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GP Week : Issue 66
Team-By-Team: Japanese Gra After all of the hubbub surrounding Singapore, Flavio Briatore, Nelson Piquet, Pat Symonds and a certain decision in Paris, Renault simply got down to racing in Suzuka and it was almost business as usual. Even the Alonso to Ferrari news didn't uster them. They simply said they'd announce his replacement within a week. Nice! And so to work. For Grosjean, the lack of dry running on Friday held him back in qualifying and so he was destined to start from the last row of the grid. Alonso meanwhile was 12th, but got relegated to 16th for yellow flag infringements after Buemi's crash. In race trim Grosjean was a bit of a mobile chicane at the back and finished a lap down, while Alonso took 10th after a pretty aggressive drive. A tale of two halves for Toyota, for while one car had the luck, the other really didn't. Timo Glock arrived in Suzuka and promptly picked up a fever, handing Japanese reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi his rst run in an F1 session. Some cruelly asked if Glock had contracted Kobayashi fever ... which went down like a sack of spuds. Glock returned on Saturday only to be involved in a monster shunt in Q2 and end up in Yokkaichi hospital with a severely cut leg. He was out of the race and Kobayashi couldn't replace him according to the regs. As for Trulli, he was on it all weekend. He took second on the grid and despite losing it to Hamilton at the start drove a perfect race of 53 qualifying-style laps to take the advantage back and jump back up to second at the chequered flag. A timely reminder of his quality. The rain made Friday tough for everyone and running was left to the minimum ... except for Lewis Hamilton, who jumped at the chance to drive a track he'd always wanted to visit. In qualifying, Heikki was looking good until he stacked at Degner, but Hamilton flew to third. With a gearbox change Kovalainen would start the race in 11th, and had a stupid tangle with Sutil, which we are going to lay at the Finn's door. His move on Fisi, however, reminded us of Senna and Prost in 1990, although without the crash at the end. Epic. No points though. Hamilton ... what to say? Drove beautifully but was beaten into third by Trulli's incredible quali-style laps. Dodgy KERS didn't help -- that's twice in two races now. Odd isn't it? BMW has a torrid season, decides to pull out of F1, and suddenly the car improves. Kubica was loving being at Suzuka, even in the wet, but was hating it come qualifying when yellow flags, red flags and everything else that could slow him down did slow him down. He went out early doors, but incredibly rose to ninth with penalties applied. Heidfeld qualified a superb fourth and things were looking good. In the race itself Kubica was taken by Button in a great move early in the race and from then on was always there or thereabouts, and was unlucky to miss out on points. Heidfeld would have finished fifth, but Rosberg's sneaky finally pit-stop dropped the BMW man to sixth. A good weekend overall. The big news with Ferrari was, of course, the fact that Te onso was moving there in 2010, but in Suzuka the team had the small matter of a race to contend with. Friday was a write o with the rain, and in a car which is clearly not at all to his liking, Fisichella was always going to struggle in qualifying. He duly stacked up 16th fastest, but was promoted to 14th with penalties. Kimi would start fifth. In the race, Barrichello had a chance to pass Kimi but backed out of it and in the end the Finn very nearly had Hamilton for third in the final laps. Fourth place was a good result. As for Fisichella, well he didn't have the best of races and was beaten at the pit- exit in Luca Badoer style by Kovalainen. Not the first time the Italian's been mugged by a Finn at Turn 1. 30