, which cost me speed and pushed me back to fourth place," said Rosberg. "After that, I was fighting for P2 today rather than the win. "Second place is damage limitation forme,asIhadtowinhereinJapanto close the gap to Lewis." 30 GPWEEK.com // 30 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> JAPAN PARTNERS: the race to the first corner