Saturday, October 11, 2008

Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix
Sunday 12 September 2008

Track: 4.56 km

Laps: 67

The Japanese Grand prix will take place tomorrow at the Fuji Speedway, where Lewis Hamilton holds the lap record from 2007. He drove a superb lap in qualifying to take pole position ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who is believed to be running a light fuel load. Whether this will give him the edge into the first corner remains to be seen but, with team mate Massa back in fifth place, Ferrari will be hoping that the Finn will be able to slow Hamilton enough to give Massa a chance to claw back some of the 7-point lead that Hamilton has in the Driver’s Championship.

Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) was third in qualifying and will no doubt be hoping to improve on his ‘rear-gunner’ skills to hold off fourth-placed Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Massa in the second Ferrari. Robert Kubika (Sauber BMW) in sixth is always a threat and the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock have improved greatly since mid-season. Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) is only one point behind Raikkonen but, starting 16th after failing to get into Q2 will make things a lot tougher for him.

The Fuji Speedway provides plenty of passing opportunities and, with just three races to go, some drivers may feel they have nothing to lose!

The forecast? Rain could be an issue but the outlook is for cloudy, windy conditions. The race starts half an hour earlier than usual at 13.30 and can be seen (in Catalan) on TV3. A repeat is usually shown on CH33 at 22.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
3 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
6 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Timo Glock (Toyota)
9 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
10 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)

Top six after 15 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 77
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 64
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 57
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51

Mike O’Neill

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