Alonso takes victory number two in Fuji

Alonso Fuji winner 2008

Double world champion Fernando Alonso scored his second consecutive Formula One victory – his twenty-first in his career – with an impressive display in the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway.

The Renault driver benefitted from the two championship contenders, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, when the pair was both compromised with drive-through penalties in the incident-packed race.

The McLaren driver was accused of pushing off Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner with his desperate late braking move, while the Brazilian was given the penalty when he collided with Lewis at the chicane… Both were able to continue and it was Felipe who managed to pick up points with eighth. Hamilton finished outside the points with a frustrating 12th.

But it was Alonso who took the winner’s trophy after his flawless performance in the R28. The Spaniard was lapping with so much consistency that he was able to leapfrog ahead of Robert Kubica by making his first fuel/tyre stop one lap later than his BMW Sauber rival. That extra pace made the differences for Alonso to see off the challenges of Kubica and the reigning world champion of Kimi Raikkonen to the chequered flag.

This race victory at Fuji follows on from the Spaniard’s breakthrough win at Singapore’s night race last month. But instead of the Safety Car giving him the helping hand, Alonso won the Japanese Grand Prix by pure speed alone and that is an impressive achievement, especially if you consider how the team/car performed earlier this season.

Robert Kubica kept himself in title contention by finishing in second, fending off the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who was hit by both McLarens at the start of the race! Luckily, the Finn took evasive action with the tyre-smoking Lewis Hamilton at turn one and was able to escape a penalty when race stewards were investigating the first lap incident…

That first lap was highly controversial as it made a heavy impact in terms of the drivers’ championship.

Lewis Hamilton threw away his hard-earned pole position the instant the five red lights went out as Kimi Raikkonen (who started alongside) out-accelerated him. Not for the first time, Lewis seemed to lose focus with his risky ‘do-or-die’ move at the first turn to recapture the lead and that ‘moment’ could be the factor that might cost Lewis his world championship campaign…

As he dived for the inside, smoke pouring from his locked wheels in a desperate bid to get back the lead (he flat-spotted both Bridgestone in this move). He made no attempt to take the corner due to his excessive speed. In a brief moment of despair Lewis nearly collided into his own McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen on the run down to the first corner, determined to regain his lost lead. In turn one, Lewis ran wide forcing both him and Kimi Raikkonen on the outside. Felipe Massa, who started in fifth, and Kovalainen both went off in avoidance.

That first-corner chaos allowed Kubica and Alonso to slip into first and second ahead of the recovering Kovalainen, while Massa, Hamilton and Raikkonen fell back into the traffic.

On the next lap, Massa ran wide into the Turn 10 chicane and seeking the opportunity from his title rival, Lewis slip past to take the position. But then the Brazilian fought back with two wheels on the kerb and two wheels on the grass and he accidently (Felipe claims after the race that it was a ‘racing incident’) punted Hamilton into a spin and down to last place…

Both Hamilton and Massa would later receive drive-through penalties for their respective aggressive moves, consigning the title contenders to unproductive afternoons in the midfield.

After the Grand Prix, Felipe Massa denies deliberately hitting Hamilton and saying it was a ‘racing incident’, and questioned whether he deserved his own penalty(!)

“He (Hamilton) braked very late and I braked very late, and then I was a little bit wide in the first part of the corner,” explained Massa. “Then he had my inside line and pushed me a little bit wide in the gravel, and then I went with the wheels on the gravel but the next corner was on the left.

“Then we just touched each other, so in my opinion it was a racing incident.

“But we had a drive-through and we paid, and it is a bit difficult to speak after the race when we have already had the drive-through.”

Asked whether he had crashed into Hamilton deliberately, Massa replied: “For sure not, I had two wheels on the gravel. I could not stop the car and I was on the gravel because he pushed me into the gravel.”

As for Lewis Hamilton, he regrets that first corner move as a ‘mistake’ and vowed to recover by winning the remaining two Grands Prix for the championship.

“You can always look back and wish you’d done something (differently) – I made a mistake and I paid for it,” Hamilton told reporters. “That sort of thing happens, you’ve just got to keep your head up and keep going.”

But while he admitted his move on Raikkonen was incorrect, Hamilton was not happy that he received an equal penalty to Massa.

“We both got the same penalty, but I didn’t hit anyone and he did,” he said. “I guess that’s just the name of the game.”

These two incidents have made an impact to the drivers’ standings following the race at Fuji, with Massa reducing the deficit to Hamilton from seven to six points. The McLaren driver still has 84, while the Brazilian has 78 points with two races left.

