Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2018

Hamilton on pole, Vettel ninth after rain in qualifying

2018 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton grabbed his eighth pole position in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix but a slip-up in a wet Q3 left his championship rival Sebastian Vettel only ninth.

Mercedes swept the front row of the grid ahead of Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen.


Most drivers had already set their first lap times when Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Sauber in the Dunlop and crashed, damaging his car and ending his session. The red flags flew while the Sauber was lifted away.

Before that Hamilton and Vettel had already exchanged lap times, Hamilton coming out ahead by three-tenths of a second. Vettel then had a quick spin at the hairpin, and rejoined just in time to be told the session was being stopped.

Sergio Perez was among those whose first run was disrupted by the stoppage, along with the Renault drivers. He moved up to eighth with his first effort, which left the McLaren and Williams drivers in the drop zone along with Ericsson.

Despite a light sprinkling of rain, the final runs produced drama. Nico Hulkenberg, whose participation in qualifying had been in doubt after he crashed in final practice, made a slight error at the hairpin. As he took the chequered flag he thought he’d set a quick enough time to secure a place in Q2, but he was in for a disappointment.

Lance Stroll briefly jumped up to 11th with an excellent final lap. Hulkenberg was soon hovering perilously close to the drop zone, which included his team mate. With his last effort Carlos Sainz Jnr grabbed a place in Q2 – but it came at the expense of his team mate.

While Fernando Alonso out-qualified Stoffel Vandoorne for the 17th time in as many races, the McLaren pair’s lack of pace left them last but for Ericsson’s crashed Sauber.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Nico HulkenbergRenault1’30.361
17Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’30.372
18Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’30.573
19Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’31.041
20Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’31.213

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Mercedes selected the soft tyres for Q2 while Ferrari chose to start the race on super-softs. The harder tyre didn’t stop the silver cars from out-pacing their rivals – Bottas edging his team mate by just three hundredths of a second.

However one of the leading three cars didn’t reach Q3. Daniel Ricciardo suffered another power-related problem in his Red Bull, running Renault’s latest C-spec engine, and was unable to set a time.

That, plus a late shower which prevented further improvements, helped Toro Rosso get both their Honda-powered cars into Q3 at the manufacturer’s home track. The rain thwarted Charles Leclerc, who having been sixth in Q1 spun at the Degner curves in Q2 as he missed the cut in 11th.

Between him and Ricciardo were the other three eliminated drivers. Kevin Magnussen failed to join Romain Grosjean in Q3, while Sainz and Stroll had already left their team mates behind.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’29.864
12Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’30.226
13Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’30.490
14Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’30.714
15Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer

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The rain stopped before the start of Q3 but Ferrari were concerned about the state of the track and sent both cars out on intermediates. The rest of the field opted for super-softs and it immediately became clear Ferrari had made a mistake.

They paid a high price for it. While Hamilton banged in a lap of 1’27.760 on a mostly dry track, by the time the Ferrrais began their runs on super-softs the rain was back.

Raikkonen was the first of the two to start his lap. At Spoon the track was slightly damp and he slithered wide, but was still quick enough to claim a place on the second row.

Vettel hit the same damp patch at Spoon and went even wider, ruining his lap. At the line he was only quicker than Sergio Perez’s badly-delayed Force India.

With the rain growing heavier, Vettel had no further chance to improve, and ran off the track at Degner in the growing shower. Bottas claimed second on the grid and Verstappen grabbed his chance to take third place for Red Bull.

Romain Grosjean led the midfielders in fifth with the Honda=powered Toro Rosso pair next, Brendon Hartley ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’27.760
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’28.059
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’29.057
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’29.521
5Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’29.761
6Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.023
7Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’30.093
8Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’30.126
9Sebastian VettelFerrari1’32.192
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’37.229

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2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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145 comments on “Hamilton on pole, Vettel ninth after rain in qualifying”

  1. Egg


    1. Hahahah…Mission Minnow

  2. Embarrassing for Ferrari.

    1. Hasnt it been the story since Mexico 2016? Backing the wrong driver.

      1. I think you’ll find that the team was the problem here.

        1. There was no need to stay out for extra lap when Kimi had came in pits to change and on fresh tyres he managed to get to P4.

          1. Vettel pit right behind Kimi there was no extra lap.

      2. And they should back Raikkonen instead?

        1. Rubens Cheriballo
          6th October 2018, 10:06

          Well they have only two drivers

  3. Why did the rain have to come and ruin the chance to beat the outright track record?
    – Incompetence at its best at Ferrari. Interesting tactics.

    1. not my comment, but this summarizes it well :)

      Vettel puts on inters, it dries up. Vettel puts on slicks, it rains. Even god doesn’t want Vettel to win.

  4. It was a very good taunt by Verstappen during post quali interview about the incompetence of golden boy.

    1. What did he said?

      1. Coulthard asked Max something like this. When Seb comes racing through he would not want to come between the championship battle, and Max said, there isnt one is there?

  5. Ferrari collectively dropped the ball today. Difficult day for Seb tomorrow. The little mistakes persist though… I think we’ve seen more of these from Vettel this year than ever before. I suppose it stands to reason: he’s only really been known for making mistakes when under pressure & this is probably the most pressure he’s been under.

