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Japanese GP 2008

OCTOBER 12, 2008

Race Notes - Alonso takes advantage of chaos to win Japanese GP

Start, Japanese GP 2008
© The Cahier Archive

Fernando Alonso took advantage of McLaren and Ferrari's misfortunes in the opening laps to take his second victory in a row in his Renault, winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. Robert Kubica in the Sauber BMW finished second, 5.2 seconds behind, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari in third place, 6.4 seconds behind.

The win is Alonso's second of the season, and 21st career victory.

Nelson Piquet in the second Renault finished 20.5 seconds behind the leader in fourth place, followed by Jarno Trulli (23.7s) in the Toyota in fifth place.

Sebastien Bourdais (34.0s) in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari finished on the road in sixth place, but after the race was given a 25 second penalty for having a collision late in the race with Felipe Massa, which spun the Brazilian. This penalty dropped him to tenth place in the results and out of the points.

Bourdais' team mate Sebastian Vettel (39.2s) then took sixth place, Felipe Massa (46.1s) in the Ferrari finished in seventh, and Mark Webber in the Red Bull-Renault finished in the final points paying position. Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren-Mercedes finished in 12th place.

The temperature was cool, overcast skies and no rain was expected before the start - most of the front running drivers on the harder of the two Bridgestone tyres, with Massa on the softer.

At the start Lewis Hamilton gets off to a slow start, Raikkonen takes the lead, but on the run down to the first corner Hamilton dives down the inside and locks up his tyres, pushing Raikkonen to the outside. Heikki Kovalainen follows Hamilton through but the two McLarens go off onto the grass, allowing Kubica and Alonso through into the lead, while Massa gets held up by Raikkonen. At the same time David Coulthard and Kazuki Nakajima go off, Coulthard crashing into the barrier and Nakajima losing his front wing.

The Safety car in not deployed, and on the second lap, Hamilton is behind Massa in fifth - Hamilton attempts to pass Massa into the chicane but is on the outside and the two touch, sending Hamilton into a spin. He restarts last and immediately pits and takes on new tyres and more fuel.

Timo Glock pits on lap 6, returning to the pits to retire on lap 7.

On lap 9 Adrian Sutil stops on the main straight with a tyre failure.

At lap 10 Kubica leads Alonso by 1.8 seconds, followed by Kovalainen (3.5s), Raikkonen (4.6s), Trulli (7.5s), Bourdais (13.1s), Massa (13.7s), Piquet (16.4s), Vettel (17.5s), and Mark Webber (32.2s) in tenth place - Hamilton running nearly a minute behind.

On lap 15 Nico Rosberg passes Giancarlo Fisichella for 13th place.

On lap 17 Kovalainen, running in third, slows and comes to a stop with an engine failure.

On lap 18 Kubica and Raikkonen make their first stop, Alonso taking over the lead. Hamilton takes a drive-through penalty for causing the chaos at the first corner of the race.

On lap 19 Alonso and Massa make their first stop, Trulli taking over the lead, Alonso getting out in front of Kubica.

On lap 20 Massa returns to the pits for a drive-through penalty for causing the incident with Hamilton in the chicane.

At lap 20 Trulli led Bourdais by 7.0 seconds, followed by Piquet (10.0s), Vettel (10.9s), Alonso (20.7s), Kubica (22.9s), Raikkonen (28.6s), Webber (31.3s), Heidfeld (40.5s), and Barrichello (48.2s) in tenth place - Massa in 14th, 49 seconds behind, and Hamilton 15th, 1m19 seconds behind

On lap 22 Trulli makes his first stop, handing the lead to Bourdais.

On lap 23 Fisichella pits from 13th, and is pushed into the garage.

On lap 24 Vettel pits from third place, returning in 8th.

On lap 25 Bourdais pits, a slow stop with a problem with the front right wheel, giving the lead to Piquet. Rubens Barrichello and Rosberg battling for 10th place.

On lap 28 Piquet pits from the lead, the last of the front-runner to stop, handing the lead back to his team mate Alonso.

On lap 29 Massa passes Button for 12th place.

At lap 30, Alonso leads Kubica by 7.8 seconds followed by Raikkonen (12.4s) in third, Webberm on a one-stop strategy (15.3s), Trulli (19.8s), Piquet (21.6s), Bourdais (23.1s), Vettel (28.1s), Heidfeld (32.1s) and Rosberg (44.6s) in tenth place - Massa (58.7s) in 12th and Hamilton (1m06.0s) in 14th place.

On lap 34 Hamilton passes Button for 13th place.

On lap 35 Webber, on a one-stop strategy makes his stop from fourth place, rejoining in tenth place - past half distance, drivers yet to pit: Nick Heidfeld, Rosberg, Barrichello and Jenson Button.

On lap 38 Nakajima pits, followed by Button the next lap, Barrichello on lap 40, Heidfeld on lap 41, and Hamilton on lap 42. On the track, Massa passes Webber for 10th place.

On lap 43 Rosberg pits from eighth place.

On lap 44 Alonso is the first of the front-runners to make his second stop from the lead, rejoining in sixth place.

On lap 47 Kubica pits, giving the lead to Raikkonen, rejoining in seventh place. Raikkonen pitting on lap 48, rejoining behind Kubica.

At lap 49 Trulli leads Piquet by 0.7s followed by Bourdais (6.5s) in third place (the first three yet to pit), followed by Alonso (11.8s), Vettel (16.9s), Kubica (20.7s), Raikkonen (21.8s), Massa (37.5s), Webber (56.2s) and Heidfeld (1m04.0s) in tenth place - Hamilton in 12th.

On lap 50 Trulli and Bourdais pit - Massa attempting to get by Bourdais as he rejoins into the first corner - the two touching and Massa spinning - but the two continue.

On lap 51 Vettel makes his final stop from third place, and Piquet pitting from the lead the next lap.

On lap 54 Massa makes his final stop from eighth, while on the track Kubica and Raikkonen battle for second place.

On lap 55 the officials announce that they will investigate the incident with Bourdais and Massa after the conclusion of the race.

At lap 55 Alonso was back out in the lead, 13.0 seconds ahead of Kubica, followed by Raikkonen (13.6s), Piquet (15.5s), Trulli (20.9s), Bourdais (28.6s), Vettel (35.9s), Webber (47.8s), Heidfeld ( 54.9s) and Massa (1m00.2s) in tenth place - Hamilton in 12th.

Piquet joins the battle between Kubica and Raikkonen for second place.

On lap 60 Massa passes Heidfeld for ninth place.

On lap 65 Massa battles with Webber down the front straight and into the first corner, the two nearly touching, with Massa taking over eighth place and the final point.

The order remained the same to the finish line.