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Japanese Grand Prix - 30th September 2007

Well, I guess we can't say that the Japanese Grand Prix was just another ordinary race! The mist and rain of the mountains around the Fuji Speedway certainly put paid to that.....

Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix

The safety car lead the first 19 laps, suggesting that the only interest in the race would be the tactics behind refuelling, but when released, a race that will stay in the memory for some time took place....

Race winner, Lewis Hamilton, taking a giant leap towards that world championship described it as “a very eventful race and I am so happy to have won here at Fuji. There were moments when I thought it would have been better to stop the race; however, when the rain faded a little, conditions improved a bit. I didn’t feel too much pressure and think I would have been able to push a bit harder if necessary. I was lucky that nothing serious happened to my car when Robert Kubica hit me. I didn’t see him come so the impact caught me by surprise, and I spun. Afterwards I stayed concentrated and focused on keeping the car on the track. I want to say thank you to everybody in the team who have done a great job throughout the weekend. This was an important victory for the championship, but I do not want to think too much about it and will focus hard on the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, having crashed out of the race said it was, “a difficult race in difficult conditions. After my pit stop I came out into traffic and was fighting for positions in the field. It was very difficult to see anything because of the spray especially when you were coming down the straight. As a result I did not see Vettel in my mirrors and was surprised when he hit me. I think the car was damaged quite a bit by that, but I was able to continue. However when I was braking for Turn Five I just aquaplaned and spun. Unfortunately the walls at that corner are very close to the track, so I hit the barrier heavily, and that was it. Of course, it is a difficult situation for me now in the championship; however, I will keep fighting until the end – as last year’s Championship battle showed anything can happen.”

McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis, having spent most of the race on the edge of his seat said that, “The weather conditions here at Fuji created their own challenges for all the teams throughout the weekend but by staying focused we made sure that both Lewis and Fernando had a chance for victory today. However, unfortunately for Fernando he aquaplaned off the circuit after driving a controlled race in very tricky conditions – particularly after his car was damaged due to a collision with Kubica. Lewis’s performance was masterful, and he was in control throughout. The team is now going to focus on the last two races where both Lewis and Fernando have a chance of claiming the title. We will make sure that they both have the opportunity to do so and look forward to an exciting end to the Championship.”

 




 

Belgian Grand Prix - 16th September 2007

Great to return to Spa after a gap of a year, and it remains one of the most exciting of European circuits, but the Belgian GP was not to be a classic race this year as Raikkonen dominating the race start to finish in a masterly display on a circuit he clearly loves and where he won in both 2004 and 2005.

The Podium in Belgium

 

Ferrari dominated by several tenths from Saturday onwards having sandbagged McLaren into a false sense of superiority on the first two days the top 4 drivers and top two teams finishing in grid order -  Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso and Hamilton - the effect being a narrowing of the gap at the top of the drivers points table to just two points.

Alonso clearly demonstrated how much quicker he was over Hamilton all weekend - nearly half a second a lap at times - a psychological blow between team mates when the relationship between the two drivers seems at it’s lowest ebb and the first corner barging incident has set the tone for the rest of the season. Any lingering doubts about their relationship and Alonso’s ruthlessness were dispelled by Lewis’s evident bewilderment post race that his team mate had so coarsely barged him out of the way at the first corner.

Post race they each took a different view of events. Fernando very defensive “At the start I was sticking to the inside line as long as possible. Unfortunately Lewis ran wide, as there was no space left and I knew there was plenty of run off area. I knew that my car in the first stint would be a bit faster as I was stopping one lap earlier than Lewis, so it was very important to be in front. It will be a close fight until the end of the Championship which the fans will hopefully enjoy.”

Lewis and Fernando fight it out for third

Lewis was obviously not at the same incident “ I got a good start and thought I had a chance to get past at the first corner, but I had to run wide as Fernando kept to the inside line. Initially I thought ‘oh thanks’ but I guess these things happen when you fight for the World Championship. The gap between Fernando and myself is now down to two points which is close, but I am just going to go all out in the last three races to try and win the Drivers’ Championship. ”

Ron Dennis was sanguine on the bumps and grinds “ When you have two great drivers like Fernando and Lewis fighting for the World Championship, you have to expect manoeuvres like we saw today at the start, which are a result of both being extremely competitive. We have a great World Championship with both at the top of the table, and I am looking forward to the next three races. The team gave them every opportunity to fight up until the final lap. We have worked hard and have shown 100% reliability in the races with our cars so far this year and the entire team look forward to the rest of the season."

So, with little to excite at the front of the field it was for the midfielders to provide much of the weekend’s entertainment with fine and battling drives from Webber, Heidfeld, Button, Rosberg, Coulthard and others where the challenging Spa circuit allowed sometimes fine drivers to show how much they were being held back by second string cars.

Just two points now separate the leading contenders but clearly Raikkonen fancies his chances for a late run at the title especially as Massa may now well be forced by Ferrari to support his team mate and follow team orders, a role that may not sit well with him as he still sees he has a chance for the tile, albeit a slim one.

As or possibly even more interesting than the race was the continuing story of what is now being called Spygate, our thoughts on the matter appear in a separate story.

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