  6. Sad day when ferrari is out qualified by toro rosso

    1. Two drivers with GP2 engine beat Vettel. Two McLaren drivers beat Ericsson.

      1. GP2 engine? Classic Alonso… (insert facepalm here)
        Ask RBR if they think so.
        The Toros have no chances in terms of chassis and aero package against the Bulls, and even so they managed to stay only just 1 second behind Max. I don’t think this can be accomplished with a “GP2 engine”.

    2. Honda is going to win championships with Red Bull, just to spite Alonso. If Alonso goes to Indy in a Chevy powered car you can rest assured Honda will win like they’ve never won before. Clearly Alonso is cursed by the F1 Gods.

  7. Strategy byFerrari was not the best – it seems to have put too much of that pressure Seb seems to struggle with on their lead driver. So then another mistake under pressure meant another nail in the coffin of this championship for Ferrari and Vettel.

    They have lost it themselves through mistakes. You cannot win from Hamilton on this form while making so many mistakes.

    1. And there’s the key factor. Hamilton’s not unbeatable, he’s capable of bad races and mistakes and if not for the driver errors and stategy miscalls, Vettel and Ferrari would at least have this championship a lot closer. But there have been mistakes and miscalls and Hamilton has snapped up the opportunities every single time.

      Yes, Hamilton has made errors and mistakes, but they -Austria and Silverstone aside- haven’t been so hard hitting. But when he has had problems, Vettel has failed to make the most of it, either through his own mistakes or through stategy miscalls.

      As for that decision in Q3, seems like they decided to do the opposite of what Mercedes do and like Singapore Q2 it’s back fired, but unlike Singapore, there was no chance to recitify that error.

      Re: Vettel’s second ‘off’ whilst crusing, I wonder if he may have been distracted whilst ‘having words’ over the radios.

      1. They were not doing the opposite. At the time Ferrari came out Mercedes also had intermediates on but changed them to slicks.

      2. When has Hamilton made a mistake this year? A slow getaway that led to a puncture when Kimi drove into him.? Ok, and what else? I’ve seen Vettel make many more , much bigger mistakes over the last 2 seasons. Mercedes has not dominated. They are beating Ferrari precisely because Hamilton is not making mistakes and Vettel is. Strategy errors cost Hamilton at least 2 wins this year. Team error, not driver.

      3. You’ve got a funny pair of eyeballs if you’re seeing mistakes from Hamilton this season….he’s been the only driver in the top Formula this season who hasn’t put a wheel wrong all year. Flawless driving. The Mercedes team has made several strategic errors over the course of the year, but Hamilton? Nope.

        1. Was those last two posts directed at me? I think so, I’m a Hamilton fan, not denying that, but I’m also not denying he had a few poor races early on this season. But I also missed a key part out on that earlier post, it should have read ‘Hamilton and Mercedes’

          Hamiton hasn’t been flawless, but his mistakes haven’t been costly either. He’s not thrown himself to the back of the grid with poor overtakes, he’s not gone off on a corner into a wall and when he’s qualified poorly, he’s worked hard to ensure the points loss was minimized.

          He also didn’t let the failure in qualifying at Germany get him down, taking it from 14th to a win.

          1. nobody has ever been flawless for you to give so much importance to it.
            He had 2 weak weekends this year and made a mistake at breaking at Baku that destroyed the tyre.
            That’s all he did wrong all year. And he even won the race in Baku.
            So, for his capacities, it is as perfect as he can be. And at the moment, it is way more than enough to beat the opposition.

    2. I guess you could say that Mercedes so clearly applying team orders last race, and making it a two race advantage for their WDC fighting driver helped put the fright into Ferrari and Vettel, leading to a bit of a panic from the team, and errors from the driver to make it worse @bascb

      I am about ready for that Honda to indeed be a good step and Red Bull (despite not being a fan of how the team carries itself) to take the fight to Mercedes next year.

      1. @bosyber Right, ignoring the start of the season Max has developed brilliantly and been in superb form, driving with a mature head. Casting aside the first part of the season this has been his most consistent run, and if Honda can get their PU to witching shouting distance of Mercedes and Ferrari, Max with Red Bull should be stronger competition for Lewis and Merc than Vettel with Ferrari have proven to be.

        1. Quite possible indeed @ju88sy – I think the start of the year was a bit of a shock for Verstappen at how far away they still were from the Ferrari and Mercedes pace, but now he seems have found himself again, he’s not missing opportunities when they present themselves, and Red Bull is great at supporting that.

          1. I really hope the top 3 cars are close next year. 6 good drivers (3 or 4 greats) in cars with different attributes but close performance and which can follow one another closely would be great. One can but hope…

        2. Seb apparently left a copy of his manuscript “How To Make Mistakes Like A Champion” when he left Red Bull and Max has taken it to be a Bible. No ability to handle pressure, stupid mistakes and rattled when the car isn’t absolutely perfect. Maybe the second half of this season has been a turn around. We’ll see. Until then he’s Maxbastian Vettelstappen.