Meanwhile in the constructors’ championship, the non-finish for Heikki Kovalainen – who was delayed at the first corner and was on course for race victory but was forced to stop early by mechanical failure – meant Ferrari regained the lead thanks to Kimi Raikkonen’s third-place finish. The Scuderia Ferrari leads McLaren-Mercedes by five points (141 over 135) with BMW Sauber a close behind with 128 points.

As for the top ten finishers in this Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway, Nelson Piquet Jr capped off his difficult rookie season with a fine fourth. At one point, he was leading the race and time will tell if the young Brazilian can keep his seat at Renault next year.

Jarno Trulli drove a strong race all afternoon to finish in fifth at Toyota’s home circuit.

Scuderia Toro Rosso got both cars into the points, with Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel coming home in sixth and seventh position, ahead of the recovering Massa, who at least reduced Hamilton’s lead to six points.

The Brazilian managed to salvage a point despite spinning when he banged wheels with Bourdais as the Toro Rosso rejoined following its final pit stop – an incident that will be investigated by the stewards after the race.

The Ferrari survived that tangle and produced a series of late passes to claim eighth, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber his final target. The Australian had driven well on a one-stop strategy, but couldn’t fend off Massa in the closing moments of the race.

Nick Heidfeld also used a one-stop plan to progress to tenth, but must be disappointed by the lack of pace compared to team-mate Robert Kubica.

The sole Japanese driver in the 20-car field, Kazuki Nakajima, saw his first home race ruined at the start, when he lost his front wing on David Coulthard’s Red Bull as it veered across his path after a dramatic suspension breakage. Coulthard, who suspected his suspension had been weakened in the first corner wheel-banging chaos, slammed into the barriers but was unhurt.

Next weekend is the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Only six points separate the two title contenders and already Lewis Hamilton is stating the fact that he will win the race following his disappointing performance at Fuji. Providing he doesn’t make another mistake like last year or take any risks, the McLaren driver should have the advantage as this exciting season of Formula One racing draws to a close. Only Ferrari can prevent Lewis on winning the title and it will be fascinating to see what happens in seven days time!

Race results from Fuji Speedway, 67 laps:

1. Alonso Renault 1h30:21.892
2. Kubica BMW Sauber +5.283
3. Raikkonen Ferrari +6.400
4. Piquet Renault +20.570
5. Trulli Toyota +23.767
6. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +34.085
7. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari +39.207
8. Massa Ferrari +46.158
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault +50.811
10. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +54.120
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +1:02.096
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +1:18.900
13. Barrichello Honda +1 lap
14. Button Honda +1 lap
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +1 lap

Fastest lap: Massa, 1:18.426

Not classified/retirements:

Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 22 laps
Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 17 laps
Sutil Force India-Ferrari 9 laps
Glock Toyota 7 laps
Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1 lap

World Championship standings, round 16:


1. Hamilton 84
2. Massa 78
3. Kubica 72
4. Raikkonen 63
5. Heidfeld 56
6. Kovalainen 51
7. Alonso 48
8. Trulli 30
9. Vettel 29
10. Glock 20
11. Webber 20
12. Piquet 18
13. Rosberg 17
14. Barrichello 11
15. Nakajima 9
16. Coulthard 8
17. Bourdais 7
18. Button 3


1. Ferrari 141
2. McLaren-Mercedes 135
3. BMW Sauber 128
4. Renault 66
5. Toyota 50
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 36
7. Red Bull-Renault 28
8. Williams-Toyota 26
9. Honda 14

Next race: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai International Circuit, October 17-19

10 thoughts to “Alonso takes victory number two in Fuji”

  1. BREAKING NEWS: Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais has had 25 seconds added to his Japanese Grand Prix race time as penalty for making contact with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The stewards’ decision drops Bourdais from sixth to 10th in the results and elevates Massa to seventh.

    Bourdais was rejoining the race after his second pit stop on lap 50 when Massa attempted to pass around the outside at Turn One. The pair made contact, tipping the Brazilian into a spin. Massa subsequently continued, finishing in eighth place.

    The penalty means Bourdais’ team mate Sebastian Vettel moves up to sixth place ahead of Massa, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber picks up a point for eighth. It also means Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead over Massa is cut to just five points.

    Sebastien Bourdais believes Felipe Massa was completely to blame for their collision at Fuji – even though the stewards decided to penalise Bourdais for the collision.

