The Suzuka circuit is a proper one, with lots of elevation changes, a very fast flowing section (similar to Silverstone) and some very high speed corners. Sadly, I expect this will mean it’ll suit Red Bull. However, given their resurgence, it’s worth mentioning that last year Sauber had a strong result at Suzuka, when Kobayashi got third. Perhaps Hulkenberg will be able to get good points again (thanks to him Sauber are now tied on points but ahead of Toro Rosso in the Constructors’) and Gutierrez could nab his first point or two.
Lotus benefited from some fortune with the safety car timing in Korea but their raw pace in the race was also very good. They could be a threat to Red Bull and Mercedes. Mercedes recently seem to have lost out in the races. It was a combination of misfortune (Rosberg’s nose drooping) and misjudgement (leaving Hamilton out too long) that cost them in Korea.
Ferrari are fourth fastest now. With only an average start. Alonso really didn’t make any headway all day.
Early forecasts have the circuit dry all weekend, but it’s a good race track so hopefully that won’t be a detriment.
Given the Red Bull/Mercedes dominance in qualifying and (perhaps not the Silver Arrows) in the race it’s interesting to note that Ferrari and Lotus have top scored in the most recent Grands Prix. This is largely due to Webber’s car exploding (the rumours of Vettel having a button marked “Multi-21”, which ignites a small fire in Webber’s engine, are entirely untrue, I’m given to understand).
Driver market stuff: still no word yet but I imagine Hulkenberg will get a deal sewn up in a week or two. He’s tall, which is a disadvantage and may become a significant one next year, but he definitely has a cool head and fast pace and deserves to be in a better team. Lotus seems likeliest.
Grosjean, I imagine, will be retained. He’s always had the pace but his judgement (especially off the line) was in doubt, but he’s barely put a foot wrong this year.
The biggest unknown is Massa. He’s small and can be very, very fast (we saw that at the end of last year) but he’s been inconsistent for a while now. Not sure where he’ll end up. Sauber would seem a possibility, as would leaving F1 altogether (which would mean we’d have no Brazilian drivers, which would seem odd).
As always, your comments, thoughts, witticisms and tips are welcome below.