Japanese GP - Sunday - Race Notes
Hamilton wins action packed Japanese GP
22-year-old Lewis Hamilton won a rain soaked Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, filled with spins and crashes to survive for his fourth victory of the season in his McLaren-Mercedes.
Heikki Kovalainen finished second in his Renault, 8.3 seconds behind the leader, fought hard to the flag by his countryman Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, 1.1 seconds behind in third.
Hamilton's win in treacherous conditions brings the young Briton one step closer to becoming the first ever rookie to win the Formula One World Championship, on a day that double World Champion Fernando Alonso crashed out of the race. Hamilton now leads his team mate Alonso by 12 points, while Raikkonen is 17 points behind with only two races remaining.
The day was marked by the first career podium for Kovalainen and the first time ever that two Finns have finished on the podium.
David Coulthard finished fourth in the Red Bull-Renault, Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault was fifth, Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari was sixth, Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber was seventh and Vitantonio Liuzzi finished in the final points paying position.
Rain was falling as the start approached, and it was announced that the race would be started behind the Safety Car. Nico Rosberg will start from 16th on the grid after making an engine change and being penalized 10 spots. Vitantonio Liuzzi starts from the pitlane.
The Safety Car leads the field away from the grid with all cars on wet weather tyres. The race is officially started, following the Safety Car. Massa spins on the first lap, but continues and pits on lap 1 for fuel and appearing to switch from wets to extreme-wets tyres dropping from fourth to last.
At the end of lap 2, like his team mate, Kimi Raikkonen pits for fuel and tyres, coming out behind Massa.
The field continued behind the Safety Car as conditions seemed to be getting worse.
On lap 6 Raikkonen spins at the chicane, but continues.
With 10 laps completed behind the Safety Car, the order was Hamilton, followed by Alonso, Heidfeld, Button, Webber, Vettel, Kubica, Fisichella, Kovalainen and Coulthard in tenth, with the two Ferraris of Massa and Raikkonen in 20th and 21st.
On lap 11 Liuzzi pits for fuel and tyres, followed by Sakon Yamamoto on lap 13.
On lap 14 Raikkonen pits for fuel, followed by his team mate Massa the next lap, taking tyres as well as fuel.
On lap 16 Wurz pits from 19th place, rejoining 21st. On lap 17 Liuzzi is allowed past the field to unlap himself. Massa receives a drive-through penalty for overtaking under the yellow after his early spin.
On lap 18 Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato and Jarno Trulli all pit.
At the end of lap 19 the Safety Car pulls in and the race goes green. Hamilton leading Alonso, while further back Heidfeld touches Button and spins causing a backup, with Wurz and Massa colliding. Wurz out on the spot, Massa taking his drive-through penalty.
At lap 20 the order was Hamilton leading Alonso, followed by Vettel, Webber, Button, Fisichella, Kovalainen, Kubica, Coulthard and Sutil in tenth.
On lap 22 Sato pits and flames erupting from the car that go out when he leaves the pits.
On lap 23 Button pits for a new nose having lost it in his first lap incident.
On lap 26 Raikkonen passes Ralf Schumacher to take over 11th place.
On lap 27 Alonso makes his first stop from second place, rejoining in seventh.
On lap 28 leader Hamilton pits rejoining ahead of Alonso who slides off a corner while pushing on his out lap but continues, while Raikkonen passes Sutil for 10th place.
Sebastian Vettel takes over the lead in the Toro Rosso, while Kubica passes Fisichella for fifth place.
At lap 30 the order was Vettel leading Mark Webber, both yet to stop, followed by Hamilton, Kovalainen, Kubica, Fisichella, Coulthard, Alonso, Heidfeld and Raikkonen in tenth place.
On lap 32 Kubica passes Kovalainen into the first corner to take over fourth place.
On lap 32 Vettel pits from the lead, rejoining in ninth, handing the lead over to Webber in the Red Bull.
On lap 34 Heidfeld passes Alonso for seventh place into the first corner, while on the same lap Hamilton and Kubica make contact and spin, both rejoining, while Kovalainen takes over second place.
On lap 35 Alonso makes contact with Vettel and spins and rejoins.
On lap 35 Heidfeld pits, while leader Webber and Kubica pit the next lap handing the lead to Kovalainen - yet to make a stop.
At lap 37 the order was Kovalainen leading Fisichella by 7 seconds, followed right behind by David Coulthard - all three yet to make their first stops. Hamilton was in fourth followed by Webber, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Liuzzi and Rosberg in tenth place.
On lap 38 Kovalainen and Coulthard make their first stops.
On lap 40 Raikkonen pits from sixth along with Rosberg.
Also on lap 40 Kubica takes a drive-through penalty for the earlier contact with Hamilton, while Fisichella makes his first stop the next lap.
Alonso's car shows signs of bodywork damage just in front of his right rear tyre.
On lap 43 Alonso has a large accident the car nosing into the barrier on the side of the track and the car spinning to rest in the middle of the track, bringing out the Safety Car, the McLaren driver walking away from the car unhurt.
At lap 44 the order was Hamilton leading Webber, followed by Vettel, Liuzzi, Kovalainen, Massa, Coulthard, Fisichella, Sutil and Heidfeld in tenth, Raikkonen in 11th.
On lap 44 Liuzzi, Sutil and Sato pit.
On lap 46 Vettel in third runs into Webber in second, under the Safety Car, taking Webber out on the spot, Vettel limping back to retire in the pits.
On lap 48 the Safety Car pulls in and the race resumes, while Rosberg suffers a problem and limps back to the pits, and then rejoins.
At lap 50 the order was Hamilton edging away from Kovalainen, followed by Massa, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Kubica, and Liuzzi in tenth.
On lap 53 Liuzzi spins and loses a place to Sutil.
On lap 55 Ralf Schumacher retires his Toyota to the pits, while Anthony Davidson spins and retires his Super Aguri.
On lap 57 Raikkonen takes Coulthard in a pass around the outside to take over fourth place behind his Ferrari team mate.
On lap 59 Massa pits from third for fuel and tyres, Raikkonen taking over third place.
At lap 60 the order was Hamilton leading Kovalainen by 11.8 seconds, chased by Raikkonen 1.3 seconds further back, followed by Coulthard, Fisichella, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Kubica, Massa and Sutil in tenth place.
On lap 61 Barrichello pits from 8th place for a splash of fuel dropping out of the points.
On lap 64 Ralf Schumacher rejoins the race.
On lap 66 Heidfeld pulls off to retire on the front-straight.
In the final laps Raikkonen continued to close in on Kovalainen.
On the final lap Kubica and Massa had a massive battle for sixth place, Massa passing the Pole in the final corner.