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Japanese Grand Prix: Who was your Driver of the Day?
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Japanese Grand Prix: Who was your Driver of the Day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Oct 2010   |  7:47 pm GMT  |  150 comments

The Japanese Grand Prix was not a thrilling race, by any means, but it had its moments of drama and looks like it may have reduced the championship contenders from five to three – certainly four at the most.

So who was your Driver of the Day?


Sebastian Vettel
Took pole for the eighth time this year and converted it into a win for only the second time. Never really threatened by team mate Webber he seemed to have the weekend under control from start to finish. He’s now back in the hunt and this win forces Webber to be more aggressive in the remaining three races.

Mark Webber
Qualified just behind Vettel and followed him all the way, nicking the fastest lap right at the end. Grabbed a ninth podium in 16 races. Kept Alonso at arms length.

Fernando Alonso
Qualified fifth but was promoted to fourth by Hamilton’s gearbox penalty. Picked up a place when Kubica’s wheel came off and then just kept the Red Bulls honest in case they broke. They didn’t but he got a podium and is still right in the hunt.

Lewis Hamilton
Had a good margin over Button on pace this weekend. Did a great lap in qualifying to take third, which became eighth with his penalty for changing gearbox. Great start to get up to sixth place, which became fifth once Kubica dropped out. Harried Button and beat him on strategy and pace. Then lost 3rd gear and had to nurse the car to the finish, dropping back behind Button in the process.


Kamui Kobayashi
Another barnstorming race from the Japanese driver. Started 14th on the grid, outqualified by his team mate Heidfeld. But what a fight he put on in the race! 10th by lap two he steamed past Alguersuari (twice), Heidfeld and Barrichello – having started on the hard tyres, used his soft tyres in the final laps to go on the attack. Establishing himself as a real favourite with the fans.

All photos: Darren Heath (www.darrenheath.com)


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150 Comments
  1. Galapago555 says:

    Lewis did a superb race, overcoming all the problems he has had in this weekend “horribilis”. Anyway, nothing new under the sun, as long as we have seen many times Lewis performing as well as he did today.

    But I am shocked with Kobayashi’s performance. His ovetakings on the final laps have been so exciting! So my vote is for Kamui.

    1. Speni says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Get him in Massa’s Ferrari next year.

      1. Ash says:

        Nah, then Alonso would end up in a Hamilton like situation and throw tantrums all over again.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        In Ferrari – or everywhere else but McLaren – I bet that Fernando would not get a #2 driver tratment as he did in 2007, therefore I don’t believe he will throw anything over…

      3. Nando says:

        For Fernando number 2 driver treatment means he’s treated the same as his team-mate.

  2. Paul Gawne says:

    I really believe its a tie between Kobayashi who was fantastic in front of his home crowd (they really push their drivers on, I remember similar with Sato getting points a few years back) and Hamilton who really was jumping hurdles all weekends and was still much faster than his team mate. only ill fortune robbed him of yet more points!

  3. Neil says:

    Sakon Yamamoto for sure. He drove so well and held Trulli and Glock for many, many laps despite having a much slower car and older tyres.

    1. Frenchie says:

      I second that although I’m not sure why he finished behond Senna.

      I remember he had an exciting practice session for Jordan or Spyker I think a few years back at the same track. If only he could perform as well in other races…

  4. Richard Adams says:

    Schumachers best race by far! He proved that he’s still got it! Roll on 2011!

    Kobayashi made it very entertaining! He gets my second vote!

    1. Alen says:

      I totally agree… but I still have no idea why James didn’t put him on the list… After the race I was almost sure that he would have a few good words for the legend but no… I guess I was wrong… I would really like to see Schumacher in a good car with normal tyres on…

      1. Carl Craven says:

        Normal tyres and a good car? Are you suggesting we give Michael and unfair advantage by giving him better equipment than everyone else so he can show us how good he is?

        Maybe we should give him Kubica’s car, obviously that car is flattering Kubica and he doesn’t deserve to be driving it.

        I wonder what Rosberg could do with a better car and normal tyres. Maybe finally Michael would be able to consistently beat him.

    2. Harvey Yates says:

      It may well have been Schuey’s race of the season but let’s face it, that’s not much of an accolade.

      I’m not sure that there is much meaning in votes for driver of the day as all of those on the list had some aspect in which they excelled. Koby was certainly entertaining, as was LH, the latter scoring extra for the drama he brought to the weekend.

      Button is left off the list but he did the best he could have hoped for in the circumstances, putting him on par with the two drivers who finished directly in front of him.

      Vettel did exactly what he must do, which was stay in front of Webber.

      Not the most exciting race I can remember. We were robbed of what promised to be an exciting challenge for third.

      So Koby I suppose for entertainment value just shades it for me

      But not a race I’ll cherish.

  5. Dave Deacon says:

    I like Button’s preparedness to take intelligent risks. Again, Hamilton might not have brought home anything – perhaps his aggressive style is a factor in his issues…

    Hamilton qualified slightly better than Button since he was on the option tyre. Jenson looked to the race not simply the grid result and took a chance. Didn’t work for vartious reasons but was a good idea and at this stage of the WDC a worthwhile risk.

    Strategy is not Hamilton’s forte – he just stuck with the obvious. Mind he does take risks but often somewhat silly ones.

    1. Nando says:

      He didn’t take a risk he went for a strategy that just about guarnteed he’d finish 5th without some good luck or a good start. Amazed Mclaren haven’t learnt by now that the option tyre just doesn’t degrade quickly.
      Button passed Alonso at the start then had a silly half-hearted run at Webber where he was always going to get blocked by Webber braking early . After the undercut Hamilton got on Button I doubt it would of made any difference to Button’s finishing position.