  8. It was a 1-2 for Merc anyway honestly. Ferrari would have locked the second row. Bar a DNF or a safety car, Merc are going to cruise tomorrow. Those adjustments on the rear end of the car just made it totally different.

    1. yes but even from 3rd with a good start vettel could have had a chance to win the race.
      not from 9th tho.

  9. Marchionne wanted to replace Arrivabene with Binotto. He also wanted Leclerc in the team when Arrivabene wanted Raikkonen to stay.

    Ferrari hasn’t been the same since the death of Marchionne. Sergio knew what he was doing, he knew was right for the team. Now they’ve returned to their incompetent ways.

    1. @kingshark It’s kind of predictable though. Pressure seems to push Ferrari into being too aggressive and too risky in their strategies. Same last year, same this. And though I think they made the right call, swapping Raikkonen for Leclerc seems to have really thrown Vettel’s confidence. OK, this season has almost certainly gone now. But he doesn’t look like someone happy for the future either.

      1. Well said @david-br, have to agree – as a team (and we saw that in Alonso’s years there too), they seem to not have the confidence in their own strengths when things go wrong, going either to conservative or too risky, or somehow both which then further destabilises them and puts them further under pressure.

      2. I agree. I think the fact that they are Ferrari, the most historic team of all time puts too much pressure on both Vettel and the team.

    2. @kingshark,
      I must agree with you. Ferrari did little wrong as the title when Marchionne was alive and it was the Mercedes looking like fools in Australia, China and Austria. When he was gone, the mistakes started creeping it at an alarming rate:
      * Hungary – slow pit-stop cost Vettel any chance of challenging for the win.
      * Belgium – they under-fueled Raikkonen, costing him in qualifying and ultimately leading to race-ending crash.
      * Singapore – terrible strategy call leading to losing second place to Verstappen.
      * Japan – they put inters on a bone dry track. Ironically it helped them but drivers threw it away.
      Not to mention how their pace tailed off when Ferrari was quickest in Germany, Hungary (in the dry) and Belgium (in the dry) but level at Monza and trailing Mercedes ever since.

  10. Gosh, few things in F1 give me more schadenfreude joy than seeing the contrasting fortunes of McLaren and Honda, and now also of loud Cyril’s Renault and Honda. Absolutely lovely.

    1. Say what you will about Honda’s perceived incompetence (leaving aside how much of it was down to McLaren), they’ve spent year after year quietly working to improve, leaving the big pronouncements to others, humbly admitting fault. Contrast that with Renault’s insistence that blame lies somewhere else and McLaren’s ridiculous treatment of Honda and terrible car now that they have their preferred supplier, and I really do relish these moments.

    2. Renault couldnt care less about Red Bull at this point.
      The same happened last year on their last races with Toro Rosso.

      Everything breaking up all the time.
      You dont bash your engine supplier like they did and walk away with it.

      1. I a supplier (no matter what the supply) delivers the service Renault is delivering they deserve to be bashed. Nowhere, in any industry, would this be tollerated.

        1. Remember that Red Bull use different fuel and oil and also install the PU in their own way. Some of the unreliability may fall on red Bull’s shoulders, some may be to do with the fact that the Renault PU isn’t designed for their car. That’s a result of Renault having their own team and interests, which is a consequence of the negativity Red Bull gave them when they were “partners”

          1. Remember that Red Bull use different fuel and oil and also install the PU in their own way. Some of the unreliability may fall on red Bull’s shoulders

            That’s been raised several times, but I suppose it’s just easier to blame someone else.

          2. That is a good point about fuel and oil. I remember hearing that in 2014 Mercedes aero engineers worked with Petronas and engine designers to optimise the fuel chemistry, improving the way it mixed with air in the engine. At the time McLaren had Mercedes engines but used Mobil which was not optimised for the engine. Of course if probably did not help that McLaren has already decided to switch to Honda, so Mobil did not get the same treatment.

    3. Currently the battle between Honda and Renault is more interesting to watch than the one between Mercedes and Ferrari. I love it.

  11. Looks like Red Bull’s decision to switch for Honda doesn’t look like a bad decision after all.

    1. @hahostolze @huhhii Verstappen seems to be peculating along quite nicely.

      1. * Percolating

      2. @johnrkh, he might be happy for now, but we will see how he reacts in 2019 if Honda were not to deliver a strong enough engine for his liking – the recent flattery might turn to scorn rather quickly in that situation.

        1. I do not think so.. his remarks about Renault are straight to the point and describes the actual problems. He is not someone to hold his mouth when things go wrong.
          It’s drivers like VER who keep the renault in the running as a serious engine manufacturer. If it was the Renault team of even worse the McL rubbish Renault would be in the same position as Honda was the last years.
          Renault ( and even their own divers and Prost acknowledge this) is in a very bad shape.
          I really hope for Danny they get things sorted for next year.. he deserves better.

  12. Ferrari’s strategy was comical, what were they thinking? Apart from that they thought it was gonna rain more, it was just dumb..

