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GP Week : Issue 32
Team-By-Team: Japanese Gra This one never really looked like being Ferrari’s weekend. Sure they were fast, but the team never really gave the impression that it was going to be the favourite to take the overall victory. Raikkonen failed to get above fourth in practice, but with Massa second in the early running the chance for his usual pole looked good. Qualifying turned into a comparative nightmare for the Brazilian, who A fairly slow start to the weekend for BMW saw neither driver seriously trouble the top runners, with both finishing the second session outside the top 10. While Kubica was enjoying the track, Heidfeld, with a new contract in his pocket, found his car to be sliding too much. On Saturday Heidfeld repaid the faith shown in him by the team by failing to get out of Q1, while Kubica was able to qualify Coming off the back of the most unexpected victory of the season, Renault was keeping its aspirations in check on arrival in Japan. Piquet quickly adapted to the circuit, but it was Alonso who shone, setting the second fastest time in the afternoon. At the track where Heikki Kovalainen had scored his first Renault podium one year before, the omens seemed good. A home race for Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima saw the local hero progress nicely over the practice sessions, beginning the weekend in 10th, and getting up as high as fifth by the end of final practice. Nico Rosberg on the other hand was getting progressively worse. He was 12th in first practice, 13th in second, 14th in third and 15th in qualifying. Nakajima could only improve one place As with most teams, Red Bull saw a weekend of contrasting fortunes in Japan. The squad was never really on it, but a P6 for Webber in second practice at least gave the team a level of confidence going into Saturday’s qualifying. Both drivers made it into Q2, but the incredibly tight nature of that session saw Webber line up 13th with Coulthard 11th. It wasn’t the greatest result, but there was 30 combined mistakes with tentativeness to line up fifth. Raikkonen proved the better of the duo and lined up second. The race was bitter sweet for the team as Raikkonen made the most of being edged off track at the start to finish third. Massa tagged Hamilton and Bourdais, and suffered a drive-through. Two points was rich reward for an afternoon littered with mistakes. sixth, 10 places above his team-mate. In the melee at the first corner, Kubica was gifted the lead and held off Alonso for the opening segment of the race. But the Spaniard was simply too strong on a lighter load in the second part of the race and pulled out a big lead. Kubica fought hard with Raikkonen over second, which the Pole duly took. Heidfeld went on a one- stopper and came home 10th. Come qualifying Piquet was unlucky to miss out on Q3, but Alonso powered through to fourth on the grid. An excellent result and one born of genuine pace. Nobody could have expected the race result. Piquet drove magnificently to fourth position, but the man of the day was Alonso, who drove a peerless race to take his second win in a row. It was a shock, but a deserved victory. on his team-mate and lined up 14th. A repeat of the Singapore podium was definitely not on the cards. Nakajima was caught up in the first corner mayhem and lost his front wing. The pit-stop to replace it cost him time and saw him end the race in 15th. Rosberg fell back at the start due to a technical issue but after that enjoyed himself, racing hard but finishing in only 11th. still hope for the race. Coulthard found himself squeezed at the first turn in the race, and the resultant damage to his suspension speared him off into the barriers at high speed. Webber had a great afternoon. As a one-stopper he had to try and contend with drivers on far fresher tyres, and looked to have just slipped out of the points. Bourdais’ penalty then got Webber up to eighth.