      1. peter says:

        Yes,Maybe. I find, rather than being uncomfortably strapped in my F1 car, wearing hot overalls & a beastly old helmet with all the other clobber, that sitting on my sofa & giving my opinion on how to drive the thing uses much less energy.

        Qualifications? Well, I drove my Mum’s Micra down to Tesco on Friday.

      2. Nando says:

        It’s just my opinon, life would be very dull if non-experts weren’t free to give opinions.

    2. Anthony says:

      If I remember correctly, it was Hamilton’s strategy what got him in front of Button…. Button admitted the strategy gamble didn’t pay off. I think you’re being biased about Hamilton’s “aggressive style”, this was a new (faulty) gearbox. If his “aggressive style” was the cause for the problem then he would have problems in all the races.

    3. Chris says:

      So you’re criticising Hamilton for choosing the right strategy and praising Button for choosing the wrong one?? Anyway, I seriously doubt the strategy decision was 100% down to the drivers..

    4. Matt B says:

      For starters, the team made the strategy decisions not the drivers, and secondly Button – if it wasn’t for Hamilton’s gearbox problem – would have been beaten in both the race and qualifying by a driver who had a lot less running in practice.

      Maybe you were watching a different race.

      1. Pedro Ferreira says:

        You’re wrong, it was Button who choose his strategy, MW said that they didn’t want to go with the harder tire but Button insisted…

      2. Dave Deacon says:

        Whitmarsh said Button made the decision and they agreed to it… Hamilton’s gearbox issue was his own doing read this: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/87359 Whuitmarsh also said the difference in qualifying was due to the tyre difference between B and H… I’d not be so persuaded that a little lack of practice would have a noticeable effect (they qualified and raced on the same day…) but that too was Hamilton’s fault… Yes, you were watching a different race…

      3. James Allen says:

        Button was a couple of tenths slower than Hamilton all weekend. But he was faster than Alonso and Kubica in Q2 which is why I think he should have gone for softs in quali and tried to beat Alonso

      4. Calum says:

        I guess if you have the 3rd fastest car and are trailing in the DWC then you need to be open to taking intelligent risks like Button did on Sunday.

        Fair play to them for giving it a go.

      5. mtb says:

        Calum

        He did do something different to those around him. I am not sure that it was intelligent though. Given that the track wasn’t ‘rubbered in’ because of the downpour on Saturday, the merits of using the prime were highly questionable.

    5. Stevie P says:

      My driver of the day: Kamui Kobayashi – top stuff! :-) No wonder the cameras stayed on him when he was pulling off (virtually) all the over-taking moves. They need to rename that corner to Kamui-Hairpin!

      I was kinda excited to see that (finally!!) someone in the top ten was going to try a different tyre strategy. Button was in-front of Alonso before turn one (and I thought this could pay dividends)… then coming out on the far-side of the “lake” and entering the “snake” he was behind Alonso and being hassled by Hamilton. The strategy didn’t pay-off and you’re right James he should have stuck with “softs” in final quali – ho hum.

      Is Button being too timid?; he was ahead of Hamilton in Singapore, with the inside line, yet conceded the corner. At the moment, does he seem too concerned with bringing the car home?

      1. James Allen says:

        I’m going to do something longer on this. He had the Q2 pace to beat Kubica and Alonso, seemed to play the percentage game rather than go for it

      2. peter says:

        Button CAN fight when he needs to – but he seems
        forever to lose ground to the cars in front, although maintaining his place. Can you get bigger balls on E-bay, like Kobayashi did?

        It will be interesting to read you on this,James.

      3. **Paul** says:

        The start at Singapore was unreal. He should have hung Hamilton out to dry at the start but didn’t… very odd for a racing driver. I feel confident if we’d seen FA vs FM or SV vs MW the driver on the inside would have taken the place, but not at McLaren. Very odd goings on, it was like he slowed up to gift LH that position. You’ve got to race to some degree to win the WDC… and I say all of that as a long term JB fan.

      4. Samuel says:

        Odd goings on?? It could be argued, if that there were team orders at McLaren, which you may be implying, that Jensen shouldve let Lewis through much earlier to challenge Fernando.

  6. macahan says:

    Both Red Bull drivers did was what expected of them. Alonso got lucky and Lewis was very unlucky. Driver of the race have to go to Kobayashi gaining 7 position from his starting grid position on a track that is supposed to be very hard to overtake. He did overtakes before he pitted, dropped back when he pitted. He overtook Alg before pitting and had to do the same again after he pitted. Infact after his pitstop he was 1 place down to where he was after the restart behind the SC.

    1. **Paul** says:

      About time Alonso had some luck I’d say after some bad luck with engines and stewards decisions.

      FA was probably my driver of the day. The two McLarens had the pace to beat him today, but thanks to Hamilton binning it in FP1 and Button making a poor call on the tyres in Q3 he managed to escape and bring home a result that flatters the car again. That’s what makes him the very best driver on the grid at present.

      Reading a BBC Blog this morning I see someone suggesting the McLaren has been the third slowest car for much of the season. I’d disagree strongly. It is only since Germany (and the first race in Bahrain) where where Ferrari have had the second fastest car, and on pace I think McLaren should have beaten Ferrari again this weekend and would expect the Korea track to favour their optimised F-Duct. I think McLaren have made some appalling calls strategically this season with both drivers. Button probably doesn’t push as hard as Hamilton, but it’s obviously a safer way to race (given recent results).

      If anyone other than a RBR driver takes this years title it’ll be a huge achievement.

      1. mtb says:

        In general, I would agree with you. But I think that Ferrari was faster at Valencia. Additionally, McLaren should have won at Monza.

