Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton a step closer to World Championship title 

Written by David on September 30th, 2007 at 9:52 amLast Update: February 16th, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Lewis Hamilton wins chaotic Japanese Grand PrixMcLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has secured the win at Fuji Speedway in a 2 hour wet race. The incredible rainy conditions proved a problem to Ferrari’s strategy while Fernando Alonso crashed his car; Hamilton moved out 10 points in the championship. Heikki Kovalainen is second while Raikkonen came in 3rd thanks to Ferrari relegating Massa with a pitstop.

In foggy weather and on an extremely wet track, the cars left the starting grid behind the safety car as Charlie Whiting deemed it irresponsible to release the cars. Several cars, including Felipe Massa went off the track even behind the Safety Car. After only 3 laps, both Ferrari came into the pitlane as they were surprisingly on regular wet tires compared to the full wets that the others cars were fitted with. Massa was consequently also penalised with a drive through penalty because of overtaking behind the safety car.

The procedure continued for 20 laps, enough for the Ferrari to pit again and fill the cars up with fuel to the end of the race. Both were then in the back of the pack and faced upon the hard task to move through the water spray towards both leading McLarens. What followed was simply a disaster for Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has been fighting up against close to about everyone in his team, the pressure from the scandal and dirt throwing by the nutoriously known British press. After both McLaren stops, Hamilton was 4th while Alonso was 8th, ending up just behind a pack of drivers including Nick Heidfeld and both Renault. Knowing that he has to push, attempts to overtake several drivers were succesful but mixed with excursions off the course.

Vettel at the time was leading easily, ahead of Mark Webber. The young rookie drove solidly in third place after he slipped through the first corner collisions that involved, amongst others, Button and local hero Takuma Sato. Button’s race was effectively ruined after a stunning 5th place in qualifying. He continued to run for 5 laps without a front wing but eventually came in, surprisingly without having lost positions in that 5 lap string. Alonso meanwhile eventually pushed too hard and violently went off the track, marking the first non finish for a McLaren this year. While his car was dengerously in the middle of the track surrounded by debris, the Champion stayed in the car for another 30 seconds and was visibly very dissappointed. It must have been a hard hit to take as the event made his championship changes so much more difficult. He had however not much choice to push, as 8th place would hardly make a difference to a DNF.

Again the safety car was deployed. After the leading Renault pitted, Hamilton was again in the lead not to give it away again. Behind him, Massa was called into the pitlane 7 laps from the end. Many believed this to be yet again doubtful Ferrari team tactics. Raikkonen therefore still had a chance to attempt a pass on his fellow Finn Kovalainen but failed in his attempts. Kovalainen therefore earns the first podium finish of the year for double championship team Renault who are already aiming to jump ahead again next year.

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