    Ahh, I hate how the 1st of the season feels so long ago now, 2nd half this year has so far been 2017 2.0.

    Great job by Grosjean and the Toro Rossos though.

    1. Looking at performance relative to all the other teams it seems that as much as Mercedes gained something after Spa, Ferrari have lost something. Was there a rule clarification which stopped Ferrari doing something tricky, especially in the area of their starts and qualifying laps?

  13. Ferrari is practically writing a book on how to lose championship

  14. Come on Ferrari, sort yourselves out.
    I don’t want to spend all next season seeing Mercedes (or any team for that matter) with total domination!

    1. The worry is that Ferrari may react in typical knee jerk fashion and either insitute a load of sackings like the old days, or go ‘radical’ on next years car.

      Both of which have usually impacted the following seasons efforts quite negatively.

      Granted, sometimes it works, but more often than not, it’s big risk with little payoff.

      1. The worry is that Ferrari may react in typical knee jerk fashion

        So Bernie was right all along, F1 is Ferrari and Ferrari is F1

        1. For now they are a Has Been.

    2. I don’t much like Red Bull’s attitude a lot of the time @nullapax & @nikkit so I was quite happy to see the WDC fight be between Ferrari and Mercedes; but I really hope the Honda has made a good step, and that Red Bull Racing don’t again get the rule changes wrong (as they did a bit in 2017, and definitely in 2014), so they have the pace to fight for the WDC; as a team they are much stronger and more resilient, and confident in their ability, in contrast to what Ferrari is again showing here, so that we could see a tense end of the season fight too next year!

      1. Red Bull -like Mercedes- do seem to be a more stable team than Ferrari and both are less prone to knee jerk reactions. If Ferrari do falter, hopefully next year Red Bull will step up to challenge Mercedes and give us a competitive championship. Just a few factors to consider.

        That Honda is pretty pacy on the right circuits, but once it’s in that Red Bull, thats going to be the big test and hopefully they’ll get the kinks out during testing and won’t have to take a raft of component changes like Toro Rosso had to do early season. Problem to me, is that these days, that Red Bull is a different beast to the Torro Rosso, a lot tighter on cooling and heavier on the aero, hopefully we won’t see replays of 2014 testing where the Red Bulls kept catching alight.

        The other factor is Verstappen. on his good days he’s equal to Hamilton, on his average days, he’s pretty close, but on his bad days he’s a nightmare to the team. He’s got most of the bad out, but we’ve seen that spectre raise it’s head once or twice this season. If he can avoid the bad days, he could be a contender next year.

        Assuming the engine doesn’t let him down. Fingers crossed Honda finally have it right. It’s took them long enough.

        1. Quite so @nikkit – but I think (hope?) that if Verstappen has a car that can fight on equal terms, he’s learned (again this year?) to not take risks when it’s not worth it (see Singapore, with the backmarkers?). Well, we’ll see I suppose ;)

        2. Max always seems to start a new season in crazy mode and blows the first 4 or 5 races before calming down and driving at his calm best.
          If he can learn to start the season in controlled mode then I think he is a world champ just looking for the right car.

        3. Dont forget Hamilton is at the top of his game now, and Verstappen is already very close to that level. Given the past I think that Lewis could get pretty nervous if someone (Max) has a car with comparable performance as his.

          1. If Verstappen and Leclerc get scary close to him next season then I could imagine Lewis deciding it is time to retire while at the top and pursue his music and clothing interests.
            I’d rather he didn’t – but I don’t picture him as the Alonso, Raikkonen type who will stick around when things start to change.
            As someday things must.

          2. Yes he would. Indeed, the level/skill of Verstappen (21 years young) is almost on par with Hamilton in his prime and peak. How good will Verstappen be when he reaches his peak?

          3. Hamilton was not bad as a rookie. Having given some stunning racing performances in GP2 (remember Turkey and especially Silverstone?) he went on to equal Alonso, a 2-times world champion, in equal equipment in 2007.

            Of course the team is also important. Ferrari strategy has let Vettel down several times this season. Mike Elliott and others left the McLaren team after Hamilton won his first championship and joined Mercedes in time to work on the design of all Hamilton’s other championship cars.

            Drivers, engineers and strategists all play a part in winning championships. That’s one reason why I love the sport.

        4. “The other factor is Verstappen. on his good days he’s equal to Hamilton, on his average days, he’s pretty close, but on his bad days he’s a nightmare to the team”

          Let’s make that “The other factor is Verstappen. on his good days he’s BETTER then Hamilton, on his average days, he’s EQUAL to Hamilton, but on his bad days he’s a BLOODY nightmare to the team.

          1. I’ve yet to see instances of where he’s been better than Hamilton in that regard.

            Though, I’ll conceed, he has the potential to be.

      2. I think Honda are long due for a championship victory ever since that missed opportunity in 2009 due to financial circumstances, the team they built did win it and has been winning under the Mercedes monicker for the past 4 years. Maybe next year it could be Verstappen who brings them back to the fore. Gasly will need a year, at least, at RBR to be top contender. It has been the story so far at RedBull that their young guns need some settling in before performing. Look at Vettel ( his mistakes at STR), Kvyat, Sainz, Verstappen, Hartley, Bourdais, JEV etc. They all took some time before showing their true potential.

