Japanese GP Preview: Rubens Barrichello's Last Stand

Ravikumar RajagopalCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2009

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and Brawn GP celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on September 13, 2009 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The Japanese Grand Prix has traditionally been one of the last races on the calendar, and it has been the venue for many title-deciding races, with 12 World Champions being crowned over the 24 Japanese Grand Prix that have been hosted.

Now the race comes back to Suzuka after a two-year period when it was held at Fuji Speedway. The irony is that Suzuka is a track owned and operated by Honda and both drivers who are in contention for the title though maybe driving a Brawn GP car but still the car was very much funded by Honda before its exit from F1 and which led to the birth of Brawn GP.

Jenson Button can very much seal the title here but he is sure not to do anything hasty as with a 15-point lead, he is in a comfortable position and as long as he comings finishing ahead of Barrichello he can comfortably seal his title bid.

While Barrichello is one of the three previous winners on this circuit and have the best car among the three to repeat that feat will be going in for the kill as not only does he needs a win here, but he will also be hoping that Button fails to score points as it would reduce the deficit.

Though Brawn has giving hints that for 2010 he may retain both the drivers, there is a possibility of Brawn fielding a new lineup for the next season if Button’s contract talk fails while age is a factor for Barrichello.

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McLaren and Hamilton should be favourites on this track, as it is a very fast circuit, and after their win in Singapore, Hamilton would like to have a few more wins under his belt before the season gets over. He will also be interested in finishing ahead of Kimi in the drivers’ championship.

Kovalainen may not race for the team for the next season, but he has to put in a good performance if he wants to land a seat even with a mid-field team as the number of proven quality drivers on the market is plenty and race winnings seats are shrinking by the day.

His best bet would be Williams or even Renault but it all depends on other drivers plan or in the end he may end up racing for any of the four new teams.

Ferrari has finally made it official that Alonso would join the team for 2010 with Massa meaning both its current drivers Kimi and Fisi would not be racing for them in 2010. Though Fisi has signed on as a test driver, there is a good chance he may even drive for the Ferrari powered Sauber team for the next season while Kimi has plenty of options and his decision now can lead to how the other team shapes up their lineups.

It was in Ferrari in which Kimi won his world championship and he would like to go out in a bang in the remaining three races of the season.

Toyota has given enough signs that it will continue to be in F1 till 2010 but the future of both Glock and Trulli is uncertain. Glock did not even take part in the Friday practice as Japanese driver Kobayashi replace him but the team has confirmed that Glock will be racing for them in the grand prix.

Glock after his second place finish in Singapore will be brimming with confident and a few more podiums would seal a deal with a good team for the next season while Toyota themselves need a good performance during the weekend in order to entice any of the top drivers to join the team for the next season.

With talks of rains, Red Bull once again will be in a very favourable position as when it rains, no other team can come close to the bulls while Vettel is the rain master and he could once again be in the reckoning for the title if he wins the race and both Brawns fails to finish. But it all depends on the rain and in a rain race anything is possible.

Teammate Webber has been out of luck for the last few races and he would like to put that back and would want to finish the season on a high. Sister team, Toro Rosso has shown some improvement and don’t be too surprised if one its drivers actually score points in Suzuka.

Alonso and Renault had a lot of prove in Singapore and though he may be leaving the team, it was Renault which gave him two world championship and made him the start he is now and he would want to give something back by putting in some strong performances in the next three races as not only will it help the team secure some sponsorship for the next season but also get some high profile driver involve himself with the team.

BMW has showed steady progress in the last few races and with rumours of both its drivers leaving the team at the end of the season plus the new team of 2010 is not even assured of a spot on the grid though it is highly possible that not all the four teams will make it to the grid in Bahrain and the team will eventually make it.

But it will be interesting to see how the team performances for 2010 as will it continues to be a mid-runner or slip behind the likes of Toro Rosso and Force India.

Talking of Force India, ideally this circuit should favour them and once again make them in reckoning for point scoring positions but if the team does score points in Suzuka, the team has truly arrived and its performances in Monza and Spa were just not flash in the pan one off stroke of luck for the team.

With Flavio gone, Vijay Mallya would take over as being the most flamboyant man on the paddock and he surely wants his team to be a regular point scorer for the next season.

It should be a highly entertaining Japanese GP and when you add in the rain factor, it could be anyone’s race but then Red Bull would have some rain dancers as when it rains, Vettel is like a god on track.

Japanese GP Predictions: 1. Vettel 2. Hamilton 3. Kimi 4. Barrichello 5. Alonso 6. Rosberg 7. Button 8. Sutil