      2. Rabbit Leader says:

        I strongly disagree with your view that Alonso was the driver of the day. There was nothing special to distinguish his drive and the only reason why Alonso finsihed third was due to Hamilton’s misfortune with a faulty gearbox.

        You fail to point out that Alonso has made several mistakes this season when Ferrari have had a stronger car and the same also for the Redbull drivers which has allowed McLaren to capitalize on maximising their full potential inspite of being in a less competitive car. Hamilton in particular has outperformed his car for most of the year in spite of his recent run of bad luck.

        I do agree with you on your final point that any driver other than Redbull will be a huge achievement given their performance advantage.

  7. S.J.M says:

    No brainer for me, Kobayashi everytime. Hamilton was blisteringly quick on the hard compound and can only dream of what might have been if he didnt loose 3rd gear. But for his attacking and sheer ballsy overtaking moves, its the charging beast from the east, Kamui Kobayashi!!

  8. bennyboy says:

    Kobay-Bash-shi was driving like a british touring car driver! why cant all drvers overtake like this? Shumacher was stuck behind rosberg for about 20mins!

    1. Mario says:

      Koba-Bashi. I think it will stick to him.

  9. Nando says:

    Kobayashi for me. Other drivers just did what was required finishing in the top 3 without overtaking anyone shouldn’t automatically put you in the driver of the day category.
    Suppose you could technically take into account qualifying performance for this one occasion :).

  10. Paulo Miranda says:

    Di Grassi?
    :)
    I would say Kobayashi, great driving, the only excitement of this race.

    I liked Lewis too (i’m a fan so…), he was looking very fast in the Alonso pursuit before the Gearbox problem. We may have lost a great battle in the last laps.

    Nicely done by Schumi too, just like Alonso and the two RBRs, controlling the race as they wanted. Another boring race from Button. I would like to see Kubica in the front but the tyre fell off so lets wait for more…

  11. wxwax says:

    I loved Kobayashi’s thrilling drive. And I liked Schumacher’s race in a poor car.

    But Vettel, of whom I’m not a fan, has to be the Driver of the Day. Yes, he had the best machine. But under pressure he did what he had to do: set fast lap in Q3, get a flawless start to the race and never make a mistake.

    Like the others, he drove his car to its limit. Unlike them, he won the pole and the race.

    So love him or hate him, he has to be the Driver of the Day.

  12. Paul says:

    Obviously Kobayashi, but creditable performance from Heidfeld. Nearly got into Q3, jumped Barrichello in a quicker car in the stops, had very strong pace after his stop and held on for 8th place at the end when his tyres were going off. And all in a car and tyres he doesn’t know in his second race this year.

  13. Ted Rolfkopter says:

    For my part, it has got to be Kobayashi, taking credit for most of the on track action…next to the new teams fighting it out, and MSC mired behind ROS until he went off with the loosened wheel. Kobayashi was brilliant into the hairpin, at least four of his moves through there. Alguersuari was not apparently pleased with KOB’s first move by him through the hairpin (he almost used ALG as a backstop as KOB dove up the inside, if I remember correct).

    Alguersuari bumped into Kobayashi I think two times when he passed him through the hairpin again, consuming his front wing in the process. I can’t argue much with Brundle’s assessment of his defense on the exit as ‘stupid’ — as observed, Kobayashi was already well past and on his way. It could only be better if we’d seen him hot on Schumacher’s gearbox for sixth…

  14. tank says:

    Still can’t believe how kobayashi got it slowed down into that hairpin – and so consistently too. he braked so late it made the other drivers look over-tentative. He must have had a fantastic setup and kudos to him and Sauber.

    I enjoyed Schumacher’s race. Monaco, Spa, Japan: we get flashes of potential, and that gives hope to us die hard Schumacher fans.

    As for championship, wouldn’t it be good to have Seb and Mark finish 1-2 for the next two races and be level on points for the last round?

    1. For Sure says:

      Die-hard Schumi fans.. I like the sound of that.
      We never give up do we? Just like the old man.

  15. Darren says:

    James you seem to miss out Jenson at lot!!!

    1. JohnBt says:

      LOL. I could not help but noticed your comment.

    2. mtb says:

      That is probably because Jenson puts in a lot of fairly average efforts.

      1. Stephen F says:

        He’s the only driver in the top 5 who hasn’t screwed up a race for himself due to a driver error. Twice this season he’s failed to finish and lost points, once because of a mechanics mistake in Monaco and another thanks to Vettel in Spa. I’d rather have Jenson in my team than any of the other 4 top drivers, he consistently scores points even when he knows his car isn’t competitive enough to win races unlike the other drivers around him who seem to like crashing and throwing away points. I’m sure Martin Whitmarsh wishes Lewis Hamilton had that sort of composure.

      2. mtb says:

        He had a couple of victories at the start of the season, one fortuitous and the other deserved. Generally speaking, he has been off the pace.

        I’m sure that Martin Whitmarsh wishes Button would show more of Hamilton’s fighting spirit. Somehow, I can’t imagine Button ever putting in the sort of performance that Alonso managed in Singapore either. Button never drives the car to the limit, and his strong results throughout his career have almost always been due to superior machinery.

        Despite his ‘intelligent’ approach, he is still trailing his team-mate. Is it a coincidence that Hamilton is the McLaren driver who most people consider to be the more likely championship contender?

        When Nelson Piquet took a strategic approach in 1987, he was derided and generally considered not to be as quick as Mansell. Why is Button being treated differently?

      3. Stephen F says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s Hamilton who is trailing Button actually.

        Ever thought that the reason Hamilton looks more comfortable with the car is the fact this is his 4th year at McLaren and this seasons car was designed around Lewis Hamilton? However Lewis is still behind Jenson on points because he’s a risk taker while his average team-mate picks up the points by being intelligent.