    3. Do not worry….I heard Ferrari is strapping a V12 into the rear of that chassis is 2019. Problems solved.

  15. Honda look to have made a good step with their engine… Encouraging stuff for next year’s Red Bull. Amazing really that the next Renault engine below Max today is in 13th… They must be counting the days till they’re free!

  16. Sebastian and Vettel what are you doing???

    Sure there was an element of luck but the look on Vettel’s face is not good. He is overdriving and its just not the usual calm Vettel.

    Ferrari and Vettel have really dropped the ball post-Monza front row lockout.

    1. Correction: Sebastian and Ferrari*.

      1. Alex McFarlane
        6th October 2018, 8:57

        I liked the Sebastian and Vettel, gives him a Jekyll and Hyde quality.

        Vettel is the superb driver that delivers race wins and championships, when Sebastian comes out he bins race wins by sauntering off mildly damp tracks into advertising hoardings and driving into the side of Lewis.

        1. Haha, that was my first thought too :)

        2. Good point @AlexMcFarlane

        3. @Alex McFarlane Excellent, explains why Sebastian & Vettel uses the ‘we’ so often! As in ‘we binned the car today’…

  17. Slow and uncompetitive McLaren deserve slow and uncompetitive Norris.
    Happy to see Vettel so low. With the machinery he has this year, he should have been the leader and give no chance to Hamilton to fight for the championship. Vettel is 10 times worse than Alonso, who always had a subpar car in Ferrari.

  18. It’s not a big deal. Vettel will still get 3rd tomorrow if he has a clean race.

    They gambled in order to get pole and it didn’t work out.

    Ferrari were never going to win the championship given how good the Mercedes is.

    Hammy made a blunder in qualifying last week but it gets glossed over when you’re in a dominant car.

    1. Yes, he made a blunder in qualifying in Russia and was second, ie: still on the front row.

      Ferrari made a blunder in Japan and Vettel ended up ninth. See the dfference.

      Going to go out on a limb here, but…You put money on Vettel winning the championship, didn’t you? Mortaged the house and put your life savings down on him to win?

      If you did, it’s okay, we won’t judge or laugh………..honest.

      1. One was wet qualifying with an inferior car.

        The other was dry qualifying where you had two runs in the dominant car.

        1. Thought rain separated the boys from the men.
          Thought the best F1 drivers deliver whether they have 2 runs or 1.

          Keep the excuses coming.

        2. LOL. This guy is spinning faster than a pulsar.

        3. You keep spinning, Ferrari keep not winning. Mission Minnow.

    2. Hammy is about to have more championships than finger boy. Call him what you want but the driver standings don’t lie. Hammy 5 Finger Boy 4

      1. Cheap championships. He’s had the best car for 5 years but only 4 championships to show for it.

        Most dominant car in the sport’s history between 2014-16.

        Guy has had number 1 status at Mercedes the last two years with Bottas being forced to hand over wins and having his strategy sabotaged in order to ruin Vettel’s race.

        No driver in the history of the sport has enjoyed those kind of advantages. He’s had race winning and even championship winning cars since the first season he came into F1.

        1. @anon
          I’m really sorry to have to say this, but really, you just sound like such a sad, bitter, pathetic old man.
          Of course, I am basing this statement only on the numerous posts of yours on this forum, but I believe I am right when I say that when it comes to Lewis Hamilton, there is only negativity from you, and in most cases totally unreasonable and often untruthful negativity at that.
          In your defense, one can say that you are not the only one on this site with this trait. There are others, and just like you, they too have been called out on this by other posters to these forums.
          Good day.

    3. Not quite as big a blunder as Sebby did at spoon. Track was in better shape for Ferrari’s SS lap than it was for Hamilton and Bottas.

      However, anon, you have to take a swipe at Lewis in almost every one of your comments. Must be in your contract.

    4. Verstappen may have something to say about that. 4th more realistic. Mercedes seem to have gotten on top of the tyres, allowing them to unleash more of the car’s potential. If Vettel had performed as well as Hamilton has this season then he’d be in front in the points standings with Hamilton’s resurgent Mercedes chasing him down for a grandstand finish towards the end of the season. Hamilton has just driven better this season and Mercedes have come together well as a team

      1. You’re ignoring that Mercedes were best in:

        Melbourne but blew it on strategy (imagine the howls if Ferrari made a wrong strategy call)
        Bahrain (Vettel was amazing in keeping Bottas behind him)
        Shanghai but thwarted by the safety car. Verstappen hit Vettel too.

        That was just to start the season.

        It gets ignored when Mercedes and Hammy underperform.

        Much like how people still try to discredit Rosberg’s title in 2016.

        At the end of the day, Hammy blew 7 starts that year.

        1. No, I agree with you on 2016. Whilst Malaysia cost him 25 points, his poor starts in that season -he seemed unable to get to grips with the new setup for starts- cost him more across the season. Better starts would have made the Malaysia DNF managable.

