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My Japanese Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 17:13 UK time, Friday, 2 October 2009

If Jenson Button and Brawn are going to clinch either the constructors' or drivers' championship - or both - this weekend then they are going to have to do it the hard way in Japan.

The rain, some of it torrential in the second practice session, made sure that none of the teams had any meaningful running on Friday, which is, in essence, a test day. I talked to various engineers and they all said they had learnt nothing at all.

It was a frustrating day and it looks like the first dry running at Suzuka will come in the first part of qualifying on Saturday as most forecasts are predicting it will be wet again for third practice.

Now it is pretty much down to the ability of the drivers and engineers as well as the performance of the cars during qualifying and then the race - and that cranks up the sense of anticipation even more.

For Red Bull, it is pretty much do or die this weekend. If Button scores five or more points than his team-mate Rubens Barrichello he will be crowned world champion.

There are so many permutations for the third contender, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, but the top line is that he needs to win in Suzuka. In terms of the constructors' title, Red Bull must cut Brawn's lead by at least seven points to stay in the hunt.

Having said all that, here are my top-eight predicted finishers for the Japanese Grand Prix:

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Mark Webber (Red Bull)
Rubens Barrichello (Brawn)
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Jenson Button (Brawn)
Adrian Sutil (Force India)
Nico Rosberg (Williams)
Fernando Alonso (Renault)

vettellight595.jpgSebastian Vettel is not completely out of the running for the drivers' championship

The track which is most similar to Suzuka is Silverstone where Red Bull scored a one-two this season with Vettel leading home Webber. Of course, other teams have improved since the British GP but Red Bull have an upgrade for this race and a specification to fit the track's famous high-speed corners.

They have to hope their Renault engines hang on; especially as far as Vettel is concerned as he has used up his maximum quota of eight engines for the season.

Red Bull know that this track should suit them more than the Brawns so it is far better for Christian Horner's team to have tried and failed rather than to have taken a conservative approach.

Team orders are not allowed in Formula 1 but it is possible for the drivers to 'come to some sort of arrangement' - think back to China last season when championship contender Felipe Massa 'got past' his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen late on in the race.

For those reasons I've gone for Vettel to take the victory. He has to win to keep his title hopes, and the hopes of his team, alive.

Barrichello is another man who needs to score points at Suzuka. He knows this is his best-ever chance of winning the championship, especially if paddock speculation that he is going to Williams in 2010 is correct.

The Brazilian needs to attack having lost ground on Button last week in Singapore. He has proved the master of Suzuka before, winning in 2003, and if there is any hint of dampness on the track he knows exactly how to cope with that.

In contrast, Button doesn't need to chase the victory here. He would like to win but it's not about winning this race, it's about winning the championship. He is looking relaxed here and I'm told he's very confident.

On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons for the Englishman to go for glory in Japan. He has a lot of history here because of his former ties with Honda; he has spent the last few days in Tokyo and will stay on for another week after the race and his girlfriend Jessica is Japanese.

What's more, Button would love to clinch the title as soon as possible to take the pressure off.

Brawn know they perform better on stop-start tracks, for example in Singapore, but even if they don't expect to have the out-right pace of the Red Bulls they are still to be feared.

I have predicted Lewis Hamilton to take fourth place in Japan. He hasn't driven at Suzuka before but is inspired by this famous track and McLaren were very happy with the world champion's performance on Friday, despite the limited running.

For the likes of Renault's Romain Grosjean and the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari, their first race here could be a real struggle but for someone like Hamilton his talent simply shines through, he has the class to learn the track straight away.

The pressure is off Hamilton and now he is driving for fun. Watching him on his first serious lap in Suzuka was a joy; he flew up the hill and was almost two seconds quicker than anyone else even on the intermediate tyres.

Adrian Sutil, who is driving for a new Force India contract, loves this track and as a former Japanese Formula Three champion he knows it well. The team didn't particularly want him to go out in the rain-drenched second session but he is so confident that the car will run well this weekend that he went out anyway.

The downforce here isn't quite the way Force India would like it but they feel it is still suited to their car's strengths.