        Vettel cost him 18 points at Spa, a mechanic cost him points at Monaco. Now without other peoples errors he’d be right up there with Webber, Vettel and Alonso, and why? Because he makes sure if a podium is out of reach he’ll pick up the points that the others wouldn’t.

      4. mtb says:

        In the words of Murray Walker, “unless I’m very much mistaken…”!

        Hamilton appears to be leading Button by three points! Check on the home page of this site if you do not believe me!

        “Vettel cost him 18 points at Spa”. You can say that confidently?

        I think you should call that Webber cost Hamilton points in Melbourne. Additionally, Hamilton has retired from races on two occasions due to mechanical failures and lost points in Japan due to gearbox issues.

        Where would Hamilton be without other people’s errors?

        “Because he makes sure if a podium is out of reach he’ll pick up the points that the others wouldn’t.”

        A podium certainly wasn’t out of reach in Singapore. And what of his lame performance at the Hungaroring?

    3. Rabbit Leader says:

      I agree. Jenson has been in contention for the WDC for most of the season, being one of the five that the media have been referring to. His efforts have been no less worthy than say those of Alonso who has made several driving errors this year and perhaps should have capitalized from having a more competitive car.

  16. Jay B says:

    Kobayashi reminded us today why there was so much hype surrounding him after the final two races last year. He really came alive infront of his home crowd with some breathtaking banzai driving taking driver after driver around the hairpin. That said though, technically since qualifiying was the same day as the race, Lewis Hamilton just edges it as Driver of the Day for me. He was up against drivers who had far more experience of the track on Friday. And yet, showing his confidence hadn’t been dented by his Friday crash, his qualifying pace was second only to a Red Bull car that had a clear advantage. If not for the gearbox change he had and the gremlins he suffered during the race, he surely could have finished second considering Webber’s poor start. After passing Kobayashi, Lewis’ pace was fierce and although it is unlikely he could have had a serious opportunity to pass Alonso, I believe he certainly had him covered for pace. Finally, even though he had been plagued with appalling luck recently, he kept cool under seriously frustrating conditions that would have disillusioned the most optimistic driver.

  17. J Jay says:

    I wouldn’t choose either RB driver or Alonso. They had solid races, but nothing more. Also, Webber/Fernando benefited from this bizarre threading problem with wheel nuts (four or five this season, and now two in a race? I think this could do with some FIA/JA analysis!)

    So that leaves Cowboyashi and the Ham. Neither of them had outstanding weekends (they both made it hard for themselves beforehand), but the recovery drives were great.

    I’d give the nod to Kamui for providing more entertainment. Hamilton can take heart from his performance though. On little running, he out-qualified/raced his teammate, and he had a chance of getting a McLaren [in front of the Ferrari] where it belonged on pure pace.

  18. Liam S says:

    Kobaybashi

  19. Anthony says:

    It has to be Kobayashi clearly, he showed the big guns how its gotta be done.

  20. guy says:

    Will Lewis have another 5 place grid penalty in Korea for breaking this gearbox?

    Kobayashi to replace Massa in 2011…

    1. Dan80 says:

      Super Kobayashi and Schumi, seems like his magic is back great overtaking maneuver there on Rubens

  21. David Smith says:

    Felipe Massa….why you ask well – for waking me up at 2 am to see him qualify 12th. Then waking me up at 6am to see him crash at the first corner..Thanks

  22. Stefarno says:

    Is it possible to keep the polls open for longer?

  23. YourDumDee says:

    Kobayashi passed so many other drivers he made Hamitlon look like Button. (tongue in cheek) :)

  24. Nmar says:

    Driver off the day is obviously Kubica.

    SV: “Good start which was the key, from the clean side, and I could see Robert (Kubica) got a bit of momentum but the way down to turn one was too short for him.”

    MW: “And then Robert got an incredible start, the best start out of the top five, just like an absolute cannon off third on the grid and he had a problem behind the safety car,(…)”

    FA: “Robert did a fantastic start, on the clean side as well, so as Mark said, lucky when Robert retired as he was a tough rival,(…)”

    Source: FIA post-race press conference – Japan

    1. Nicholas Thornton says:

      I’ll second that. Just so frustrating to see him go out like that

    2. JimmiC says:

      Di Grassi for me. His selfless act in warning the other drivers about how damp it still was on the outside of the 130R demonstrates why he is a star of the future.

  25. Matt B says:

    Kobayashi for me, i really like this kid.

    Hamilton really has had the most unluckiest season, it’s just not his year.

    Webber for WDC

    1. Frenchie says:

      Kobayashi is certainly very entertaining. He’ll have to thank Buemi for leaving enough space to complete his banzai move at the hairpin. Both of them could have been out of the race in the early stages.

      I’m surprised no one mentions Webber’s wisdom in races. He kind of knows when he’s bitten to be consistent and finish with a big load of points for 3rd or 2nd place.
      As long as it is always someone different that finishes ahead of him, the WDC looks his for the taking. He only needs 62 points to be world champion.

      Very much the type of strategy used by Pat Symonds in 05 for Fernando. Plus, he’s got the winner’s luck with Kubica retiring under Safety Car.

  26. gaz909 says:

    Kobayashi’s overtakes at the hairpin were amazing. Good skills!

  27. monktonnik says:

    Kobayashi and Schumacher.

    It is a shame that Kubica retired as I think he would have raced well but may also have backed up Webber and Alonso into JB and made his strategy pay off.

  28. rolo.cz says:

    Kobayashi!
    Give that guy a front running car, that will be amazing to watch.

    1. BMG says:

      I think you need to listen to what some of the Drivers say about Kobayashi. He drives on the edge all the time and when you drive like that you are a success or its a disaster. When things are not going your way you need to do what Button and Webber are doing, “accumulate points” for the team.

