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Japanese Grand Prix: Who was your Driver of the Day?
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 (

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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.


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….


Great point. I’ll ask


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.


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!!


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…


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.



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.


I’ll check it out, thanks


Kobayashi INDEED!


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.


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?


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


Will do. Thanks


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 !


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.


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


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


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


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!


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.


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?


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


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?


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


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


Oooo I’m excited now!




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.


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


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!


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!


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


Vettel for his comment on the grid-walk…

“I heard dessert…”



Kobayashi, for sure!

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


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.


Kamui Kamikazeshi


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 ?


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)

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