Renault: The team will consider its next course of action

Renault F1 Team acknowledges the decision of the Stewards of the Japanese Grand Prix regarding the protest by SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team concerning the legality of Renault F1 Team’s braking system during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite the FIA concurring with Renault that the system was entirely legal under the FIA Technical Regulations, it was judged by the stewards that the system was in breach of the FIA Sporting Regulations regarding driver aid. Both Renault cars were disqualified from the Japanese Grand Prix and the team loses the nine points scored.

However, considering the subjectivity of the qualification of a system as a driver aid and the variability of the associated penalties in recent cases, Renault F1 Team will consider its next course of action within the timeframe laid out by the FIA.


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Renault disqualified, stripped of Japanese Grand Prix points

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg were disqualified from the results of the Japanese Grand Prix after the sport’s governing body ruled they had benefited from an illegal driver aid.

Australian Ricciardo and German Hulkenberg were classified sixth and 10th at the Oct. 13 race in Suzuka but the Racing Point team protested the brake bias system used by the French manufacturer.

The governing FIA said in a statement ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that Renault had until Thursday to appeal the decision.

Renault scored nine points in Japan, consolidating their fifth place in the constructors’ standings.

It said the stewards had concluded after a telephone hearing that while the brake bias system “used innovative solutions to exploit certain ambiguities”, it did not breach the technical regulations.

The system was, however, not allowed as a driver aid.

“The brake balance adjustment system in question acts as a driver aid, by saving the driver from having to make a number of adjustments during a lap,” it said.


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Never Lift Video: The Week of the Japanese Grand Prix

The Never Lift series returns with a unique fly on the wall journey through our Japanese Grand Prix. Follow our week in Japan including a special day with Honda and their classic RA272, to a day in Tokyo with Red Bull Japan and all the build-up in Suzuka.


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Wolff dedicates Mercedes title triumph to Niki Lauda

The Mercedes team was celebrating their sixth consecutive constructors championship on Sunday, after Valtteri Bottas claimed victory in the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

And team principal Toto Wolff was quick to dedicate their latest success to former executive chairman and three-time world champion Niki Lauda, who passed away earlier this year.

“It feels good. When we embarked on this journey six or seven years ago, we wanted to win races more regularly and then fight for a championship. Six years later, it’s the sixth championship in a row.

“I feel so happy for everybody involved,” he told Sky Sports F1. “Lots of hard work behind the scenes. Lots of painful moments also. But the team was always able to pick itself up.”

“The pressure is enormous. You can say you’re fighting at the front but the truth is you’re setting your own bar very high and your own expectations. Then not meeting those expectations is very painful.

“This team has become so strong because we have really been able to stand up when it didn’t go well, like this morning, and that’s something we need to continue to work on.”

And the victory made Wolff emotional when asked about the huge larger than life inspitation behind it.

“We want to dedicate this to Niki because he has been such an important part since the beginning of the journey,” Wolff said.

“His sheer presence was always so important, the mixture between support and pressure. He was such a very special person.

“It’s very difficult because I miss him every day, and I think about him every day.” Wolff added. “When we talk in our group of friends, it’s surreal that he’s not here. because he was such a larger than life person.

“I ask myself what would he say, and what would he think. But it doesn’t compensate for the loss – that he’s simply not here any more.”

©Mercedes

While Mercedes have secured the team title, the drivers title is yet to be settled – although it’s now between just the two Silver Arrows drivers, Bottas or his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

“Really proud, obviously, to be part of a team,” Bottas said after Sunday’s race. “A sixth title in a row is so impressive.

“It doesn’t happen every day. It’s nice to know I’ve had to do something for it,” he added. “Very proud of every single team member, here at the race and also at the factory. Well done guys, and girls!

“It means a lot. As a driver, it’s not as big a thing as the drivers’ championship, for sure, that’s a fact, but it does mean a lot,” he acknowledged.

Mercedes AMG F1 celebrate a 1-3 finish and winning the Constructors Championship. 13.10.2019

Hamilton has a 64 point lead in the driver standings, but Bottas insisted that he’s not yet giving up the chance of pulling off the seemingly impossible in the remaining four races of the season.

“For sure, [winning the title] is a long shot this year but I’m not giving up on it yet,” he insisted. “But next year is a new year again.

“If I one day want to win the championship alongside Lewis, I have to beat him. And now there’s other competition as well, it’s not just Lewis so it’s never going to be easy.