Williams were greatly encouraged by Nico Rosberg's showing in Singapore, despite his pit-lane penalty, and they have brought a new front wing and diffuser to Japan. Rosberg is also driving with the pressure off, if speculation that he is set for a move to a front-running team is to be believed.

alonsomedia595.jpgHaving survived 'crash-gate', Fernando Alonso will be driving for Ferrari next season

Fernando Alonso is also in a similar frame of mind now his Ferrari deal is signed and out in the open. A Renault team insider told me he had never experienced such an atmosphere in the team following Alonso's third place in Singapore. There was such a sense of achievement in getting back on the podium after all the pressure of "crash-gate".

There is not a single driver who fails to be inspired by Suzuka's fantastic figure-of-eight track, which returns after a two-year absence. Its high-speed corners, variable gradients and wonderful S's snaking up the hill in sector one are all part of its magnificent challenge

And how ironic would it be if the Brawn team captured one or both of the championships on offer this weekend at Honda's home track, just 10 months after the Japanese giant pulled the plug on the team and Ross Brawn came to its rescue.

Comments

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  • 1. At 8:23pm on 02 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "If Jenson Button and Brawn are going to clinch either the constructors' or drivers' championship - or both - this weekend then they are going to have to do it the hard way in Japan."

    Can Button clinch the title this weekend? I don't think so. It seems like a far fetched scenario to me, Rubens finishing out of the points if at all and Button scoring 5pts or more than Rubens does.

    I'll pick Vettel as winner though, seeing as the RBR car is the best in the wet, or so it seems.

    I wouldn't discount Hamilton though, his drive in Fuji in the wet (last year wasn't it?) proves how good he can be in the wet compared to other drivers.

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  • 2. At 8:26pm on 02 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    Oops I made a Murray Walker. Lol.

    This sentence "Rubens finishing out of the points if at all and Button scoring 5pts or more than Rubens does."

    is supposed to read

    "Rubens finishing out of the points if at all and Button scoring at least 5pts or Button scoring 5pts more than Rubens does if Ruben finishes in the points."

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  • 3. At 8:30pm on 02 Oct 2009, ant_davids_son1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 8:33pm on 02 Oct 2009, ant_davids_son1 wrote:

    sorry had one too many beers to be fair you have improved. unlike my alcohol tolerency!!!

    but your predictions are always wrong.

    take a leaf out of murrays book and give up making predictions i have for this season

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  • 5. At 8:54pm on 02 Oct 2009, Estesark wrote:

    I simply cannot see both Red Bull drivers finishing at the front this weekend. Their form of late has been dire. I expect Lewis to win, Kimi to put on a show for his soon-to-be-former employers, and Jenson to win the WDC after another driver error from Rubens which he'll probably blame on the team.

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  • 6. At 8:59pm on 02 Oct 2009, cordas wrote:

    Not to be a smartalec, but are those predictions or your hoped for outcome to keep the season open?

    Everything you have said about Button are reasons for him to really fly here, he knows and loves the track, he is happy, relaxed and feeling confident.... and this is a flowing track that suits his driving style.... All things that tend to bring out the best in him, he is also very good on a changeable track and it seems track conditions will be changeable...

    After that I am going to plead the 'Murray' and not make any predictions other than its going to be a cracking race... Well apart from the last thing I expect to see is a Red Bull 1-2, I think the race is going to be to tight for any one team to dominate.

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  • 7. At 9:24pm on 02 Oct 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Great Blog as always. Fascinating to read.

    Here are my predictions for this weekend's race.

    1. Sebastian Vettel
    2. Rubens Barrichello
    3. Lewis Hamilton
    4. Kimi Raikkonen
    5. Jenson Button
    6. Mark Webber
    7. Robert Kubica
    8. Nico Rosberg.

    I applaud you for making predictions in a season where it is incredibly difficult to predict correctly.
    To all those who say the predictions are pointless, lets see yours. It's a bit of fun.

    Can anyone by right?


    All the best, and have a great weekend Jonathan.