      1. rolo.cz says:

        Cmon man, I can paint a wall and watch it dry, very safe, very boooooring.

        What happens is that I don’t take F1 as seriously as some other guys, I just watch it on TV, and know what? Seeing pilots driving carefully calculating the best way to not risk a few points is uninspiring and boooooring.

        I fantasize that a guy like Kobayashi could drive one of the fastest F1 cars like a true warrior in a way that is seemingly impossible for those point nannying drivers and keep me interested in the whole race and also serve as fear defying inspiration… I hardly ever see that in F1 and that is what I like to believe that Koba-san could do.

      2. BMG says:

        When a team spends the money that some of the top teams spend, Then they will want a return for your investment.Kobayashi would be a risk.

      3. mark says:

        Bull puckey.

        It’s the same old story for any up and coming motor sport. MX, Moto GP, Formula One etc. You can teach someone to slow down and be consistant, you CAN’T teach them to be aggressive and cross the edge to make a pass etc when necessary. From my many years of watching it is the defining difference.

        Schumacher, Hamilton, Raikonen, Hakinan, Alonso, Kobayashi to name a few who can take the risk.

        Button, Heidfeld, Brundle, Damon Hill etc who are fast but not able to cross the threshold when required.

  29. Dianna says:

    Michael Schumacher was the driver of the day in my opinion.Mercedes need to get their act together on pit stop calls — Michael SHOULD have been allowed to pass Rosberg as soon as it was confirmed that he was lapping 1 second faster than Rosberg.
    I wish Rosberg would go to another team,he is too cocky by a mile.

    1. Andrew D says:

      You’re kidding right? Merc would be mad to get rid of Rosberg and I don’t think he could be called ‘cocky’ by any stretch of the imagination. Both Merc drivers drove excellent races. Schumis pass on Barrichello would have put a few demons to bed there and Nico recovered well from the early setbacks.

      Big Schumacher fan BTW, thought his race today was up there with Spa as his best all season. Take note, two ‘drivers’ circuits that he’s been strong at….give him a car that better suits his style and he’ll be right back up there.

    2. rolo.cz says:

      Do you think that MS is expectings such gifts?

      F1 is certainly better when each driver justly earns its position.

      MS should get some lessons in overtaking from Kobayashi-san.

    3. Anant Deboor says:

      Hi – I have been trying to work out what it is about Rosberg that I find a bit off-putting…and I think you’ve hit it right. He is a bit cocky. Apart from bearing a strong resemblance to Leo DiCaprio. :-)

      I also agree that MS was terrific – reminiscent of the old Michael.

      Though my driver of the day – was KK. He is the Hamilton of Japan – with less arrogance and better cooking skills.

      1. Dianna says:

        From reports I have read – Michaels car and Rosbergs haven’t been equal.Makes me think of slight favouritism towards Nico?
        ANDREW~ Mercedes would be mad to lose Michael Schumacher not Rosberg.There are plenty of smart little Rosbergs to choose from waiting for a place with an F1 team– ten a penny.
        Nico isnt that good,if he was he would have done far better by now.
        Nicos father Kiki does not like Michael,and it seems to be rubbing off on his son,who lately has an “attitude” about him,that Anant and others have noticed too.
        Sadly with all his swaggering he will never be another MSC,so it may help if someone told him this now rather than later..He does not have the natural skill and flair that Michael had when he was at Nico’s stage of learning.

        Michael unashamedly is my hero,always has been.He never gives up,and this is a wonderful quality which he has always had.
        There are Champions and Champions but Michael Schumacher is the Champion of Champions.The mark of a Champion is the ability to rise again from adversity.Lewis will improve,Alonso has and Button, who I also admire, is hanging in there..
        I concur that KK also had a great drive in Suzuka,and he manages to keep a level head on his shoulders.

  30. Robin says:

    Kobayashi gets my vote. He dismissed any of the usual comments we hear about the lack of overtaking – dirty air, worn tyres, dirty side of the racing line etc – nothing stopped him today and he went for it. A true racer today and hope we see more of it and he doesn’t lose that spark he has.

    His drive also reminded me of the old days in F1 and Senna’s famous “the moment you don’t go for a gap, you’re no longer an F1 driver….” (Can’t wait to see the movie by-the-way).

  31. wetcoaster says:

    Kobayashi was certainly the most exciting to watch, it would be great to see him in a more competetive car. Did anyone else think Webber looked uncomfortable and unhappy during the post race press conference?

  32. Skronk says:

    The race was so dreadful that it made a decent performance by Kobayashi appear revelatory. This guy is going to wreck more chassis than Takuma Sato.

    1. Aaron95 says:

      That’s a bit unfair. Both are Japanese, both like diving in deep to corners, but Kobayashi seems to know where the brake pedal is. Sato preferred using other cars to slow him down.

  33. Alguersuari - NOT says:

    Where is the option for Alguersuari as driver of the day? NOT!! What an idiot attacking Kobayashi like he did, what was he thinking?

    These drivers are meant to be the best in the world, yet that was an appalling display of defensive driving considering he is being lapped.

    Though Helmut Marko probably thinks he too is a suitable replacement for webber.

  34. Pargo says:

    Kobayashi putting on the kaibosh!

  35. Mike says:

    Kobayashi – great driving. Seems to like late braking and turning in tight ( and he is a relatively inexperienced F1 driver).

  36. JohnBt says:

    I vote for KOBAYASHI san! Banzai!

    When the leaders held their positions after all the mayhem, it was predictable.

  37. Kenny says:

    Kobayashi.

  38. Kishan says:

    Agreed. Job done.