“But today is proof that it’s not impossible.”

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Premature finish in Suzuka keeps Perez in the points

There was heartbreak for Sergio Perez when the Racing Point clashed with a Toro Rosso and ended up being spun out of ninth place and into the gravel near the end of the Japanese Grand Prix.

The accident meant that Perez was initially shown in 17th place in the official results for the race. However a few minutes later a revised classification was issued, with Perez back in ninth – and the race one lap shorter.

Instead of 53 laps as planned, the race was shortened to 52 laps after a technical glitch with the timing system.

That resulted in the chequered flag being shown to the leaders one lap too soon. Under the sporting regulations, that meant the race did indeed end one lap earlier – and the roll back means Perez stays in the points despite his clash with Pierre Gasly.

According to Article 43.2 of F1’s sporting regulations, “Should for any reason the end‐of‐race signal be given before the leading car completes the scheduled number of laps, or the prescribed time has been completed, the race will be deemed to have finished when the leading car last crossed the Line before the signal was given.”

With Perez back in ninth place, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg drops back to tenth. And Perez’ team mate Lance Stroll misses out on a point altogether, as he was pushed out of the top ten by Perez’ reinstatement.

Racing Point is currently in seventh place in the constructors championship. The two points scored by Perez on Sunday keep it within five points of Toro Rosso in sixth.

It also means that Perez is now in a three-way tie for tenth place in the driver standings with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren Lando Norris.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point F1 Team RP19.

Initial reports said that the FIA was uncertain about the cause of the chequered flag panel being illuminated too early. An investigation into the glitch is said to be underway.

It might be related to the disruption caused by Typhoon Hagibis, with much of the circuit infrastructure having to be packed away on Saturday to protect it against the inclement weather and set up in haste on Sunday morning in time to hold qualifying.

It’s not the first time that a Grand Prix has been accidentally curtailed.

The most recent occasion was last year’s Canadian race, where model Winnie Harlow was given instructions to wave the chequered flag too soon.

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Vettel saved from 'jump start' penalty in Suzuka

Sebastian Vettel was on pole position for the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, but his hopes of victory crumbled when his Ferrari lurched forward on the line before the lights went out.

“The lights were on for a long time but it was my mistake,” Vettel said after finishing the race in second place.

“It was worse than just having a poor start, it was a really poor start,” he admitted. “I lost the momentum there.”

With Vettel having to stop and then get a proper start when the lights did finally go out, Valtteri Bottas was handed the opportunity to drive around the Ferrari on the outside into turn 1.

Vettel said that he never had another realistic chance to challenge the Mercedes for victory.

“It was difficult because Mercedes were quite quick in the race. They had more pace than us, Valtteri was flying at the end of the first stint, and then Lewis tried a one-stopper.

“In the end I knew he would come out behind,” Vettel continued. “I paced myself around and tried to get good exits in places he could be a threat.”

“They could have played a lot more with the tactics, that way they had one car comfortably in the lead,” he added. “We weren’t a threat for him, we just lacked a little bit of pace.”

2nd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90.

The race stewards subsequently issued an explanation as to why Vettel’s start line ‘stutter’ didn’t result in a jump start penalty.

“The Stewards reviewed video evidence and the jump-start report based on the information from the FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted to each car,” said an official statement from the FIA.

“Whilst the video shows some movement that movement was within the acceptable tolerance of the F1 jump start system which formerly defines a jump start per Article 36.13(a) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”

The cited regulation says that a driver gets a drive-through or ten-second stop-and-go penalty if they “move before the start signal is given, such judgement being made by an FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted to each car.”

In this case it appears that Vettel’s forward motion ceases soon enough not to trigger the transponder, ensuring he was not handed the penalty.

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Bottas wins at Suzuka as Mercedes clinch sixth title

Valtteri Bottas cooly dominated the Japanese Grand Prix after pole sitter Sebastian Vettel suffered a poor start off the line in Suzuka.

Bottas swept into the lead heading into turn 1, leaving the Ferrari to fight it out with Lewis Hamilton to hold on to second place. The matter was eventually decided in Vettel’s favour, but the overall result was still enough for Mercedes to clinch the constructors title for a sixth consecutive time.

Alexander Albon just missed out on a podium in fourth place ahead of Carlos Sainz, his Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen having been forced to retire after clashing with Charles Leclerc on the first lap.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 leads at the start of the race.

