Japanese F1 Grand Prix 2013: 5 Key Storylines to Watch at Suzuka
An incident-packed Korean Grand Prix that saw two safety cars, a flaming Red Bull, dicing Lotuses and another Sebastian Vettel victory means that all eyes will be on Japan this weekend.
Not only is Suzuka a favourite amongst fans and drivers alike due to its challenging nature, there are several key storylines to watch out for.
So without further ado, here they are.
Raikkonen vs. Grosjean Part II
One of the major talking points following the Korean Grand Prix was Romain Grosjean’s annoyance that he was not allowed his second place back after teammate Kimi Raikkonen passed him towards the end of the race.
Grosjean had been running a strong second until the safety car period but a slight mistake allowed Raikkonen past. But unlike in Britain and Germany where Grosjean was ordered to surrender track position, the Frenchman was told to keep racing.
After an indifferent season, it appears as though Grosjean is now finding some late-season form, keen to prove himself as the Lotus No. 1 in light of Raikkonen’s imminent departure and the likely arrival of Nico Hulkenberg, reported by BBC Sport.
It will be interesting to see who gets the upper hand in Japan.
Will the Hulk Be Incredible Again?
Talking of the likelihood of Hulkenberg moving to Lotus, it will be fascinating to see how the Sauber driver fares in Japan.
The German has enjoyed a stellar season in distinctly average machinery culminating in a brilliant drive to fourth in Japan. He too is eager to keep up the momentum and force his potential employers' hand into offering him the contract he wants before the month is out.
Can Alonso Keep Up the Pressure?
One thing we know about Fernando Alonso by now is that he never gives up the fight until the final race.
The Spaniard took the title fight to the wire last year, and, although it all seems done and dusted barring a minor miracle, I expect Alonso to come out all guns blazing in Japan.
How Will Pirelli’s Tyres Hold Up?
Yet again Pirelli came under fire after the Korean Grand Prix following another spectacular tyre delamination on Sergio Perez’s McLaren.
It’s not the first time this season such a delamination has happened to Perez, a similar blowout ending his Silverstone race. And the Mexican told Autosport that enough is enough.
It is obviously very frustrating if you fight a car for more than one lap or two, you destroy your tyre. It means if you are in to a certain strategy you will not complete that strategy, so you have to change things. It just makes it tricky. But what is totally unacceptable is that we see tyres exploding. So I think that is totally unacceptable from teams and drivers definitely.
Pirelli had brought the supersoft and medium tyre compound to Korea but have decided to stick with last year’s medium and hard compounds for Japan as the tyres will be tested to their limits due to the very high average cornering speeds.
Let’s hope they hold up to the test.
Will Vettel Wrap Things Up?
You didn’t think I’d forgotten did you? The question on everyone’s lips will be whether Sebastian Vettel will wrap his fourth successive drivers’ title in Japan.
A win seems highly likely as not only is Vettel on a roll, but he loves the demanding Suzuka circuit and won there last time out.
But it appears he will have to wait until after Japan to be crowned world champion once again as he also needs Fernando Alonso to finish lower than eight, and that is as unlikely as a Vettel win is likely.