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  • 8. At 9:26pm on 02 Oct 2009, alan1970 wrote:

    Slightly off topic... however Massa had a point this week (largely missed by all and sundry last week) that although he had a problem in the pits last year in Singapore (i.e. hurriedly driving away with fuel rig attached so as to get back on the circuit without losing track position) - the only reason he pitted at this time (out of sync and from 1st place) was because of the safety car. Therefore in an incident free race he most probably would have won and been world champion a few races later. It is not a mute point and something I believe the FIA deliberately air brushed over - allowing them to be lenient on Renault.

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  • 9. At 9:30pm on 02 Oct 2009, I Am Deluded - Hughton Is A Geordie wrote:

    Button to close in on the Championship, and win it for me.

    1) Jenson Button
    2) Kimi Raikonnen
    3) Adrian Sutil
    4) Heikki Kovalainen
    5) Mark Webber
    6) Fernando Alonso
    7) Nico Rosberg
    8) Kazuki Nakajima ('Cos it's his home GP)

    Rubens and Lewis to push too hard in the race and go out, Sebastian will be let down by engine failure. That's my thoughts anyway!

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  • 10. At 9:32pm on 02 Oct 2009, rich1701 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 9:33pm on 02 Oct 2009, alan1970 wrote:

    As for my prediction (being as this is a blog about predicting the result)...

    1. Jenson Button
    2. Lewis Hamilton
    3. Fernando Alonso
    4. Sebastian Vettel
    5. Rubens Barrichello
    6. Kimi Raikkonen
    7. Nico Rosberg
    8. Adrain Sutil

    JB crowned World Champion and Brawn GP Constructors Champions

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  • 12. At 9:41pm on 02 Oct 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    Number 10 has a point in some respects Legard. Please stop predicting like this. They have never been close. I'm not saying it's bad, in fact it makes F1 sound interesting but you need to improve.

    I do see Button in front of Barrichello and I don't see Vettel winning.

    Webber, Alonso, Sutil, Alguersauri, Liuzzi and Buemi will go well and Nakajima will as well

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  • 13. At 9:44pm on 02 Oct 2009, kyerobertson wrote:

    Interesting predictions...I really do hope that Jonathan refrains from saying "he's dancing behind him" when a car is about to overtake another. Dancing? Seriously?

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  • 14. At 9:53pm on 02 Oct 2009, tootsie323 wrote:

    Actually, Jonathan is growing on me... but I still have little faith in his predictions! On one hand that is a shame because I would like to see the title race still open; on the other I would - as a fan - like to see Jenson wrap this up.

    I share the opinion of many that he is not the most complete driver out there but, with the right car, set-up, and his style of driving, he can be a match for anyone and I am glad that he has finally been given the opportunity to prove just that.

    Even if the other teams have played catch-up successfully next year the refuelling ban may well play to the advantage of drivers such as Jenson, who tend to be 'kind' on their cars and tyres.

    PS. I don't want to take anything away from any other driver - between them and the complete shake-up we have seen at the front of the field this year we have seen one of the most intriguing seasons for a while.

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  • 15. At 10:25pm on 02 Oct 2009, ant_davids_son1 wrote:

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  • 16. At 10:26pm on 02 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    1 Vettel
    2 Webber
    3 Hamilton
    4 Rosberg
    5 Button
    6 Barrichello
    7 Alonso
    8 Kovalinen
    I can see Kimi struggling this weekend but COME ON THE ICEMAN

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  • 17. At 10:36pm on 02 Oct 2009, ButtonFTW wrote:

    1. Alonso
    2. Hamilton
    3. Rosberg
    4. Barrichello
    5. Kovalainen
    6. Button
    7. Vettel
    8. Nakajima

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  • 18. At 11:24pm on 02 Oct 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    Why do people think it's the be all and end all whether the predictions are right or not? It's just a bit of fun to see how close we can get. Stop taking it so seriously.

    IF is F1 backwards, it's always been unpredictable. These blogs are another part of the BBC's excellent weekend of coverage, all of which add up to a wonderful experience across the whole weekend.