  39. Om Sammy says:

    KOBAYASHI exciting, I vote for him

  40. Legend2 says:

    Hi James,

    Kobayashi for me, for lighting up the Japanese GP. It seemed to me though that Webber had more pace in him when he was about 4 seconds behind Button and 2 second behind Vettel. In the press conference, Webber said that he didn’t push Vettel as that would have forced him into Button and then Alonso could have got closer.

    Vettel is Mark’s main championship rival it would seem, so why did Mark not take advantage of the fact that Button was in front and on worse tyres. In the press conference it appeared that the team did not want him to push Vettel. It seems on a few occasions this years, Webber has been forced to hold station behind Vettel, Canada for instance. But when Vettel is behind Webber, he is not forced to hold station – Turkey for instance.

    I still feel Red Bull are gonna somehow manipulate it to give Vettel the drivers. Like most people in the world, I’m really hoping and praying that Vettel does not win. If not Webber, go Hamilton and Button. Good on Button for trying a different strategy.

  41. Chris Chong says:

    What struck me most while watching Kobayashi was doing his thing, were the immortal words of Ayrton:

    “If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.”

    There were many gaps during the race, and Kamui went for all of them. He is one of the purest racers today, and definitely the star of Suzuka.

    1. mark says:

      Absolutely, couldn’t be said better!

  42. Alex says:

    Best part of the race was when Brundle referred to Kobayashi as Kowasabi

    In fact, he went one better when he did the unimaginable and combined Kobayashi with Alguersuari… which resulted in Kobasuari

    Did anyone else catch this? Haha.

    1. Ral says:

      Yes, Martin was on a roll.

      “Kowasabi”, “Kobasuari” and “Kobabashi”. “And Kobayashi is having a go at the medical car to round off the day”.

      I’ve been sniggering all day yesterday and just started again thinking about it now :D

      1. Bottle says:

        “Kobabashi” was obviously a deliberate “error” – a comment on Kamui’s muscular overtaking manoeuvres.

        I didn’t spot the others you mentioned but I won’t claim there was anything deliberate about those!

  43. Max says:

    My vote is definitely for Kobayashi. While he had some lackluster results at the beginning of the year, yesterday’s drive reminded me just why I like him so much! We were all going crazy for him in the grandstands. It would definitely be interesting to see him in the hands of a little more capable machine.

  44. mitsifumi says:

    Hi!!! Allen,

    How are you?! You are happy! I am very happy!, for a race in SUZUKA with a fantastic Kobayashi driving is my ultimate time.

    It cannot be an argument – Kobayashi becomes a GOD driver.

    I am living in Australia and am saddened to be unable to represent myself at SUZUKA. But on television a race is observed!

    You will become excited for the next race!!

    Regers,
    Mitsi (Japan man)

    1. Frenchie says:

      Hey Mitsi,

      Welcome to Oz. I’m a French Londoner expariated in Sydney. After five years, I can definitely call this home.

      I’m a big fan of Japan and the Japanese (been to Japan many times and attended Fuji in 2007 for this torrential race).

      Your boy Kobayashi is certainly a fearless overtaker. Could he be the best driver Japan had?
      He has the same enthusiam as Sato except he doesn’t crash in anybody else. :-)

      Feel free to contact me via Twitter (click on my name, it’ll take you there) if you’d like to talk racing. I assume that being Japanese you probably live in Sydney.

      1. mitsifumi says:

        Hi!! Frenchie,

        I am well. An F1 is my life!

        I can be sorry I am afraid of your contact. I am a Melbourne denizen. The city becomes a delight. But a COLD snap has resulted in a grave scrotum concern.

        Kobayashi is making good beginning in the F1. He is making the right time. When the time becomes later, we will be informed of his GREAT F1 ability. SATO is not a same, he his ability is of horror!

        Won’t you agree with me?

        Regers,
        Mitsi

  45. jose arellano says:

    kobayashi and schumi!

  46. Hammad says:

    Schumacher! But then I’m biased… him or Kobayashi.

  47. For Sure says:

    If Mark Weber deserves to be on poll, surely Schumacher does too.
    I think it’s obvious that he is definitely one of the drivers of the day.
    Now where are all these people who said Schumi needed to rely on team orders to beat his teammate. He loves doing it on the track – FACT.

  48. Shir0 says:

    Kobayashi all the way. Get him into Massa’s Ferrari for next year. Cheaper and will get the job done.

  49. Wobblebottom says:

    Using a ranking system

    1. Kobayashi
    2. Vettel
    3. Hamilton
    4. Schumacher
    5. Alonso

    Dishonourable mention to Massa. And I lend no credence to the Germany incident. Sure it would pi55 you off and mess with your head but if that had happened to me; I would do my utmost to cane it and score well as a big ‘up yours’ to the bosses. As it stands though, all he’s doing is making Ferrari management think ‘See, Germany was the right decision, Massa would never have won the WDC’.

    1. Nando says:

      You can say but some people just have different personalities. Many opined that the incident would destroy Massa at the time and it would end up doing Ferrari far more harm and it looks like that’s turning out to be true.
      I suspect with this approach he’s likely to get his contract paid-up in full with a rather large hush payment. Then he can go to a team that respects him.

      1. Rabbit Leader says:

        Agree 100%. Some fail to understand that there can be a price for implementing team orders against a driver’s wishes. I suspect that Massa might have some interesting insights on the subject of Hockenheim 2010.

    2. Stephen F says:

      In all honesty if I was in Felipe’s position I wouldn’t be going out my way to do Ferrari any favours. The team showed he won’t be getting their support when they told him to move over for Alonso so why should he give a damn about Ferrari? I think his mind was made up that day that he doesn’t want to be there anymore.

  50. Ali Unal says:

    I thought Heidfeld also did a formidable job in his second race.

