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The 2007 Japanese Grand Prix was the fifteenth race of the 2007 Formula One season. It was held on 30 September at the recently revised Fuji Speedwaymarker, Oyama, Shizuokamarker, in very heavy rain and misty conditions. For 20 years the Japanese Grand Prix was held at Suzukamarker, but in 2007 it returned to Fuji for the first time since 1977. Pole position, the fastest lap and the race itself were all won by Lewis Hamilton, who extended his lead in the championship to 12 points over Fernando Alonso with 2 races remaining.

Pre-race

Lewis Hamilton of McLarenmarker led the Drivers' Championship by only 2 points from team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was a further 11 points ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen.

After McLaren's exclusion from the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari had been confirmed as Constructors' Champions, following their Belgian Grand Prix one-two. They were 71 points ahead of BMW Sauber.

Three Japanesemarker constructors and two Japanese drivers competed in the race. Toyota were 6th in the Constructors' Championship, whilst Honda were 8th, behind their own "B-team" Super Aguri. Takuma Sato was 15th in the Drivers' Championship for Super Aguri, whilst compatriot Sakon Yamamoto had yet to score for Spyker F1, having debuted at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Race Summary

Due to torrential rainfall, the race was started under the safety car, which led the field for the first 19 laps. The Ferraris of Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa were forced to pit during the first few laps after starting on standard wet tyres, as opposed to "extreme wet" tyres, which were a requirement in the treacherously wet conditions. Ferrari boss Jean Todt later stated that the team were not informed about the requirements prior to the race, although all other teams were.

The Ferraris dropped back to 20th and 21st positions respectively following the pitstops, and Massa pitted again on lap 15. When the safety car finally left the circuit, the two McLarens began the race proper at the head of the field, in front of a quick-starting Sebastian Vettel. The Toro Rosso driver had clinched 3rd place from Nick Heidfeld, after the latter collided with Jenson Button's Honda. Mark Webber reached 4th place during the first racing lap as a result of the collision. A first-corner spin caused Alexander Wurz to collide heavily with Felipe Massa's Ferrari. Wurz's car sustained heavy damage and he retired on the spot.

Later in the race, Fernando Alonso crashed out. The reigning World Champion blamed aquaplaning for the accident, which once again brought out the safety car. During this safety car period on lap 45, third-placed Sebastian Vettel collided with second-placed Webber in the wet conditions. This collision put Heikki Kovalainen's Renaultmarker in 2nd place, which he managed to hold until the end of the race, despite repeated overtaking attempts by Kimi Räikkönen. The Ferrari driver would eventually finish third, ahead of David Coulthard in fourth for Red Bull Racing.

On the final lap, Felipe Massa prevailed in a spectacular battle with BMW driver Robert Kubica. The Polemarker had previously served a drive through penalty for colliding with Hamilton. Massa finished 6th, and Kubica 7th, behind Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault. Vitantonio Liuzzi finished in 8th, scoring the first 2007 championship points for Toro Rosso. However, these points were later removed when Liuzzi was penalised for overtaking Adrian Sutil under waved yellow flags. This promoted Sutil to 8th, giving him and the Spyker team their first F1 points.

Post-race

Following the race, Sebastian Vettel was facing a 10-place penalty for the next race in Shanghai, Chinamarker, for causing the collision with Mark Webber which put both drivers out of the race, but this punishment was reduced to a reprimand. When new evidence was presented to the FIA, it began an investigation of Lewis Hamilton for dangerous driving and causing the collision himself. Hamilton was leading the race right in front of Webber, before suddenly braking and forcing Webber to follow suit lest he be penalised for overtaking behind the safety car; the collision occurred when Vettel's car ran into the back of Webber. Hamilton might have faced either disqualification or a grid penalty for the next race, but the FIA decided not to impose any penalty.

Problems with the Circuit

The event had a lot of problems such as the paralysis of the transportation network provided by the shuttle buses, poor facilities including some reserved seats without a view, lack of organization, and expensive meals that meant a simple lunch-box was sold for 10,000 yen (US$87) at the circuit.

Transportation

The free practice session on Saturday was abandoned due to the fog, which grounded the Medical Helicopter, after repeated delays. Only three drivers set a time in four minutes: Alexander Wurz (Williams-Toyota), Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota).

Before the race, there were suggestions that the plan of carrying all of the 100,000 spectators or more only by shuttle bus would be impossible. To relieve people's doubts, the circuit was said that there was complete preparation for the race. These doubts were realised when, after the qualifying session on Saturday, the shuttle buses could not leave because the road on the east gate of the circuit sank around 16:00. As a result, approximately 20,000 spectators were forced to stay for four hours or more until 21:00. As for the race on Sunday only the shuttle bus was admitted for spectators as transport.