    Sebastian Vettel
    Rubens Barrichello
    Lewis Hamilton
    Mark Webber
    Kimi Raikkonen
    Jenson Button
    Fernando Alonso
    Nico Rosberg

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  • 19. At 11:28pm on 02 Oct 2009, redsloz wrote:

    Why are so many people saying that Sebastian Vettel is unlikely to win it? He is very quick this weekend, and as we all know, he is the best driver is the wet and even at only 22 years old.
    And for those who are saying Button is going to win it, you have another thing coming optimists. Please get real, you know won't win this weekend.
    Here are my predictions:-

    1.Sebastian Vettel (The best driver on the grid)
    2.Mark Webber
    3.Lewis Hamilton
    4.Adrian Sutil
    5.Rubens Barrichello
    6.Nico Rosberg
    7.Jenson Button
    8.Fernando Alonso

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  • 20. At 11:48pm on 02 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    19)redsloz Vettel is not the best driver on the grid he has made too many mistakes this year but in years to come he could be

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  • 21. At 00:16am on 03 Oct 2009, Canadacharles wrote:

    This blog seems to be based more on what various drivers i.e. Vettel and Rubens, need to do rather than any serious assessment of what might happen.
    I cannot see Webber on the podium somehow and I think the mere fact that Button knows he doesn't have to win this race could be a big factor in his performance and see him near or at the front. Don't forget Button is no slouch in the wet either.
    For the rest, if he doesn't crash out Hamilton will be there somewhere, and although I hope not, I fear the pressure to stay in touch with Button could be Ruben's undoing. As for Kimi, who knows. He might do anything or nothing. depends on whether he's seriously looking for another drive or ready to quit.

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  • 22. At 00:40am on 03 Oct 2009, angela_harmon wrote:

    My comments were banned in this blog last week for pointing out that Legard had his facts wrong about Rubens not winning the 2004 Italian and Chinese GP's back to back, and expressing an opinion about my preference for last year's commentator partner to Martin Brundle (don't want to be any more explicit in case I upset the JL censors...)

    However JL's comment was so sweet:
    "And how ironic would it be if the Brawn team captured one or both of the championships on offer this weekend at Honda's home track, just 10 months after the Japanese giant pulled the plug on the team and Ross Brawn came to its rescue"

    JL's got a point - while I'm not a Ferrari fan, and RB never rocked my boat while he was there, how great would it be if RB took his team to WDC or WCC (or both!) wins here... don't we Brits love an underdog made good... (oops Honda)


    Angela

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  • 23. At 02:44am on 03 Oct 2009, jarversprocket wrote:

    I seriously hope that JB performs well this week-end, even if he does not clinch the championship. I think that Vettel is a danger, but then so are others who could do just as well, such as LH and Rubens.. It looks like being a truly exciting qualifying session, since the wet running on Friday does not give much of a clue as to what the order will be on Saturday, assuming the track is dry for qualifying.. What an interesting situation !!

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  • 24. At 03:31am on 03 Oct 2009, Rhyst3r wrote:

    Hmmm... i think that with all the torrential rain on Friday and the fact that half the field have very little experience around Suzuka it's gonna be hard to predict the top 8.
    Despite how much i want Button to win i think Rubens has a great momentum behind him and will be very quick. Also Lewis will be quick even though he doesn't know the track he has nothing to lose...he has a seat next year and isn't a title contender so he's just out to beat Raikkonen and Ferrari.
    And maybe even Alonso, but i could be here guessing all day...

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  • 25. At 07:55am on 03 Oct 2009, Stargazer wrote:

    If Qualifying is anything to go by, the winner will be whoever manages most laps in the race (shades of a wet Monaco a few years back when only 4 cars finished). If there are a lot of accidents, the winner will be the driver who is lucky enough to miss them and trying to predict that is impossible.

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  • 26. At 08:36am on 03 Oct 2009, torinho69 wrote:

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  • 27. At 09:20am on 03 Oct 2009, youtubef1atps3 wrote:

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  • 28. At 09:31am on 03 Oct 2009, jigols wrote:

    Does anybody know what the penalty is for setting faster sector times when in the yellows? Button and Barrichello both did this I'm sure in qualifying....5 places or a time penalty?

