Japanese GP: Thank Goodness for the Toro Rossos

Danill Kvyat’s horrific crash that ended Q3 early may have hidden the true form of the Mercedes relative to the Ferraris more than we anticipated.

Mercedes made an impressive, if perhaps slightly unwelcome, recovery to once again lock out the front row, and looked a million miles away from the cars that were two seconds off the pace this time last week.

There have been many times this year where I have watched the eye-waveringly early races live at 5/6am, but today (thanks to Dad’s birthday celebrations yesterday) I decided it was better not to. And I’m really glad I didn’t.

The fates of Perez, Ricciardo and Massa were sealed before the first corner after various contacts on the narrow circuit sent them all to the back of the grid to sing for their supper.

“I am getting passed down the straight like a GP2. This is embarrassing, very embarrassing.”

Fernando Alonso after being passed by Carlos Sainz on lap 6

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jnr were the only saving graces of the Suzuka track.

Verstappen’s superb overtake on Alonso elicited many cheers from the slightly subdued Mathieson family.

It’s a shame Sainz made a rookie mistake on his entry to the pitlane and damaged his front wing, losing the opportunity to fight for eighth place.

Lotus have had a horrible weekend off the track and are due in court tomorrow morning, so to see both the cars make it into the points would have been a welcome boost for the team.

Not the most exciting of races, but many revelations did occur off track. Here’s a round up of the most interesting moments of the weekend:

Dennis: Button and Alonso to stay

Ron Dennis appeared to end weeks of speculation and told Sky Sports that both his drivers will remain with the team in 2016. I personally trust Ron Dennis as far as I could throw him, given that we are still waiting for McLaren’s 2015 title sponsor.

Manor Marussia to have Mercedes engines in 2016

With Renault’s announcement of its Lotus buy-out due imminently, rumour has it Mercedes are now in talks with Manor to supply them with an engine, and more, in 2016. Word has it that they plan to use the team much like Red Bull does Toro Rosso as a way of furthering their driver development programme. It would be great to see some real investment in the Manor team and a chance for them to bring the fight to the struggling McLarens (sorry boys), and possibly move to the midfield. Which would then become the back of the field because the token back markers wouldn’t be there anymore. We haven’t thought this through…

Worst kept secret – Romain is going to Haas. As is Gutierrez. 

Haas are announcing their driver line up on Tuesday and barring any “HAHAHAA GOT YOU!” revelations, it looks like they have managed to poach Romain Grosjean and as part of their major deal with Ferrari have chosen Esteban Gutierrez over Jean-Eric Vergne. Romain’s name hasn’t been in the ring for long given that the speculation was Nico Hulkenberg would jump ship, but it is a huge opportunity for him, and well deserved. It is however slightly surprising that his current team are about to become 65% French, and they are losing the Frenchman. They have confirmed Maldanado for next year, beautifully summed up by German reporter, Tobias Grüner.

Max Verstappen is #amazeballs. 

Seriously, someone make a compilation of all his overtakes this season. Incredible.

Jet lag got the better of everyone

It may have seemed a smart move to make Singapore and Japan back-to-back races, but everyone seemed to struggle this weekend with jet lag. F1 stays on European time in Singapore due to the night race element, so any advantage gained by moving straight on to Japan is completely negated. Next year Malaysia follows Singapore a week later, so this issue isn’t going away any time soon. Malaysia is also concerned it will loose spectators due to the close proximity of the two races.

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