Japanese GP 2007 statistics & facts

Nico Rosberg, Takuma Sato, Fuji Speedway, 2007 | Charles Coates / LAT PhotographicHamilton moves into the championship lead – but what does he have to do to wrap up the title in Shanghai?

Also the curse of Mark Webber strikes once more as the Australian again retires from a race he had led.

And was that the longest safety car period ever? I need your help on that one.

Lewis Hamilton’s commanding victory was also his first ever triple of win, pole position and fastest lap. All his four wins have been scored from pole position so far – the only pole he didn’t convert into victory was at Silverstone.

He will become champion at Shanghai this weekend if he wins the race. But even if he fails to score – something he’s only done once this year – he’ll still take the title if Fernando Alonso finishes eighth or lower and Kimi Raikkonen finishes third or lower.

Hamilton now has four wins, which is as many as McLaren founder Bruce McLaren. He’s also passed the 100 points mark. If he wins the title this year, it will be his third championship in a row following his F3 Euroseries triumph in 2005 and GP2 title last year.

The last British driver to win in Japan was Damon Hill when he won the world championship in 1996.

Alonso failed to score for the first time in 18 races – the last being at Monza last year when his engine failed. It was also the first DNF for a McLaren this year.

Felipe Massa can no longer win the drivers’ title this year.

Heikki Kovalainen has now scored points for the last seven races in a row – more than anyone else – after Nick Heidfeld’s personal best points-scoring run of seven races came to an end. Kovalainen also scored his first career podium and Renault’s first podium of the year.

He is only the fourth non-McLaren/Ferrari driver to get on the podium this year, and along with Kimi Raikkonen formed the first ever Finnish duo on the podium.

Also taking a career-best finish was Adrian Sutil, eighth (after Vitantonio Liuzzi’s penalty) which gave him his first ever point and Spyker’s first of the year. Team mate Sakon Yamamoto scored his highest career finish of 12th.

This means Toro Rosso are the only team not to have scored points, barring excluded the McLaren outfit.

Sebastian Vettel led a Grand Prix for the first time, for three laps, in his fifth race. He also gave Toro Rosso their first appearance in the final part of qualifying, and highest grid placing of eighth. Absolutely none of which will make him feel better about taking Mark Webber off when the pair were running second and third.

An incensed Webber reckoned he could have won the race. He had set the third fastest race lap (Vettel fifth). He retired from the other three races he led as well: Indianapolis 2003 (spin), Melbourne 2006 (gearbox) and Monte-Carlo 2006 (exhaust).

Although the conditions were reminiscent of the famous race at Fuji in 1976, the result mirrored the 1977 Fuji event, which was also won by a British driver (James Hunt) in McLaren.

None of the Japanese drivers, car, or engines scored a point. Happily, a Japanese tyre manufacturer scored all the points and filled every other place as well.

Most unusually, the two ways by which the end of the race is called for were met. That is, the scheduled number of laps were completed but no further laps could have been done anyway because the race had also hit the two hour mark.

Along with the European Grand Prix it was the second race to last two hours this year, which hasn’t happened since 1989, when the United States (Pheonix, dry), Canadian (Montreal, wet) and Australian (Adelaide, wet) Grands Prix all took two hours.

Which leaves with a request for stat hounds out there – did this race have the longest single safety car period ever seen in F1? I can’t remember another one that lasted 18 laps, or half an hour, however you want to measure it…

Photo: Charles Coates / LAT Photographic

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11 comments on Japanese GP 2007 statistics & facts

  1. the commentators on Start Sports could not remember that long safety car period either… but they also called Sato Yamamoto and Kovalainen Alonso (after Alonso crashed out of the race) :-)

  2. AndyJ said on 1st October 2007, 10:24

    Come on Lewis, it’s in the bag.

  3. journeyer said on 1st October 2007, 10:52

    This could be the longest one. The one in Australia 2001 was 10 laps long (according to GrandPrix.com) and the one in Brazil 2003 also lasted around 10-12 laps.

    Can anyone else confirm that?

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st October 2007, 11:14

    The one at Italy in 2000 lasted for 11 laps according to Forix.

  5. Brazil 2003′s longest Safety Car period was only 8 laps, while Australia 2001′s Safety Car session was 11 laps. I suspect that yesterday’s race was absolutely the longest (I don’t know how long Australia 1989′s Safety Car was, for instance) but I think it has to be a contender.

  6. “Happily, a Japanese tyre manufacturer scored all the points and filled every other place as well.”

    Haha a really good one there:D

    Btw Hamilton stated that this felt like the longest race that he has ever driven, I guess it’s because it indeed was the longest race ever for him. The question is, which is the longest F1 race ever? Has the 2h rule always been there since 1950? If so this race at 2h35sec must be the longest F1 race ever.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st October 2007, 14:22

    Actually I covered the two hour rule here – Your questions: Two hour rule.

    This year’s European Grand Prix was timed at 2hrs 6min as it was suspended for a long period.

    The two hour rules came in in the ’70s. Before then many races were over two hours in duration.

    The longest race that qualified for F1 status was the 1951 Indianapolis 500, won by Lee Wallard in 3:57’38.05 – just under four hours. The longest ‘traditional’ Grand Prix was the 1954 German Grand Prix, won by Juan Manuel Fangio in 3:45’45.8 (three and three-quarter hours).

    Yesterday’s race was not the longest Lewis Hamilton has been in, although it probably was the longest time he’s spent racing.

    His longest race was at Oschersleben in 2005 in the F3 Euroseries – he finished third behind Lucas di Grassi whose race time was 5:01’03.925! The race was stopped due to rain, suspended, and restarted later on in the same way the European grand Prix was this year. It was only a standard 70-odd kilometre F3 event, not some gruelling endurance marathon.

  8. Thanks for clearing that up Keith. I was refereing to racing time on the track, that makes this race about 15 min longer than European GP. Maybe this is the longest race after the introduction of the 2h rule?

    Just want to be sensational hehe:)

  9. oliver said on 1st October 2007, 20:21

    hamilton didnt mean it was the longest race he had ever been in, based on number of hours or racing, but that it felt very long, cause of the conditions.. when ur all tensed up or stressed,, time seems to go very slowly and i would think the race seemed to go on for ever for a lot of the other drivers out there too

  10. I know, I just love an excuse to trot out that Oschersleben thing because I think it’s funny…

  11. Keith, you just wanted to use Oschersleben in a sentence!

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