2014 Japanese Grand Prix Preview

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As Formula 1 ventures to the land of the rising sun, night is slowly beginning to fall on the 2014 season with just five rounds remaining.

However, in the final quarter of the year, there is a great deal to be settled. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue to duel at Mercedes, and in a rivalry that is being compared to that of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, where better than Suzuka to settle the score?

The momentum undoubtedly lies with Hamilton following back-to-back wins that have put him back in control of the championship. He leads Rosberg by three points after the German driver was sidelined in Singapore by an electrical problem, leaving him reeling. Given that he has not won a race since the German Grand Prix in the middle of July, the pressure is on Nico to find his form once again and to stop Lewis from running away.

Although many will be looking for a repeat of the Senna/Prost clashes at turn one, such an event is unlikely following the clash at Spa and the immediate consequences. Instead, we should relish the prospect of an all-out straight fight at the front that we have been robbed of in the past few races.

Further back, there is still a great deal to be decided both on and off track. Ferrari and Williams continue to scrap over third place in the constructors’ championship, but Fernando Alonso’s future may be the more immediate concern for the Italian marque. Speculators thought an announcement from Honda confirming the Spaniard at McLaren for 2015 could come at its home race, but instead we will have to keep guessing.

Suzuka is one of F1’s most infamous circuits, and the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix will look to provide its own memorable moments that will be looked back on in years to come.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix – Talking Points

Three-peat for Lewis?

Does luck come into a championship fight? Of course it does. Lewis Hamilton has been terribly unlucky this year, but teammate Nico Rosberg got a taste of the same medicine in Singapore when an electrical issued sidelined him. Although the German will be hoping to hit back at Suzuka, Hamilton will know that a third win in a row could be crippling in the psychological battle. It would also give him victory at a circuit all the greats have won at. Much like Monaco, Silverstone and Spa, Suzuka is a track that everyone wants to win at.

The return of Seb and Kimi

The race in Singapore was an important one for both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, as both appeared to show signs of a revival in a season that has led many to question their ability. Vettel ran well to P2, and although his hopes of a fifth win at Suzuka are slim, he’ll be gunning for another podium finish behind the Silver Arrows. Raikkonen may have faded by the end of the race at Marina Bay, but he too appears to be in better shape than he was a few weeks ago. The Finn will want to make the most of it at the site of his finest hour in 2005.

The Power of Dreams

This weekend is an important one for Honda, given that it is the brand’s home race and the final Japanese Grand Prix before its return to Formula 1 in 2015. We were given a teaser shot of its 2015 power unit earlier this week, and more details are due across the course of the race weekend. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea of what direction McLaren is heading in come Monday?

Is the end nigh at Caterham?

Yesterday, we heard the sad news that Caterham had a number of goods seized by bailiffs from its factory in England due to unpaid debts, including the upgrades that were meant to be used in Japan. Essentially, it means this weekend isn’t going to be a very fruitful one, and merely racing is an achievement. The team has insisted that all is well and problems aren’t afoot, but it is difficult to see what the future holds. The team’s entry in F1 is safe, but the means to actually race are far from it.

Typhoon trouble

Thursday was a wet affair at Suzuka (not that the fans cared), and it looks to get far, far worse later this weekend as Typhoon Phanfone threatens to quite literally rain on F1’s parade. The category 3-4 typhoon is currently in the Pacific, but is set to come up towards Japan later this weekend, hitting Suzuka on Sunday and Monday. Already questions have been asked about possibly running the race on Saturday to avoid any cancellation, but for the time being, everything is set to run as normal. If anyone is selling Kamui Kobayashi-branded umbrellas at Suzuka, you’ll make a killing.

Japan – Facts and Figures

Track: Suzuka Circuit
Laps: 53
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Kimi Raikkonen 1:31.540 (2005)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2013 Pole Position: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:30.914
2013 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:34.587
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T18 to T1)

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.