    The Toro Rosso driver was given a 25-second penalty after the race and fell from sixth to 10th, while Massa was consequently elevated from eighth to seventh.

    The two cars had come together as Bourdais rejoined after his final pitstop. He pulled out alongside Massa, who tried to drive around the outside of the Toro Rosso at the first corner, only to spin after contact between them.

    Bourdais was adamant that Massa was at fault for the incident.

    “For me it’s very clear. Yes, I exit the pits, yes I’m supposed to be careful and I was,” he said. “I stayed inside and I didn’t push him out, I didn’t overshoot the corner.

    “I did everything I could not to run into him and he just squeezed and turned and behaved like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t there. What am I supposed to do?

    “I’ve been in this position many, many times and I never had any incidents. It’s just a little bit of respect, you give each other room and then everything goes right, but if you don’t for sure it’s going to be an incident.”

    The Frenchman added that he would have behaved differently to Massa had he been the one challenging for the title.

    “I’ve been in this position many times, especially the position he is in fighting for championships and you just don’t take unnecessary risks like this,” said Bourdais.

    “You’ve got everything to lose and nothing to gain. He was going to pit in three laps, I was ahead of him and he was going to finish behind us anyway. Why would you even think about doing something like that? I don’t understand.”

    Despite feeling he was blameless in the incident, Bourdais wasn’t surprised to receive a penalty.

    “No, because every time I get called to the (stewards) meeting rooms, one way or the other it goes against me,” he said.

    “I don’t know why, I don’t know what I’ve done. I don’t think I have done anything wrong on this one and unfortunately it ruins the weekend, takes away three points for the team and gives Felipe another point – I am really happy for him, obviously!

    “I don’t know what I was supposed to do basically. I could have unrolled the red carpet and given him the corner. That is the only thing I could have done.”

    Source: and

  2. OK so now we are going to have the usual panic after the hosres has bolted by the F1 and stewards in regards to penalties. And now everyone is going to complain about the decisions. Now having said that, I did think Lewis’ penalty was absurd. It was a first corner and you cant penalize every driver that out breaks himself, or you’d have to punish everything, and so devoid the each meeting of some called RACING!!!!! I will study the highlights and see if Lewis forced Massa off the track as was mentioned by him after the race. But at the time I didn’t see anything wrong. At this rate I can see a time where we’ll be having the race, then have the whole race scrutinised for days after, and not know the winner till the next meeting.

    I mean we have precious little overtaking as it is. What does the F1 want, a ten metre gap between overtaking cars?! Unfair advantages left till the next race before taking back the place?!

    You know what all this hammer bashing is leading to don’t you? The F1 going to standadise the cars. There’s talk of engines, and gearboxes, and soon we will have std aero packages I think(?) Then they can say, “we are in complete control to help us with enforcing the rules and regulations”. This will in fact lead to worse things as drivers do what they can to overtake and we’ll still be moaning at the stewards. Either that or it really will be a presession and dull as ditch water racing. The F1 really don’t have a clucking clue, and never mind a car package shake up, we need a rule and staff shake up.

    Anyways, a great win for Alonso and Renault, and a 3rd for Kimi, Sorry Kubica, don’t really care for you. Don’t know why, just don’t, soz

  3. Hey Elton your boy won again, is he having his weatabix in the mornings or what. Interesting in the race analysis they were talking about Raiki and how his whole season should be questioned, I agree.

    Hamilton is a young n00b, I’m not surprised he is making silly mistakes the pressure is very high and if we’re being honest its only his second season in F1. He famously bluffed last season he lost it. He’s making silly mistakes again and holding on by pure luck. He’s lucky he’s fighting against Massa, any other half decent opponent would have sewn it up by now. What is it with British sportsman they always need to have hollywood film type matches or races. They know they should win they have the means to do it but always leave it for the climax, bring back shuie! lol

    What cracked me up was Nelson Piquet catching up to Raiki and Kubica and being 1 second faster than them. The racing has definitely got more exciting lately.

    I deffo think Bourdais was screwed by Massa but good job by Alonso.

  4. Who would have thought that Renault would end up having one of the quickest cars if not actually the quickest ( Alonso did 19.1s on hard tyres and had no need to push on his softs at the last stint – Piquet was there or thereabouts, too, shame he couldn’t keep it on the road).

    Almost any other year Lewis would have got away with his “misjudgement” but in the current political climate he must have known the stewards would fall on him like a ton of bricks.