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  • 29. At 10:51am on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    Barrichello and Button should be given grid penalties because they did not slow down when the yellow flags were out and they had set there fastest times for the middle sector

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  • 30. At 10:57am on 03 Oct 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Could I have those playing cards Jonathan?!

    I enjoyed watching that. It made the driver's and team's situation for next year clearer.

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  • 31. At 11:15am on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "# 28. At 09:31am on 03 Oct 2009, jigols wrote:

    Does anybody know what the penalty is for setting faster sector times when in the yellows? Button and Barrichello both did this I'm sure in qualifying....5 places or a time penalty?

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    # 29. At 10:51am on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    Barrichello and Button should be given grid penalties because they did not slow down when the yellow flags were out and they had set there fastest times for the middle sector"

    Given that barely anyone had any practice time and the times that the Brawn GP and other cars set under the yellow were their first of that session I'd say extenuating circumstances were afoot and thus the normal penalty has been waived, and rightly so.

    I really hate people who reach for the rule book at the slightest hint of something incorrect...

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  • 32. At 11:45am on 03 Oct 2009, BLUNNBOTTLE wrote:

    Lewis
    Kimi
    Vettel

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  • 33. At 11:48am on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    31) does not matter if it was there first timed laps. the rules clearly state when there is a yellow flags out you are supposed to slow down

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  • 34. At 12:00pm on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "33. At 11:48am on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    31) does not matter if it was there first timed laps. the rules clearly state when there is a yellow flags out you are supposed to slow down"

    Yes and the rules are open to interpretation based on the circumstances at the time, that's what a good set of marshalls/race directors do, if the rules were followed to the letter we'd never have any racing in F1 at all.

    The rules are applied at the discretion of the Charlie Whiting and his team, clearly they see fit to not apply the rule in this case.

    And it's funny how you only mentioned the Brawn GP times and not any of the other cars which may have set a time under the yellow.

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  • 35. At 12:03pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    justice is done COME ON THE ICEMAN

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  • 36. At 12:05pm on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    Yes clearly I was incorrect, they have now seen fit to apply the penalty.

    Bit harsh if you ask me given the circumstances and it should not have taken so long to come to a decision.

    Oh well. Cest La Vie.

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  • 37. At 12:08pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    36) buemi's front wing was on the track he should have be thrown to the back of the grid and the penalties were fair

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  • 38. At 12:24pm on 03 Oct 2009, Simon Hull wrote:

    @31 - "Given that barely anyone had any practice time and the times that the Brawn GP and other cars set under the yellow were their first of that session I'd say extenuating circumstances were afoot and thus the normal penalty has been waived, and rightly so.

    I really hate people who reach for the rule book at the slightest hint of something incorrect..."

    HA. SCUNDERED!

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  • 39. At 12:47pm on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "# 38. At 12:24pm on 03 Oct 2009, Simon_Hull wrote:

    @31 - "Given that barely anyone had any practice time and the times that the Brawn GP and other cars set under the yellow were their first of that session I'd say extenuating circumstances were afoot and thus the normal penalty has been waived, and rightly so.

    I really hate people who reach for the rule book at the slightest hint of something incorrect..."

    HA. SCUNDERED!"


    -----

    Oh my if you hadn't have pointed that out with your invaluable post there I'd never have known that Charlie Whiting has proven me wrong.


    "# 37. At 12:08pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    36) buemi's front wing was on the track he should have be thrown to the back of the grid and the penalties were fair"


    -----------

    I'm sorry but I don't see the logic in your argument there, Buemi crashed thus leaving his front wing on the track, you can't penalise a driver for crashing accidentally and losing parts of the car.

    What Buemi has been penalised for is for continuing to drive back to the pits with a broken car that could have been potentially dangerous.

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  • 40. At 12:52pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    i said he should have been thrown to the back because his car was too badly damaged to get back to the pits and it was dangerous

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  • 41. At 1:24pm on 03 Oct 2009, jigols wrote:

    I think if Vettels engine does spit itself out of the back of the Red Bull, he may well have a chance of really moving himself back as a proper championship challenger... He must be in with a shout of dominating this race (unless Hamilton drives in to him at the start..)

