Scuderia Ferrari comes away from Japan with the points for fifth after Kimi made up that same number of places off the grid. From the outset, Sebastian Vettel was robbed of any chance to fight for the win, when a spark plug on one cylinder failed. However, Kimi’s performance proved that the team and the car are capable of getting the job done and until the maths says it’s over, we will keep trying.
Moving on to the race: it started wth Seb on the right side alongside Hamilton, with Kimi tenth, after taking a penalty for the gearbox change between P3 and qualifying. Seb got off the line well, but not well enough to take the lead, as Kimi maintained position, before dropping down the order after running off track, while dueling with Hulkenberg. But on Seb’s car there was already a problem with the ignition and he lost one place on the opening lap. The Safety Car came out after Sainz crashed and Sebastian was sixth and losing ground. The number 5 car was called back into the pits and the mechanics tried to fix the problem. However, a few minutes later Seb climbed out of the cockpit. A spark plug was broken and it was pointless to go on.
Meanwhile, having started on the Soft tyres he had used in Q2, Kimi found himself eighth, 18 seconds off the lead. He passed Massa on lap 14 and kept chasing. By lap 28, he was fourth before pitting for Supersofts and rejoining in sixth. At the start of lap 33, he set his sights on Hulkenberg and passed him. From then on, he managed the fuel and tyres in the closing stages, also putting in some very quick laps, while the Virtual Safety Car came out with four laps remaining. With two cars on track, it would have been a different story.
Kimi comments about the race
“Our starting position today was not ideal. I did a decent start on the soft tires and in the first lap I tried to gain some positions, but when I attempted to pass a Renault I ran wide and lost some places; so I had to make them back. The feeling in the car was a little bit tricky all the way through the race, not the nicest balance; some laps were ok, some others a bit more difficult. It’s quite tricky to follow other cars on this track; we did a fairly good job out of overtaking people but we were too far from those at the front. Obviously, the final result is far from being the best possible. As for Sebastian, I don’t know what happened; we have made a lot of improvements over the last few years as a team, but now, for whatever reason, we suddenly seem to have technical issues coming out from nothing. It’s kind of weird, our cars are running perfectly and suddenly on Sunday there is an problem that nobody expects. There is some work to be done on that side. Then we are going to push until the last lap of the last race and we’ll see where we end up.”