Japan GP: A Frantic First Lap at Fuji Sees Fernando Alonso to a Win
A chaotic first lap at Fuji Speedway threw all expectations for the championship into the air.
Lewis Hamilton, who drove well in qualifying to take pole, looked set to solidify his lead over Felipe Massa. However, he made some very serious errors in the first two laps of the race.
First, Hamilton made a horrendous start and let Kimi Raikkonen get the jump on him into the first corner.
In the frenzy to retake the lead, he then went on to force his own teammate, Heikki Kovalainen, as well as the two Ferrari's of Raikkonen and Massa, wide at the end of the first corner.
Robert Kubica, and Fernando Alonso took advantage of the situation, with the BMW taking the lead and the Renault snatching second.
David Coulthard had a fairly large accident just after the first corner, yet another DNF for the experienced driver.
On the second lap, Hamilton and Massa found themselves in a heated battle for precious championship points. Massa, desperate for position, jumped the inside of the corner and clipped Hamilton's car at turn 11, spinning the British driver, and seemingly ruining his race and relegating him to the back of the field.
In lieu of the incident, race control slapped Felipe Massa with a drive-through penalty for causing the McLaren to spin. Surprisingly, Hamilton was also assigned the same penalty for pushing Raikkonen wide on the first corner.
Meanwhile, Robert Kubica sprinted away with the lead, with Alonso following. As the BMW driver is still considered viable in the championship standings, he would do well to finish on the podium and throw the title further into contention.
After serving their penalties, Massa and Hamilton were both out of the points, running 13th and 15th, respectively.
Following the first round of pit stops, Alonso moved to take the lead from Kubica. The Spaniard, while out of the points, asserted his status as a former two-time world champion by racing hard.
As Hamilton took 13th just behind Massa, Alonso drove hard to spead the gap in front of Kubica to more than 10 seconds.The Renault driver would drive well for the rest of the race to take the top step of the podium yet again—and this time without the aid of the safety car.
A determined Kimi Raikkonen ran well in third, and with Hamilton out of the points and Kovalainen out of the race due to an unexpected engine failure, was set to score some valuable manufacturer points for Scuderia Ferrari.
With 17 laps left, Bourdais spun Massa while coming out of the pits—a hint of instant karma perhaps? The incident is set to be reviewed after the race.
Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen mixed it up in an exciting battle with just 14 laps to go. The two drivers running side by side and within inches of each other. Both drove exemplary well, held it together, and no incident occured.
In the closing stages of the race, Felipe Massa in ninth hunted down Red Bull's Mark Webber for that valuable last championship point that is awared to 8th place. The Red Bull's tires having worn down to almost nothing, Webber had little chance of holding off the Ferrari.
The results: Fernando Alonso took the top podium spot in a well deserved victory, Robert Kubica drove superbly, defended his position and held on for second, and Kimi Raikkonen, though no longer a contender for the title, took third.
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