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  • 42. At 1:54pm on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "40. At 12:52pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    i said he should have been thrown to the back because his car was too badly damaged to get back to the pits and it was dangerous"

    Lol. I thought you said.

    "# 37. At 12:08pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    36) buemi's front wing was on the track he should have be thrown to the back of the grid and the penalties were fair"

    But if that's not actually what you meant then fair enough.

    Another reason for the BBC to allow an edit button on these forums I guess rather than just censoring any posts that don't meet the moderators approval and leaving people to defend erroneous posts...

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  • 43. At 2:42pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    42) ravenmorpheus2k
    which driver do you support

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  • 44. At 3:26pm on 03 Oct 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    Vettel on pole. Barrichello and Button way down the field.
    Now who would have predicted that....er, Bernie "Truman Show" Ecclestone?....

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  • 45. At 4:35pm on 03 Oct 2009, Roy wrote:

    How are the 5 place penalties going to work out? If they are done sequentially, then when Rubens drops from 5 to 10, then Jensen moves up to 6th place. He then should only drop to 11th place and so on! Anything else would give an extra benefit to (some) of the other drivers! It will be interesting to see what happens!
    Carlonso you are very cinical, after all look how heavily Renault and Alonso were hit!

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  • 46. At 5:06pm on 03 Oct 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    I am not cynical. F1 is fixed.

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  • 47. At 5:33pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    46) carlonso
    "f1 is fixed" rubbish. every one of them drivers deserved a penalty

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  • 48. At 5:34pm on 03 Oct 2009, Roy wrote:

    Exactly!!

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  • 49. At 5:42pm on 03 Oct 2009, ravenmorpheus2k wrote:

    "43. At 2:42pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    42) ravenmorpheus2k
    which driver do you support"

    I don't. I am a Williams supporter first, a British driver supporter second. I hold no particular allegiance to any driver.

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  • 50. At 6:11pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    49) ravenmorpheus2k
    rosberg has been excellent this season but nakajima has been awful. at the moment i would award driver of the season to rosberg. ICEMAN RULES

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  • 51. At 6:21pm on 03 Oct 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    REF 50
    Pound for pound I think Rosberg is definitely up there.
    In terms of what I mean - don't be surprised if the championship goes down to the wire on the last race in the inaugural Abu Dhabi circuit.
    Bernie the ringmaster, after securing and seeing all that money go into the development of this circuit, wouldn't want a duff race there now, would he?

    Either that or Button just keeps trip trip tripping along...its so annoying!

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  • 52. At 6:58pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    60)Carlonso i see your point now and i would have to agree are you an alonso fan

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  • 53. At 7:09pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    fuel loads are very intresting trulli has half a chance tommorow

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  • 54. At 8:10pm on 03 Oct 2009, Gargletrope wrote:

    I am not clear on why "it endangers other drivers" (Buemi) if you continue driving with a damaged car during qualifying...but many drivers do during an actual race...

    I can understand that it might impede others trying to qualify...with a limited time frame....but the danger is surely equally there during a race where drivers are fighting hard for position.....

    Could anyone enlighten me....??

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  • 55. At 8:22pm on 03 Oct 2009, megajc2222 wrote:

    well if buemi had been on the track around 130r and a driver behind did not see him there could have been a big accident

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  • 56. At 9:43pm on 03 Oct 2009, Ash1275gt wrote:

    Hello Jonathan,
    A very good blog as always and some good, accurate predictions. I also feel that Vettel will do well this weekend, if his engine holds out! However, my money has got to be on Lewis this weekend, with or without Vettel's engine letting go, purely because he seems to have taken to the track so easily. Personally I can't see Jenson taking the title on Sunday, he's better off playing it safe and waiting until Brazil. This is how I see the race finishing:
    1.Hamilton
    2.Vettel
    3.Raikkonen
    4.Heidfeld
    5.Trulli
    6.Barrichello
    7.Button
    8.Kovalainen

    I've enjoyed the BBC's coverage this year and beleive that your commentary has got better and better, keep up the good work guys!

