The Japanese Grand Prix has provided many exciting races and title showdowns in the past, but has this year’s event lived up to these high expectations? You said absolutely not, with a resounding NO! But just how bad was it, and how did it compare to previous years?

2013 – TJ13 reader score – 6.01


Sebastian Vettel took his 35th career victory, his fifth in a row and his 4th win in five years at Suzuka after a tactical battle with his team-mate Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean. It was probably the best race of Romain’s career, who managed to jump both Red Bulls and lead into the first corner. Hamilton tried to follow but his rear tyre was clipped by Vettel’s front wing end fence, resulting in an instant puncture, dropping him out of the running.

Romain managed to keep his lead until the second set of pitstops, when Mark Webber pushed hard and employed the undercut to perfection. Vettel managed to extend his tyre stint by driving conservatively, pitting much later than the two cars ahead. He rejoined in third position, but his fresher rubber would prove critical. He pressurised Grosjean and passed with DRS assistance into the first corner.

When Mark realised his tyres were not going to last to the end of the race, he pitted again dropping behind Grosjean in third. He aggressively pursued the Lotus driver, making an ambitious (and unsuccessful) lunge into Spoon curve. He finally managed to make a move stick into turn one, but it was too late for him to chase down the imperious Vettel.

2014 – TJ13 reader score – 5.42

Last year saw F1’s blackest weekend since Imola in 1994. The torrential rain saw the race start behind the safety car, with Nico Rosberg heading the pack, before realising that the standing water was too deep for the cars to run safely. The race was postponed for 20 minutes and at the restart Lewis Hamilton tucked in close behind his team-mate but was unable to jump him. He didn’t have to wait until the pitstops to pass as he managed to find a way around the outside into turn one. Daniel Ricciardo pulled off some fantastic moves around the outside of the Esses on both Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas’s Williams in quick succession as the Red Bull demonstrated their superior grip.

bianchi japan14 autosport

The weather conditions were worsening and on lap 43 Adrian Sutil aquaplaned off the circuit into the tyre barriers. One lap later, under double waved yellow flags, Jules Bianchi lost control in the same spot and very unfortunately crashed into the tractor that was in the process of recovering the Sauber. The race was immediately abandoned and the look on Sutil’s face confirmed the severity of the incident. Everybody’s worst nightmare was realised nine months later on 17th July 2015 when Jules passed away, having never recovered from the accident. This undoubtedly and understandably clouded the voting, with many readers giving the race a 1 score to register their dismay at the events of the day.

2015 – TJ13 reader score – 5.11

This year you have spoken in your droves and voted this by far the worst race of the season, even taking the mantle of the worst grand prix for three years from the highly stage-managed and predictable Chinese grand prix.

The race for the victory was over by the second corner as Lewis Hamilton produced a fantastic start and was able to get inside Nico into the first corner, then aggressively scrubbing wide pushing his team-mate off the track (which I’m sure didn’t go down well in the debrief!).

The bulk of the problem for Nico was created on the formation lap, where Lewis was able to manage his car’s engine and clutch temperatures more effectively. A product of the team radio ban, Nico’s car was overheating and this reduced the amount of power available to him, particularly once the second acceleration phase of the start was underway. That allowed Lewis to draw alongside and left Nico high and dry on the outside.

The rest of the race was very dull, punctuated occasionally by the sight of a under-powered Honda being mugged down the straights. Alonso was not amused at the situation, describing it as an embarrassment – “the deficit we have on power is like another category”. That didn’t go down well with Big Ron…

Driver of the day – Max Verstappen (57%)

Max seems to be making a habit of topping our polls recently, but this time he knocked everybody else out of the park with a whopping 57% of the vote. His qualifying mishaps of late have meant he has had to do a lot of work in the races, but as usual he has taken the challenge with open arms this weekend.

A lot of overtakes in general this weekend were DRS assisted into the first corner around the outside of a defending car. Excepting this it was fascinating to watch young Max hassling those around him, particularly with inventive lines through the Esses complex. His attempt to pass around the outside of the infamous 130r was slightly too ambitious and lost him time, but overall it was an excellent performance to go from 17th at the start to 9th, one place ahead of his teammate once again.


  1. For me last year’s Russian grand prix was the worst I have ever seen. (And I have seen a lot, by now) if I compare it to this year’s Suzuka, the latter wasn’t that bad.

  2. 5.11? That high? Wow. I watched much of the race at double speed (delayed obviously). There was a serious lack of action at the front, which no doubt explains why the TV director focused on those cars which were racing near’ish’ each other. I didn’t get round to voting but that was real 3/10 stuff. Hugely predictable and a lack of wheel to wheel action at the sharp end.

        • Someone really needs to setup a deluded Hamilton fans twitter account, in the same vein at “Deluded Brendan” is for LFC fans *looks towards the judge and sniggers*

          • Apols Fortis, I knew you said that in jest, my message didn’t exactly convey that though (my error!). No need to shake that head of yours, we don’t want your views getting even more warped than they already are 🙂

        • As Verstappen, son of Verstappen rises through the ranks and the Borg lay to waste every F1 online poll, comments section and forum, you will hear the cackle of an old Australian echoing through the winds that feed the flames engulfing F1.