          Nobody glosses over Hamilton or Mercedes dropping the ball, I’ve seen plenty of people who you would accusie of that, critisising both when they do underperform. Austrailia especially, there was a lot of criticism over the statgegy calls, including ridicule of Wolf’s ‘Our computer showed we had enough time’ statement.

          But why let facts get in the way of your obvious dislike for Hamilton and love for Vettel.

          1. Hamilton lost 12 points to Rosberg over the season due to bad starts, he lost between 40 – 80 due to mechanical issues and resulting penalties. Can we put this bad start nonsense to bed now?

          2. Martin – Not while ‘anon’ is in charge of the history books… ;)
            F1, 1984-style… :)

          3. Hammy had one DNF in 2016.

            He blew 7 starts, moped around all depressed in Shanghai not trying, crashed in Baku qualifying.

            That is why he isn’t champion.

            Rosberg had a 9 win to 6 race win lead going after Suzuka. He did the sensible thing and just brought the car home for second place with no risk in the final 4 races.

          4. Hammy had one DNF in 2016

            Haha another post from anon, another load of nonsense.

            Like I said, Hamilton lost between 40 and 80 points due to unreliability and only 12 due to starts. That is why he isn’t champion. I know you can’t accept facts but that doesn’t make them not true ;)

            What about all the starts Rosberg blew? What about all the races he blew? Take your blinkers off mate you are making yourself look stupider than Ferrari’s strategy guys.

          5. The only reason Hammy in your mind lost 12 points from 7 bad starts was because the 2016 was one of the most dominant cars in the history of the sport.

            He could start from the back and be guaranteed of finishing 2nd such was the advantaged.

            In any normal season though where you don’t have 1.5 seconds on the field, if you drop 4 or 5 places because you choked at the start (and don’t get them back) you don’t deserve to win the championship.

            The better man won. Hammy bottled 1/3 of his starts in 2016. Choked under pressure.

          6. The only reason Hammy in your mind lost 12 points from 7 bad starts was because the 2016 was one of the most dominant cars in the history of the sport.

            Haha oh anon, wrong again. The reason is because that is all he lost, I counted: number of points Hamilton lost due to bad starts vs the number of points Rosberg lost due to bad starts (you know those bad starts you refuse to acknowledge? Because you’re biased and talk crap?). I did the same with unreliability, guess which had the biggest difference? ;)

            See that’s the difference here, I inform myself and you just spout nonsense :)

            Choked under pressure

            He was the better racer of the 2, this is a fact. More poles, more wins and he outscored Rosberg by a clear margin in the races not affected by mechanical issues. If anyone choked in 2016 it was Rosberg. Look at Canada, look at Monaco. Germany, Austria, Spain. Rosberg was just fortunate that he had such a big points advantage due to his car never breaking down.

          7. In any normal season, if you lose 5 or 6 places at the start your race is destroyed.

            But Hammy had the most dominant car in the history of the sport so was almost guaranteed of finishing second even if he started from last.

            But he made major mistakes at the start of 7 races in 2016. Based on that alone you don’t deserve a championship. You aren’t best in the world.

          8. So what you are saying is Rosberg doesn’t deserve the championship because of his repeated major mistakes at the start?

          9. I’m saying Rosberg deserved it because Hammy wasn’t good enough in equal equipment.

            Vettel has had inferior equipment apart from a handful of races (Baku, Hockenheim, Spa).

          10. Dear Martin Hamilton cut the track more than once .Passed Rosberg in Monaco because of team orders .
            Won Monaco because cutting the chicane after making a mistake.Crashed into the wall after locking wheels in the same corner more than once plus many other mistakes and bad starts .
            Overall he looked lees consistent than Rorsberg(Lauda said Rosberg handled pressure better that year ) and most certainly Hamilton looked much worse than Ricciardo who would have destroyed him in equal cars that year.

          11. Overall he looked lees consistent than Rorsberg

            He wasn’t. Looking at the races not affect by reliability issues he scored way more points than Rosberg, he had more wins more poles and was the better racer of the 2 over the season. This is unarguable fact, feelings don’t come into it.

            Passed Rosberg in Monaco because of team orders

            Would have passed him regardless, Rosberg woefully underperformed in Monaco, not the only race he woefully underperformed in in 2016 but yet you laughably call him more consistent.

            Crashed into the wall after locking wheels in the same corner more than once plus many other mistakes and bad start

            Like all Rosbergs mistakes? Crashing into Hamilton twice (both times because he was panicking behind the wheel), going off track trying to pass Verstappen in Canada, running Verstappen off track in Germany (and the subsequent penalty) plus all the other penalties he got, colliding with Kimi trying to overtake him, plus all his bad starts? And that’s just off the top of my head.

            If Hamilton and Rosberg had equal reliability Hamilton would have finished the season 2 race wins clear in terms of points. Rosberg was not the most consistent driver, he was not the better racer and he did not handle the pressure better.

            Ricciardo who would have destroyed him in equal cars that year

            Yeah we’ll see how well he drives when a championship is on the line.