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  • 57. At 00:55am on 04 Oct 2009, torinho69 wrote:

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  • 58. At 08:01am on 04 Oct 2009, getridofJL wrote:

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  • 59. At 10:01am on 04 Oct 2009, ZummerzetDave wrote:

    The way the penalties were applied is a joke. How can it be right that Sutil finished one place ahead of Barrichello in qualifying, but, after both received the same penalty, Sutil ended up two places behind Barrichello on the grid? If the top six in qualifying had all been given 5-place penalties, and committed the offences in qualifying order, they would all have ended up exactly where they were before the penalties - hardly fair on the rest of the field. The penalties should be applied in reverse qualifying order, using placeholders if necessary, e.g. if the driver qualifying 20th is penalised 5 places, he is temporarily placed 25th, so that no-one else receiving the same penalty can be placed behind him.

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  • 60. At 10:33am on 04 Oct 2009, U14159717 wrote:

    Vettel wins. Jenson just scrapes with a point....a couple of more races like that and ???????? !!!!!!!!!!

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  • 61. At 1:22pm on 04 Oct 2009, AndrewHallidayF1 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 62. At 1:27pm on 04 Oct 2009, Kimi_Fiddler wrote:

    Vettel is proving to be more champion-elect than Button. He oozes talent.

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  • 63. At 6:10pm on 04 Oct 2009, cwallis80 wrote:

    I have to say a big thank you to the BBC - the coverage this season is a million times better than it was on ITV. The programme (including qualifying) from start to finish is fantastic and I'm thoroughly enjoying this season thanks to all your great work!! Thank you.

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  • 64. At 6:22pm on 04 Oct 2009, badgersetinstone wrote:

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  • 65. At 6:33pm on 04 Oct 2009, badgersetinstone wrote:

    Why is there so much negative chat by the commentators after the Japanese race about how the manufacturer's championship might be decided 'off track' by the stewards (Rosberg speeding under safety car), all apparently to the detriment of the sport? It's an overdramatic response to what is a normal F1 investigation. The issue could have arisen at any of the earlier races when a safety car was invoked, the final race positions changed to Braun's benefit, and the actual result at Japan would have lead to Braun being the champions. Everyone would be pleased and no mention of the stewards' enquiry at race such and such.

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  • 66. At 4:13pm on 05 Oct 2009, Wumbee wrote:

    My predictions after the race :-)

    1. Vettel
    2. Trulli
    3. Lewis
    4. Kimi
    5. Nico
    6. Nick
    7. Rubens
    8. Button

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  • 67. At 03:42am on 07 Oct 2009, david_nichols wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 68. At 1:29pm on 09 Oct 2009, Mark Mitchener - BBC Sport wrote:

    You can read the latest from - in which he reflects on the turmoil at his beloved Chester City FC - here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chester/8299012.stm

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  • 69. At 9:21pm on 10 Oct 2009, modtl1 wrote:

    Interesting read from Jonathan ... even though I'm a Wrexham supporter. But, in my opinion, this should be linked to the Chester team news page on BBC Sport and not the F1 page. This article would really appeal to Chester's fans.
    Looking forward to your predictions for Brazil Jonathan :-) - do you ever still visit Chester? I live barely 20 minutes from Chester and I love taking pictures in the park. Beautiful city.
    BTW well done from accurately predicting a Vettel win :-) but hopefully Jenson can put him out of the championship in Brazil!

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  • 70. At 4:23pm on 11 Oct 2009, ozrod13 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 71. At 3:03pm on 13 Oct 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 72. At 10:09am on 14 Oct 2009, ozrod13 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 73. At 2:46pm on 14 Oct 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    REF 72
    Who would you have instead?
    The BBC have proved that they can put on a show - the BBC Forum is great.
    The blend of commentators/presenters is spot on - you only need to go back to ITV/commercial breaks to see how "flat" the whole thing was...

    Murray Walker to have a one-to- one discussion show with past drivers,
    and more of Jackie Stewart for TV please - the man is pure C L A S S.

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  • 74. At 10:09pm on 14 Oct 2009, ozrod13 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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