Refund

View from controversial 'C' stand.
On Sunday morning, the circuit announced that they would refund spectators who had bought seats in the reserved seat area on 'C' stand, near the first corner. This was due to the low visibility which meant that the cars on the racing line were not seen at all. The cost of the tickets, 50,000 yen (US$435), was scheduled to be reimbursed to 7,000 people who were in the stand. The total cost of the refund is expected to be around 350 million yen (US$3 million). After the race on Sunday, the circuit held the press conference to apologise for problems and announced that they would refund another 85 spectators who did not arrive at the circuit until after the start of the race, at 13:30, due to the delay of the shuttle bus. The circuit said that they would reimburse them for all the costs caused by watching the race: the transportation expenses, hotel charges and the cost of the tickets etc.

Toyota bias

The circuit, Fuji Speedwaymarker, prohibited the spectators from setting up the flags and banners supporting the teams and drivers, with the exception of the Toyota F1 team whose owner also owned the circuit. Therefore, there were very few flags and banners in the event compared with other Grand Prix events. After the event, Japanese media people, like Jun Imamiya, a Fuji TVmarker F1 commentator, and Tetsuo Tsugawa, a Fuji TV F1 commentator and a former mechanic for Benetton Formula (now Renault), criticised the organization of the circuit. Tsugawa mentioned:

On the other hand, there was a high evaluation by the visitors of the paddock. Though there were a lot of problems and the Grand Prix was criticized very much during the event, the Team Principal of Toyota F1, Tadashi Yamashina praised the event:

From 2009, the Japanese Grand Prix will alternate between Fuji and the Suzuka Circuit. It has been suggested that this may help to prevent future shows of such flagrant parochialism.

Lawsuit

On 16 June 2008, 109 spectators went to Tokyo District Court and took an action against the circuit to claim total 32 million yen (US$295,500) in compensation for the bad health and missing the race by transportation problem of the shuttle buses.

Classification

Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton of McLarenmarker-Mercedes started from pole ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso. He is the second man to qualify on pole in F1 at Fujimarker after Mario Andretti in 1976 and 1977. For the third consecutive race, both positions on the front row were occupied by team-mates. 6th place is Jenson Button's best qualifying position of the year and his best since the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix for Honda. Sebastian Vettel's 8th position is Scuderia Toro Rosso's best ever qualifying position, although higher positions had been attained by the team in its previous guise of Minardi. Qualifying was run on a wet track, although no rain was falling. All drivers used wet tyres.
Pos Name Team/Engine Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
1 Lewis Hamilton McLarenmarker-Mercedes 1:25.489 1:24.753 1:25.368
2 Fernando Alonso McLarenmarker-Mercedes 1:25.379 1:24.806 1:25.438
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:25.390 1:24.988 1:25.516
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.359 1:25.049 1:25.765
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:25.971 1:25.248 1:26.505
6 Jenson Button Honda 1:26.614 1:25.454 1:26.913
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renaultmarker 1:25.970 1:25.535 1:26.914
8 Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:26.025 1:25.909 1:26.973
9 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:26.300 1:25.530 1:27.225
10 Giancarlo Fisichella Renaultmarker 1:26.909 1:26.033
11 Heikki Kovalainen Renaultmarker 1:27.223 1:26.232
12 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renaultmarker 1:26.904 1:26.247
13 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:26.711 1:26.253
14 Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:27.234 1:26.948
15 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:27.191 no time†
16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.579 1:25.816 1:26.728
17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:27.323
18 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:27.454
19 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:27.564
20 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:28.628
21 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:28.762
22 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 1:29.668


  • Ralf Schumacher had no car during the second session of qualifying as he crashed into the back of Sakon Yamamoto at the end of the first session.
  • ‡ During Friday morning practice, Williams decided to change Nico Rosberg's engine, giving him a 10-place grid penalty for the race.


Race

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Lewis Hamilton McLarenmarker-Mercedes 67 2:00:34.579 1 10
2 4 Heikki Kovalainen Renaultmarker 67 +8.377 secs 11 8
3 6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 67 +9.478 secs 3 6
4 14 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renaultmarker 67 +20.297 secs 12 5
5 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Renaultmarker 67 +38.864 secs 10 4
6 5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 67 +49.042 secs 4 3
7 10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 67 +49.285 secs 9 2
8 20 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 67 +1:00.129 secs 20 1
9 18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 67 +1:20.622 secs 14
10 8 Rubens Barrichello Honda 67 +1:28.342 secs 17
11 7 Jenson Button Honda 66 Suspension 6
12 21 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari 66 +1 lap 22
13 12 Jarno Trulli Toyota 66 +1 lap 13
14 9 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 65 Technical 5
15 22 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 65 Collision 21
Ret 11 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 55 Puncture 15
Ret 23 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 54 Throttle 19
Ret 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 49 Electronics 16
Ret 19 Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 46 Collision 8
Ret 15 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renaultmarker 45 Collision 7
Ret 1 Fernando Alonso McLarenmarker-Mercedes 41 Accident 2
Ret 17 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota 19 Collision 18




Notes



References



External links



Endnotes


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