        2. I’m not ignoring where Mercedes were best. I’m looking objectively at the season as a whole and in general racecraft, and race management, in my opinion, Hamilton has been far superior. I credit Vettel for Bahrain, it was an excellent drive to manage this tyres the way he did (still think Bottas should have had a lunge, but you couldn’t take away the excellence of Vettel in that race).

          I feel that even when following a driver, I can look at things objectively. I think my comment on Rosberg’s championship win straight after the season finished in 2016 say as much. Rosberg is underrated imho, and despite me thinking that Hamilton drove better that season, Hamilton didn’t get on top of his start procedure quickly enough and it cost him, those fine margins are crucial.

          Anyone looking objectively at Vettel this season has to admit that he’s had a competitive car this season. Regardless of the recent few races (Singapore, Russia, Japan, where Mercedes has had the advantage), the other races it has ebbed and flowed, Ferrari had that four race stint having the fastest car. Make no mistake about it, Vettel hasn’t had to do what Alonso did in 2012, and wrestle a less competitive car up to the front. His car has had pace and he hasn’t capitalised. Hamilton has been better

        3. It’s amazing, anonywonny. It seems from your comments that you have been watching F1 for a long time and you seem quite well informed about the sport in many ways. When it comes to anything related to Lewis Hamilton though, you completely lose the ability to think rationally.

          It must be really depressing for you.

    5. Seb will only get third if he can avoid throwing it at the scenery or another car, and on his current form that is by no means guaranteed.

      Shame, the first half of the season was amazing – but the pressure has really told on him. Almost everytime anything even slightly difficult has happened he has messed up in some way.

      1. 3rd? dont forget the roadblock of Verstappen that lies in front of him and if Kimi jumps Verstappen its going to be even bigger loss of points.

  19. Daniel’s probably eating up his boots thinking about his Power Unit next year…

    1. Renault’s car doesn’t seem to eat power units in the same way Red Bull does. I think Red Bulls problems have as much to do with the packaging as with the power unit.

      1. The Renault car performs on GP2 level.. trying to keep the engine alive to save face.

      2. Actually it’s the same engine but it’s the C spec which cause problems for Max and for Daniel. It’s software related which is hard to fix.
        Also Renault doesn’t use the c-spec which means Renault doesn’t trust their own abilities………

        1. Well, Renault and software is a very bad marriage even in their road cars.
          Honda seemed to fix the software problems in a week.. Renault already had twice that time.

  20. Easy day at the Office for the mercs. Great result for Max. Hopefully he can get a Great start on his SS tomorrow and jump a Mercedes or 2.

    Toro Rosso Honda on P6 and P7 in Japan can be a boost for Honda.

    And Seb…… what can we say

  21. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    6th October 2018, 9:11

    Everyone’s acting like Ferrari were incompetent here but both cars on inters was still the right call. Had the rain came in that couple of minutes they would have locked out the front row, and being 50 points down in the championship rolling the dice on the contrary strategy is preferable to matching the Mercs and likely accepting 3rd and 4th anyway

    1. Are you sure?
      If the rain had continued then everyone else would have changed to inters and set equal times to Ferrari.
      If it rained then stopped then everyone would have set dry times.

      The only way it works is to set a dry time just before it rains – not vice versa?

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        6th October 2018, 9:24

        If it rained it would likely get worse and Ferrari would have better conditions than those behind them rushing back changing to inters. Given the points deficit and the weather being on a knife edge, I reckon doing the opposite to Hamilton is justified you gotta grab opportunities when they present themselves

        1. I see your thinking better now but it would depend a great deal on the rain becoming torrential very quickly.
          I agree that given the situation they are justified to take risks but it still seemed like a heck of a long shot.

        2. Yes, but only one team thought this way….. One. Wrong call, but in the end was not a terminal call, as Kimi showed.

      2. Exactly @fullcoursecaution, read what @nullapax writes, same as the BBC radio guys (Palmer et al.) said when they saw that happening on my F1 timing app: if you think it’s going to rain more, you could wait a few seconds (when it’s not yet raining …), otherwise it’s best to go out quickly and try to set a dry lap first, as the others did.

    2. The strategy wasn’t a disaster. Kimi was 4th. The only disaster was Vetell having to perform under pressure.

      1. I think the biggest difference was Vettel staying out an extra lap when Kimi pitted to get off the inters. Vettel stayed out, did a slow lap around and came in. I think that is what cost him his chance.

        Had he pitted and not done the second, slow lap, he potentially could have managed to get his lap in and wouldn’t have qualified ninth (since adjusted to 8th due to Ocon’s penalty)

        1. There was no extra lap. They both did one lap on inters and came back for super softs.

    3. If so, they should have splitted the strategy and put one on inter and on on ssoft.

    4. Everyone’s acting like Ferrari were incompetent here but both cars on inters was still the right call. Had the rain came in that couple of minutes

      I think people are basing incompetence here on having the right tyres for the wrong 5 min of qualifying. Bit like someone scoring an own goal in the first half in soccer and saying, well if it was the second half, it’d have been a goal for us.