  51. Sikas says:

    Easy: Koboyashi

    PS. Can’t vote in the poll, just shows the results. Please fix it or bring back the old poll.

  52. theothercoldone says:

    Kobayashi gets my vote – entertainment and the perfect antidote to – ‘This track is impossible to overtake on…’
    I also enjoyed the battle between Schumacher and Rosberg – very good calm defensive driving, and quite a bit of respect there.

  53. six tenths says:

    Hamiltion overtook the very excellent Koba, that was probably the best move of the race, taking nothing away from Koba’s great moves, but wasn’t Lewis the only person to pass him ?

    1. Bonzaiii says:

      I second that!!! you would thougth after his misfortune to overtake in Monza and Singapore, lewis would fear to overtake Kamui but once again, lewis shows nothing will break him down.
      Drivers of the race: koba & Ham.

      P.S (sorry my bad english, i’m japanese)

  54. Anand says:

    Kamui Kamikazeshi

  55. Janis says:

    Vettel did it, I think.
    OK, he had the best car – still Mark also had it yet never threatened Seb. A dominant win.
    As for Kobayashi, he was fun to watch, but no more than that. Most of his moves were highly opportunistic, and could have ended badly. It’s easy to risk moves like that when you are an outsider with no hard targets to meet, and have the home crowd behind you. Quite another thing when you are in a hunt for the championship, or a place in the constructors championship, and an off isn’t an option. Just look how careful Schumi was when he caught Rosberg. A very clean pass was required, and Rosberg never allowed for that.

  56. Phil says:

    Kobayashi, for sure!

    Inside at the hairpin, no problem! Covered the inside? I’ll go round the outside then!! Top drawer and entertaining.

  57. Adrian says:

    Vettel for his comment on the grid-walk…

    “I heard dessert…”

    Priceless!!

  58. AdrianP says:

    I don’t see why Jenson doesn’t even get a shout on that list. He had good pace, had no trouble keeping Hamilton behind when Button was on the slower tyre. The strategy gamble did not pay off simply because the track didn’t behave as expected and Jenson’s race was even more compromised by Mclaren’s decision to keep him out long on the hard tyre rather than cut his losses, losing fistfuls of time to Hamilton, which was obviously not Jenson’s idea since he seemed pretty peeved about it after the race. On the soft tyre, Jenson was extremely quick. Even if Hamilton had not had the gearbox problem he would have had every chance of nailing Hamilton, especially if the team had not compromised his race.

    ‘Button was a couple of tenths slower than Hamilton all weekend.’ according to James. Which part of ‘all weekend’ was that? Friday? Saturday? He only qualified ‘ahead’ of Button because of the different tyre choice – I’d be surprised if most people wouldn’t accept the soft was at least 0.2 quicker than the hard in one-lap pace.

    Suprised also that Schumacher didn’t get a look in, in the list above. Why is Webber included when, while he did a solid enough job, his teammate obviously did better?

    Grumble over!

    1. For Sure says:

      I am afraid Jenson did nothing special, he would be beaten by his teammate if it wasn’t for gearbox.

  59. Alex J says:

    Hard choice to make, as there were some fine drives out on track. There was also some shocking performances as well in the opening lap (and the lap to the grid!!)
    I think Schumacher finally showed a little bit of the old Schumi. But without doubt the most exciting drive was Kobayashi. So many times a driver will cruise up to another car then you find they spend 10 laps or so stuck behind them. We’re told that this is because of the dirty air but Kobayashi din’t seem to have these problems. I think the front half of the grid could learn some lessons!

  60. Kedar says:

    Kamui Kobayashi was the one who kept me awake. Definitely he was my driver of the day !

  61. Sergio says:

    Kobayashi was the entertainer and the main actor for the japanese Tv, but not so far by Schumacher.

    Spetial mention to Alonso’s race start. One more time electronic clutch system was out just before the start.

    Another mention to Hamilton’s “luck” to avoid penalty and “lucky” strategy of Jenson Button.

  62. Wendy says:

    Schumacher!!

  63. Richard A says:

    Kamui Kobayashi put in a very entertaining performance and is definitely my driver of the day.

    I was really disappointed by the lack of media coverage the BBC gave Kamui both before and after the race. He deserves more air time and could possibly be worth a feature article on JAonF1?

    1. James Allen says:

      We’ve got something better than that coming up for Kamui fans..

      1. Momo says:

        Oooo I’m excited now!

    2. Julian says:

      He spoke for a while in the post-race forum. Quite a character!

  64. Luke Robbins says:

    Driver of the day no doubt KK. Special mentions for LH as well, great quali and was setting some decent times. Shame for his penalty. Also for MSc, great pass on Rubens and had good pace compared to Rosberg for once.

    James – Are Ferrari / Mclaren likely to be able to challenge Red Bull in Korea?

    1. James Allen says:

      From what I’ve seen looking at the on board laps etc the Red Bull will have the edge in the middle sector. First sector is slow corners and long straights, which might give Ferrari and McLaren more of a chance. It’s not dramatically different from tracks we’ve seen so the Red Bull is sure to be the car to beat. The question mark for me is how bumpy will it be? The version Chandhok drove on was very bumpy, but they’ve laid the top layer of asphalt since then. Did that iron out some of the bumps? The McLaren won’t like it so much if they didn’t, although they have improved that weakness since Silverstone

  65. Ben says:

    Kobayashi is certainly entertaining and seems very popular. But James, what do team owners think about him? Do they see real race winning potential?

    Great site by the way. I teach Media Studies and once used your site as an example of how a ‘blog’ can become so much more than just a blog.

  66. Aaron James says:

    Hi James, could at some point (if you are able) write something about Michaels stellar performance this weekend?