    At Spa Massa was adamant Hamilton’s penalty was deserved but having acknowledged he himself “…had 2 wheels on the gravel…” seem to think he doesn’t have to give up the place after cutting the corner…. . The fact that he thought he was forced off the track ( from what I can see he ran so wide that by the time he sorted it out, the line he wished to take was already occupied by the McLaren) had never been accepted as a defence anyway, as the other driver would then be penalised instead (look at that first corner incident!).

    Massa will just have to console himself that the FIA has “magicked” an extra point for him to tighten up the title chase.
    How the stewards can deem Boudais to be any more culpable than Massa for the collision is unfathomable. Ahead on entry, Boudais simply held as tight a line as he could, complete with 2 wheels on the inside curb. I couldn’t see him running wide prior to the contact ( we could do with the on board footage, please!) . He had no place to go whereas Massa had the whole of the rest of the track to run round the outside with.
    I do accept however, that Massa was on a charge and as such his mindset would be running on very thin margins when it comes to risks. It’s a racing incident . It would have been thoroughly unjust if Massa had been punished over it and is definitely “nuts” to strip 3 valuable points off Boudais and his team.


  5. Thanks for the comments guys. What a difference a year makes in terms of fortune for Lewis Hamilton. Back in 2007, he drove a masterful race in heavy rain and left the Fuji circuit with 17 points. He still lost the championship despite the advantage. Is history about to repeat itself? The McLaren driver is now five points ahead with Felipe Massa – his main title contender – benefitting from that outrageous 25-second penalty with Bourdais. His mistake at the first corner was pure desperation and looking at the TV replay, it was Heikki Kovalainen (not Lewis) who pushed Kimi Raikkonen further off-track…

    As for the incident on lap two, there seem to be a divided opinion whether Massa deliberately crashed into his rival. Personally, I believe it was a ‘racing incident’ as Hamilton left no room for the Brazilian to go. Sure, Felipe took the grass to make it around the corner but I don’t think he hit the McLaren on purpose. The comment that Lewis made to the press after the race seems to be he is quite paranoid about the whole ordeal.

    And what about the incident with the Toro Rosso and the Ferrari? Well, I think the race stewards was quite harsh on Bourdais. The Champ Car champion summed it perfectly with this quote: “What was I supposed to do? Roll out the red carpet?”

    Moving on, the race winner Fernando Alonso is quoted to saying he will help Massa as much as possible to win the championship. Very interesting to hear the double world champion expressing his feelings AGAINST his former team…

    Read more here:

    And don’t forget, BMW’s Robert Kubica is not that far behind in the drivers’ standings and the Polish driver could spring a surprise in the remaining Grands Prix. The BMW Sauber team have assured Kubica that they will do all they can to win the world championship this year, after the Pole’s second place in Japan put him back in title contention.

    See the article here:

    Let’s see what happens in China this coming weekend. Hopefully some clean racing as these penalties are driving me crazy!

  6. Dubious penalty on Bourdias, Not sure how relevant one point is going to be in the end but all the better as far as I’m concerned. As long as the arrogant git doesn’t win I wouldn’t care about dubious penalties or Ferrari bias.

  7. Following the criticism that some of the penalties served to drivers during the Japanese Grand Prix seem unjustified, Formula One Management (FOM) has published a montage of footage showing new angles of the incidents – including onboard with Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa.

    Check out this video clip:

    Very interesting to see the multiple-angles, in particular the onboard shots.

  8. Now I know Janus is not a Lewis fan, and tbo my opinion of him is dwindling a little by his recent attitude. If he romped and anniliated everyone, ie Shuey, then you could forgive him. Shuey was way more arrogant though. But bias rulings has and will ruin F1 and all but Massa Vs Lewis penalty were a fracking joke but never thought Massa did it deliberately. No way was Lewis pushing Kimi as bad as was made out, and Bourdais was completely shat over by the stewards.

    This year, which started as one of the best ever, is fasting becoming yet another joke year for F1. I really dont care who wins this year, but no way are the stewards straight and fair. Not in a millions frick’n years and not matter what you do to the sport, these p***ks will always make it a farce. Unfortunately, with resorting to weeks of appealing and what not, I cant see anything changing it. How sad.

  9. Nice of the FOM to release the footage but the glaring omission of Boudais’ in-car shots, ones that would shed far more light on the incident, would tend to suggest the stewards might be in danger of being embarrassed by them if released. ( or am I just being cynical 🙂 )

    Rather then having repeats I would have preferred to see in car footage from Kimi and Kova also, though unlike the Massa/Boudais clash, the other angles do give a clear view of the whole incident already.

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