    5. Pat – “both cars on inters was still the right call”
      But actually, my friend, it was not – hence the final result….!
      You might have argued that it was a potentially justified call, though even that is debatable, as VET said at the end of the pit-lane before even joining the track.
      Even with your bias it could not be argued to being a good call, even…
      No, sorry to be pedantic (but if we all spout nonsense there is no point in having a comments section) but, it was a WRONG call – subsequently acknowledged by all whose opinion is knowledgeable and valid.

  22. My take away from this is that Ferrari have lost the plot and if they continue like this its game over. I am more concerned right now for Riccardo as this by far seems to be his worst year yet in F1. The fellow has the worst luck at the moment and now with Toro Rosso AHEAD of the Renault works team – well he will be having a panic attack at the moment. Feel badly for him and Vettel at the moment. Great job by Ham/Bottas/Merc.

  23. Why ferrari why? They are finding news ways to become even more incompetent..

    1. Ferrari always eventually default to Keystone Cops mode, its in their DNA.

      1. Haha!! Summarises their incompetency nicely.

  24. GP2 car, GP2! Aarrrrgh!

  25. It was spoon that did it for Vettel IMO. He really doesn’t like pressure does he.

  26. Disappointing.

    Kinda weird that on here everyone seems to blame Vettel while on Twitter Ferrari are being roasted by their own fans for their pathetic attempts at strategy. Useless.

    Like sure Vettel has made mistakes but Ferrari have not made things easy for him – their strategy has more misses than hits this year by a long way.

    Though absolutely stunning work by Ferrari to show why people just shouldn’t support them, and how best to avoid winning a championship at all costs.


    1. Kinda weird that on here everyone seems to blame Vettel while on Twitter Ferrari are being roasted by their own fans for their pathetic attempts at strategy

      People are blaming Vettel because he had the best track conditions for his first slick tyre run and went off twice. He should have been at least 4th instead of 9th

  27. Maaaaan, they can’t get their act together even for 3rd and 4th! Extremely disappointed!

    Few chances VET will see the podium tomorrow without a SC period.

    RAI managed again to show the world he’s just a no.2 material now.

  28. Honda must be thanking their lucky star for being forced to switch away from McLaren. They would have surely being blamed for being dead last at Suzuka. (The McLarens are effectively back of the grid since Erricson’s Sauber should probably be in Q2 had he not crashed.)

    1. Exactly. I said it from 2015 it wasn’t only the engine, although it was a weak engine indeed compared to the competition. Most proof was their 2014 performance: they had the best engine by far (= Mercedes), yet they were overall weaker than Ferrari. So, it was obvious the car was mediocre too regarding the performance.

  29. Vettel is a GP2 Driver

  30. I have never been a big fan of Vettel or Hamilton, but for the last two years I’ve been hoping that someone could bring the fight to Hamilton. So as I like Ferrari, I found myself rooting for Vettel (and disappointed by him). I am sure a lot of F1 fans thought that we would finally get the battle of all battles, between Ferrari and Mercedes, between the great drivers of this era (minus Alonso), the two greats of this decade, between two 4-time world champions. Who would get the 5th? Would the other one be able to get level the next year or would someone get the 6th and get closer to Schumacher’s 7?

    We all know how important the car is, as we have seen it time and time again in these periods of domination (Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton), but I really feel Hamilton, like Schumacher, has proven that he is a truly special driver. We are witnessing greatness, and while I wish someone else won the championship soon, I can’t help feeling excited at the possibility of Hamilton getting the record for most number of wins.

    1. Didn’t he get handed a win just 6 days ago.

      Today he was always going to get pole as long as he beat Bottas (which isn’t too hard).

      He had the most dominant car in the history of the sport between 2014-16 yet could only win 2 titles in that span.

      Schumacher never enjoyed any of the advantages Hamilton is enjoying. Schumacher only had the best car in three of his championship years and was never beaten for the championship by a teammate.

      1. Schumacher did have the advantage of not having a teammate fighting him for the championship. Hamilton did not have that advantage, especially in 2016. I think losing that year made him better – though I’m not sure how it would’ve been if Rosberg stayed.

        But as a Schumacher fan I can say this – Hamilton has the advantage of longer seasons, otherwise it would’ve been harder for him to pass Schumi’s records.

  31. Retardia Ferrari #MissionLoseNow

  32. Can’t believe I stayed up till 2am to watch Ferrari blow it again. Between the bad call for Inters in Q3 to Seb chucking it at Spoon on his first Q3 lap, to Kimi just not being quick enough. Ugh. Good thing I could sleep in today!
    I liked it much better when quali started at 1pm local time!

  33. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    6th October 2018, 14:48

    Does anyone know how many times Ricciardo has been outside the top 6 recently? I can scarcely remember a race where he’s been starting where he should apart from Singapore.

    1. Here is the Racefans chart
      He’s only been outside the top six for 6 times this year, but those were all in the last 8 races.

      1. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
        6th October 2018, 22:11

        Thank you!

  34. For the second edition of Kimi’s book:

    Ferrari go out
    On intermediate tires
    Why Ferrari, why?

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