Suzuka always delivers when it comes to exciting races, therefore it's no surprise that the tier 1 race last week proved to be a cracker. Were there many takeaways from this race, for the championship and who to keep an eye on in the final rounds of this season?
Qualifying proved to be largely uneventful for a change in tier 1 with the league forced to run short qualifying instead of its traditional full qualifying, with the pesky servers at codemasters HQ wreaking havoc on many drivers connectivity to the lobby.
However, one thing this did provide was a very interesting challenge for the drivers as with less time to get dialled into the track (most drivers only had 2 or 3 attempts all session), it meant that every single lap counted in the hunt for pole position.
AliFerrari5 showed yet again why many regard him as the fastest in the field with a lap nearly 0.8 seconds ahead of the chasing pack, could he translate this blistering one lap pace into a solid performance in the race?
Our previous championship leader HurshS2004 left it very late to put in a representative time, but he will be happy with his 5th place given the pressure on him for that final lap.
Shots2drippy and ObjektFungus165 perhaps came a little short in the shot qualifying and would be left hoping to make place up in the race to continue their championship charge.
And what of Monkeyboycurt97? Being very open and honest in declaring his qualifying pace to be much slower than his race pace, but sticking it 4th less than half a tenth off the very fast CollaterolAds94 in second? Showing very good pace before the race.
The top 10 on the grid can be seen below:
Watch the start here:
Tier 1 starts always promise to entertain and the run down to turn 1 here was no exception. Two main victims, one off the line and one at turn 2. Silversideboi (in only his second race), gets tagged almost immediately off the line. Spinning him into the wall and bringing a very early end to his Japanese Grand Prix.
Second place man CollaterolAds94 faired slightly better off the start. But by turn 2, having snuck up the inside of pole sitter aliFerrari5, tagged his left front wheel on the right rear of the Mercedes, sending him packing all the way back to 14th place and with a lot of work to do.
The start of the race went very well for 4th place man MonkeyboyCurt97. That strong race pace was on full show as he managed to leapfrog aliFerrari5 and take the lead on lap 3. The pressure clearly got to aliFerrari5, making an unforced error at the hair pin, riding the kerb and spinning on his own accord. The incident may have been referred to the stewards for further investigation as upon rejoining the track, aliFerrari5 knocked the front wing of xOMTx KlooTsjaK, giving him enough damage to force a wing change and hamper his race. Do you think it was an unsafe re-entry? Watch the video for yourself and see. How will this affect aliFerrari5's championship as he gets closer to an ever ominous race ban (12 penalty points accumulated so far).
Then, the dreaded commentators curse struck again. Monkeyboycurt97, dominating the opening stint of this race, was being complimented handsomely by the commentary team for his great work early on. But upon pit entry, he seemed to get a bit too cosy with the pit wall and damaged his front wing! Unfortunately, his Williams team didn't appear to spot this, and sent him on his way with his broken front wing. Forcing him into a second pit stop for repairs and giving him and almighty task to try and score good points for his team.
The race lead fell to Grownsy4446, who valiantly fought for 2 laps before being passed by Shots2drippy (who passed Harrisonsh59 on the safety car restart). A cracking overtake to show that not only is Shots2drippy fantastic defensively, he's handy on the offence too. His consistency proving a key element in his fight for the championship.
At this point, Shots2drippy had picked up a 3 second time penalty, and, had a very fast approaching papaya McLaren increasing in size in his wing mirrors. RBT seresv28 had a pretty low key race until this point, but after dispatching of cars left right and centre, profiting from two safety cars (after starting 15th!) now somehow had a shot at the win! Shots2drippy putting on show a defensive masterclass for laps on end proved entertaining for the stream, but ultimately futile, as RBT seresv28 dived up the inside of Shots2drippy into the popular overtaking spot of turn 1 and that proved to be that in terms of the race.
Grownsy4446 was lurking back in 3rd place trying to keep within 3 seconds of Shots2drippy in order to steal 2nd place under pressure, but picked up a 5 second penalty of his own before spinning out and falling out of the podium places. This gifted ObjektFungus165 a 3rd place he might have not been expecting, given his pace in qualifying and throughout the race.
A special mention to Monkeyboycurt97, after his earlier mishap which put him right down the field, recovered to 5th place which earned him and his Williams teammate Shots2drippy, a very hard earned 10 points in their quest to challenge for the constructors and overall constructors.
Also to AltijdDean and Twinzzz for providing us with an interesting battle on stream over the final points place at the time in 10th and 11th!
Top 10 race result can be found below:
Take-aways from the event
Coming to the last rounds of this almighty championship now and no one can call how these tier 1 titles are going to go.
Favourite aliFerrari5 came up short here in Japan despite his impressive pace, however I still feel that he will be happy with the 7 points he receives for his 7th place and fastest lap and it keeps him in touch at the top currently.
We are still awaiting any stewards reports that could change the outcome of that result for him however.
Shots2drippy for me is the personal one to watch for the upcoming race in Austin. He is really showing form now over the past 3 events with two 2nd places and a win to his name, its becoming a habit that he ends up in the drivers interviews. If he carries on with that level on consistency, he might just nick the top spot at Imola in a couple of months time.
As for the constructors, Williams are really starting to put together some seriously consistent results. Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Alpine aren't too far back however and will certainly be hoping to put pressure on Williams at the top, starting from the next race.
Be sure to tune in on our twitch.tv/FPracingleague this Thursday 18th November for what I'm sure is going to be another exciting action packed race around the Circuit of the Americas.
See you there!