Three Red Flags, Six Crashes, and Five Penalized Before Japanese Grand Prix

I3odaciousCorrespondent IOctober 3, 2009

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 03:  Heikki Kovalainen of Finland and McLaren Mercedes drives during qualifying for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 3, 2009 in Suzuka, Japan.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

This weekend has with no doubt been one of the strangest grand prix weekends of the 2009 season. 

With heavy rain impeding the drivers from collecting valuable data during the first two practice sessions it became clear during qualifying that the third practice session on Saturday, although dry, was not enough for many drivers to come to grips with their ideal car setups as well as the track itself in dry conditions.

Thus far, Mark Webber, Sebastien Buemi (twice), Timo Glock, Jaime Alguesuari, and Heikki Kovalainen have all had off track excursions. Three of which brought on red flags during qualifying, forcing drivers to abort their laps or postpone their exit from the pits while the track was cleaned up and cars craned out.

The most controversial crash of them all was Buemi's second of the session which brought out a yellow flag at the end of Q2 when Barrichello, Button, Alonso, and Sutil were all dashing to the finish line in an attempt to squeeze through into Q3.

The aforementioned drivers failed to slow down in a timely fashion and were each handed five grid spot penalties as a result. Buemi was also given a five spot penalty due to entering the pits after his crash thus blocking other drivers.

This event will most likely radically change the result of Sunday's race as cars that are much heavier on fuel will now be moved up the grid considerably changing strategies up and down the grid. 

Below are the race weights and grid positions prior to the penalty.