    I felt that a lot of critics have been harsh. This weekend we saw more than a few glimpses of the ‘real Schumi’. I would love to understand why he was so good this weekend while apparently so outstanding at other tracks.

    Suzuka, along with Magny Cours is probably Michaels best circuit. But still why is that?

    Thanks as always!

  67. Aaron James says:

    That is ‘not so outstanding at other tracks’ if there is any confusion!

  68. zack says:

    james you say that lewis had a good margin over jenson but jb done his quali lap on the slower tyre and start the race with the slower tyre so i think if jb went for the soft we would have got a fair comparison on there pace

    1. James Allen says:

      I was looking at their pace before they went different ways in Q3

  69. Nuno says:

    I voted Kobayashi based on the entertainment he provided. Thrilling overtakes are rare in F1, and the lack of these audacious moves make some races boring events.

    Guys like Gilles Villeneuve, Mansell, Hamilton and Kobayashi were and are the salt and pepper of F1. Those super efficient championship winners like Prost were and still are considered the best of the field but they make F1 a bit dull.

    I would like to remember that F1 is much more than drivers. Actually the greatest F1 star is Adrian Newey. Some other are also making a very good work, and I am appreciating a lot the very good work from James Key (now in Sauber) and Aldo Costa from Ferrari.

    A huge BRAVO to the mechanics. Their work before the races is too phenomenal to be forgotten. And what about the guys who execute the pit stops? Fabulous !

    1. rolo.cz says:

      Well said, I completely agree with you. While it’s very easy to understand why pilots and teams do that there seem to exist some F1 followers that even try hard to explain and justify that situation and the boredom that that causes.

      I wonder if Mr Ecclestone’s proposed medal system would really help to improve the show forcing pilots to try hard to win races and not just salvage points.

      As an engineer myself, I’m actually a bigger fan of the engineers, mechanics and their work rather than the pilots. Sadly their work is darker and harder to understand for most. My congratulations and respects to all the engineers and mechanics that work in F1.

      By the way, what happened with that HRT mechanic that was run over during a pit stop a few weekends ago? I didn’t hear about that again.

  70. Will says:

    I’d be quite interested to read what you made of Schumacher’s race, James; largely because I found it totally unremarkable compared to most people who have commented on this thread.

    He passed Barrichello, managed to keep up with Rosberg when Rosberg was on much older tyres but then couldn’t overtake him. It seems like he wouldn’t have beaten Rosberg or Kubica if they hadn’t retired so he would have been 8th.

    Surely overtaking Barrichello doesn’t qualify as a stunning return to form?

    1. monktonnik says:

      I was just glad he didn’t crash into anybody this weekend.

  71. Shane says:

    I loved Kobayashi’s drive, fantastic stuff!

    It left me wondering if the teams grant more leeway to a driver when they are at their home race? Do they allow their drivers to push just that extra bit more?

    So often you hear the teams on the radio, “Push these next 10 laps, but don’t overheat the brakes, don’t jump the curbs, don’t rev too much, etc… But you need to go faster.”

    I wonder if, at their home races, the drivers are allowed to just go for it. Risk everything?

    Perhaps it was just Kobayashi taking maximum risk in what could be his final F1 race in Japan? That would be a shame, he seems to be a good driver, it would be interesting to see what he could do in a top 5 car. I guess we will have to wait and see how Sauber’s deal with Carlos Slim pans out.

  72. Daniel says:

    Kobayashi INDEED!

  73. alexander says:

    there are few links in youtube regarding vettel jumping start a bit – what are your thoughts regarding this. in the video it’s clearly sean that car moves a bit before start…

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ll check it out, thanks

    2. James Allen says:

      Seen one shot from the grandstand, he makes a tiny movement, stops then goes for real. Without seeing the start lights in the same shot it’s meaningless.

      1. Rabbit Leader says:

        James,

        Do you know if a driver is allowed to move during the red light sequence at the start, even if within the grid box?

        The timing of Vettel’s twitch certainly suggests that it was during the red light sequence.

  74. Roy Jessep says:

    Having watched F1 motor Racing since 1963,I have to comment on the drive on Sunday by Kobayashi.It was exciting and exhilarating.What a drive by the young Japanese driver So thrilling to watch.That in my view is what Motor Racing is all about!! Hope someone from one of the Big Teams comes along and signs him up. Just think what he could do in a faster Car!!

  75. zombie says:

    Kobayashi all the way! That guy should be renamed as ‘Kamikaze’ the way he was overtaking!He needs to be more refined if he wants to score points regularly.Remember,Sato was mighty impressive when it came to style, but he just could not string it together into a fast lap.

    A distant 2nd would be Michael Schumacher – he has struggled with the tyres,car and tracks, but on ultimate drivers circuits you can see flashes of his past brilliance. Monaco,Belgium and now here in Suzuka.Hope he’ll start chipping away into Rosberg’s armor.

  76. TheHankHunter says:

    Do we understand what caused 2 wheels to fall off last race? Unheard of. Kubica’s, on lap 3?, then Rosberg later in the race. Each previous time it’s been either in the pit lane, or shortly after exiting the pits, such as Alonso in Hungary last year I think, so mostly down to human error. Given parc ferme conditions, are the teams allowed to remove the wheels to check the cars, if not Kubica’s car was same spec since qualifying….

    1. James Allen says:

      Great point. I’ll ask

  77. James Martin says:

    Driver of the race for me was Kobayashi in his Sauber, he pulled off some great overtakes and added real excitement to the race. I couldn’t help but think how some of his victims must have been half asleep (Sutil, Barrichello). Surely the Force India and Williams would have warned their drivers where he might try and overtake them. They didn’t seem to defend the corner at all.
    Unlike Rosberg who did an excellent job keeping his team mate behind him until his suspension failure.

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