There is so much to talk about from the Japanese Grand Prix it’s hard to know where to start. We had Lewis Hamilton losing his head when all that was required was some pragmatism, Felipe Massa showing his ruthless side, Fernando Alonso and Renault again excelling and then a highly contentious penalty for Sebastian Bourdais, which gifted Massa and Ferrari an extra point reducing Hamilton’s lead to five points.
Let’s start with Hamilton. Starting from pole, he knew that Raikkonen was a threat off the start line, but he also knew that Raikkonen was no threat to his championship position. Second place here behind Kimi would have been fine, as long as Massa finished behind. Ron Dennis even made this point in his press gathering on Saturday evening. So Lewis was told by Ron, “If Raikkonen passes you at the start, let him go”. Lewis did the opposite. Once again, faced with a Ferrari in front of him he got a red mist on, just as he did when Kimi passed him in the pit lane in Canada. He lunged down the inside, his front wheels locked up and pushed Kimi wide, losing vital places himself in the process, but more importantly, putting flat spots on his front tyres which would have made the car undriveable over a 20 lap stint.
So already he knew that he would have to stop for new tyres on lap 1. But he wasn’t thinking about tyres, he was thinking about Massa , who had got in front of him. He repassed Massa, who ran wide and then came across the chicane at him and the inevitable collision happened, which spun Hamilton around and dropped him to the back of the field.
This was a different Massa from the one we have seen in the past, who didn’t put up much of a fight in Hockenheim, or in Malaysia last year, when Hamilton passed him. This was ruthless Massa; he’d lost the corner but he wasn’t going to let Hamilton get by so he hit him. Hamilton can have few complaints about it, after all he’s put some tasty moves on other drivers this year, but it’s definitely a marker for him that Massa will not be a soft touch in future.