          You’ll ponder all the previous actions of the fan base that was known as Hamfosi and you’ll wonder if karma itself has come to swallow you and your brethren whole.

          You’ll be driven crazy by that cackle, the never ending winds that feed the Borg to engulf F1. As Verstappen, son of Verstappen rises to his first victory, and thus is proclaimed as the new greatest of all time, you’ll hear the cackle as the voices of the once powerful Hamfosi can no longer withstand the ferocity of the Borg.

          You’ll try to educate, to reason, to negotiate… but they’ll destroy you. And that cackle, it will remain ever present. In time, you will beg to leave F1 as that cackle drives you slowly mad.

          Vote 15 all you like, Max will be victorious anyway. My advice… go limp. It hurts less.

          Borg… F1 is yours. Have at it.

          • Sainz and verstappen are equally good. I have an image but don’t know how to upload it here. (Help!) To show this fact. Problem is sainz doesn’t have a dutch army. And the Spanish one is supporting alonso.

          • We hamfosi’s are very resilient bunch, so we will not go quietly in the night nor will we be assimilated

          • Sainz is better at qualifying and Max at racing. Since people value racing more, Verstappen would place higher even if they had an equal number of fan boys.


    • Yes, I agree – 5.11 is too high, must be a reflection of the tense fight at the back of the field – but that in itself is a problem; nothing worth televising any nearer the front of the field!!!!

  3. Re: V, Max.

    A small error in the story shows up the problem with Max.

    He was actually voted “Driver of the Weekend” not “Driver of the Day”.

    The point is that he consistent butchers his Saturdays, gets hit with technical penalties and incurs driving standards penalties and THEN puts in notionally impressive recovery drives.

    His poll wins are just a measure of Dutch parochialism, not an indication he did the best job across the whole weekend with the tools at his disposal.

    • He had mechanical issues during qualifying, which is not a driver error. So his poor result on Saturday didn’t reflect badly on him, but his good recovery drive was his doing. Technical penalties for new engines aren’t his fault either and are team decisions, not driver decisions.

      What I consistently see is that the anti-Max crowd makes these illogical arguments against him. Frankly, as a Dutchman I try to be critical of Max, but with such comments as yours, I just end up defending him from all these poorly thought out criticisms.

        • People were already complaining that Max would top every driver poll after the first race. It was farcical to see people predict the future (wrongly) based on their prejudice.

          This thread also has some examples. If you can’t see them, that says plenty about which camp you belong to.

          • Given there is only one comment about Max, which is partially negative, (From RogerD) in this thread, I’d suggest it’s you who is firmly in one camp. Camp Verstapo! The penalty given to Max post qualifying was ludicrous frankly, but his qualifying results are a bit hit and miss, sometimes that’s car related (or engine penalties) other times not so, I’m not really sure what else you’d like people to say? The fact he does top a lot of the driver polls for me is due to a few of things:
            1.) People aren’t sure how hard Lewis is pushing when he puts those perfect weekends together. The car has a huge advantage, so are the drivers extracting 100% of the cars performance. (same applied during the RBR domination as well). This makes it tricky to award DOTW to a driver who potentially overtakes no one all race long and basically puts in a time trial style performance in a car which doesn’t have any competition.
            2.) His qualifying result normally see’s him at the rear of the grid. The Torro Rosso however is a better car than the Manor, McLaren, Sauber, sometimes the Lotus and occasionally the Force India. This can create the perception he’s had an awesome day, when in reality he’s perhaps just got the car to back where it should be once retirements also kick in?
            3.) He obviously has a huge fan base already.

            Personally I think Max has real talent, enough to be a multiple WDC, but that shouldn’t mean an army of fans suggest he can walk on water and never do any wrong. We had that with Lewis in his younger days, and that’s why he’s one of the most divisive figures in the sport to many fans.

          • “Given there is only one comment about Max…”

            What about WTF_F1’s comment? Besides, they come up regularly whenever Max is mentioned.

            1) Exactly, it’s not the poll for car+driver of the weekend, but only for the driver. So people who maximize their result with a poor car should get high placings. This hurts drivers with better cars, but they win races already, so they get their prices anyway.
            2) He still tends to end up before his higher qualifying team mate. And his overtakes are usually very well done and what you don’t tend to see from most other drivers. Fan polls will always have drivers that are fun to watch at the top.
            3) Perhaps, but I think he gained a ton of fans based on his driving, rather than nationality. The apparent assumption that all his fans are stupid nationalists, rather than people with eyes who like his driving, is really rather irritating.

            “that shouldn’t mean an army of fans suggest he can walk on water and never do any wrong.”

            I don’t see how his defenders are any worse in this regard than those of other drivers. You say that Lewis used to get more blind defenders in the past, but right now, I think his fans are no better than the Max fans.

  4. I actually enjoyed watching all those battles in the midfield and the back. The battle for the 12th spot was EPIC! No wonder Mercedes got no TV car. Their number two driver cannot treat us even with an artificial battle for the title.

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