Season 3 – Sauber – Race 15 – Japan
Quali – 17th
To be honest, I’ve always struggled to find a good setup for Suzuka, and this trend continued during this race weekend. Especially on the hard tyre, I was having huge amounts of understeer. In a dry qualifying, 17th was the best I could do.
Race – 5th
It was damp to start, so every driver was on inters. I had a decent start and was cautious, which cant be said for my teammate, who took too much speed into turn one and spun.
At the end of the first lap, everyone pitted for dry tires except me because I thought it was still a little bit too early. This was the right call. I pitted on the next lap and emerged in the lead. So I gained 13 positions by staying out a lap longer.
My lead was short lived however, as I locked the rear wheels going into turn 1 and ran wide, rejoining in third behind the duelling Grosjean and Di Resta. Behind me, Maldonado was looking menacing, but I kept a reasonable gap to him. Di Resta was about 4 seconds ahead of me.
I was happy at this stage and when Grosjean and Di Resta pitted on lap 15, I stayed out for two more laps, setting my fuel mixture to rich and pushing like crazy, hoping to emerge ahead of Di Resta when I rejoined. This didnt happen though, I rejoined still in third but I even lost time to the williams behind me.
In the space of three laps, I was passed three times, by Maldonado, Rosberg and Raikkonen, all using DRS and I was powerless to stop them. My pace was just not good at this stage but there was yet another twist in the weather. It was starting to rain again!
I made a bold move and pitted for inters with 4 laps to go. I rejoined in seventh place, five seconds behind Schumacher. I got passed him coming out of the hairpin, the wettest part of the circuit, as he struggled for traction with his dry tyres.
Just like in the 2012 qualifying in Suzuka, on the last lap, Kimi Raikkonen ahead of me spun at spoon curve, which gifted me fifth place! The Sauber garage afterwards was a jubilous scene, with my mechanics patting me on the back and delighted with an excellent fifth place finish. To come from 17th on the grid and to finish in fifth was a great result, even made better because I finished ahead of Massa my rival, which presumably means that I will be driving for Ferrari next season, as I’m winning 2-1 in the head-to-head.
And that was my last report for a while. I hope you enjoyed it! I will be back at mid to late June with more reports from my F1 2012 season. Until then..
Australia: 14th – 14th
Malaysia: 10th – 7th
China: 10th – 15th
Bahrain: 5th – 11th
Spain: 17th – 16th
Monaco: 1st – DNF
Canada: 1st – 1st
Europe: 1st – DNF
Great Britain: 11th – 4th
Germany: 5th – 1st
Hungary: 16th – DNF
Belgium: 14th – 7th
Italy: 4th – 14th
Singapore: 22nd – 14th
Japan: 17th – 5th