It felt like no time at all since qualifying when the cars reconvened on the grid for the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, with the skies over Suzuka a bright blue betraying no trace of typhoon Hagibis that had resulted in such disruption to the weekend’s schedule. However, the gusty winds that had caused so much trouble in the morning session continued to make themselves felt.

With Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc having secured an unexpected front row lockout ahead of Mercedes pair Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, the two-by-two line-up continued with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon lining up on row three after posting identical times in qualifying. They were followed by an all-McLaren behind them, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris ready to take advantage of any opportunities that presented themselves in the downhill run down to turn 1. The top ten was rounded out by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 leads at the start of the race.

When the lights went out, Vettel stuttered off the line which allowed Bottas to get the upper hand, sweeping around the outside of the Ferrari to take the lead. Hamilton also tried a move around a slow-starting Leclerc on the other side of the track only to have to fall back in line, losing a spot to Verstappen in the process.

However seconds later, Verstappen tried his own move on Leclerc only for the cars to made contact as Leclerc ran wide and hit Verstappen, who spun off onto the grass at turn 2. The Red Bull was able to resume albeit in 18th place, while Leclerc incurred damage to his front wing. Despite shedding chunks of carbon fibre, Leclerc decided to carry on regardless until finally pitting on lap 4 and dropping to the back as a consequence. Elsewhere there was also a hot-tempered clash over fifth place between Albon and Norris at the chicane, with Norris sent into the runoff and subsequently pitting for repairs, but clearly compromised for the rest of the afternoon.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB15.

Eight laps in, Bottas had built up a 2.5s lead over Vettel followed by Hamilton, Sainz, Albon, Gasly, Lance Stroll, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo. Verstappen had already recovered to 16th place with Leclerc in close pursuit; but with the RB15 carrying damage from their earlier clash, Leclerc was soon able to get past using DRS down the main straight. He followed that up with determined moves on Daniil Kvyat through Spoon on lap 12 and then Kimi Raikkonen on lap 14. In contrast Verstappen was now waning fast, and on lap 16 the team finally called him into the garage to retire due to the earlier damage.

Verstappen’s team mate Albon was the first of the front-runners to pit on lap 16 for a new set of mediums, with Vettel in next time by. He slammed on the brakes as he came in to pit lane to pick up a second set of soft tyres, a move which briefly dropped him behind Sainz. Bottas immediately responded on lap 18, opting for the medium tyres and coming back out in second while Hamilton took over the lead of the race, seemingly on a one-stop strategy while those behind him were set for two stops meaning that they were now gaining fast.

Hamilton eventually pitted on lap 22, handing the lead back to Bottas in the process. He came back out in third behind Vettel but crucially ahead of the yet-to-stop Sainz, who had ten seconds in hand over Albon. Sainz duly made his stop on lap 27 for fresh mediums, a lap after Leclerc made his own second stop of the afternoon for another set of softs which allowed him to make quick work of Kvyat – again – for 11th place. The Russian had already lost two places to Hulkenberg and Perez in a single move the lap before.

Bottas continued to command the race with an 11s lead over Vettel, but Hamilton was less than happy with the team’s strategy choices for him despite running in third place, with a big lead over Albon who was now up to fourth ahead of Ricciardo, Sainz, Gasly, Stroll, Hulkenberg and Perez. Ricciardo’s pit stop on lap 30 – exchanging his starter mediums for a pacier set of softs to finish the day on – temporarily dropped the Renault out of the top ten, while at the same time Leclerc cruised past first Perez and then Hulkenberg to move up to eighth place. He soon put Stroll to the sword as well, and then dispatched Gasly with aplomb for sixth through Spoon.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF90.

Vettel was back on pit lane on lap 32, finally switching to medium tyres and dropping 20s behind Hamilton as a result. The question now was whether Hamilton could stay out all the way to the finish while continuing to maintain sufficient speed to stay ahead of Vettel, or whether he would have to make a second pit stop of his own.

Bottas was already committed to a two-stop strategy, and was in for his second stop on lap 37 to put him back on the soft compound for the run to the finish line. That dropped him nine seconds behind Hamilton, but with the advantage of faster and fresher tyres. While Hamilton had been largely able to preserve his advantage, the team crunched the numbers and called him on lap 43 in an effort to achieve the Mercedes 1-2. Hamilton dropped four seconds behind the Ferrari as a result, meaning that he now had work to do in the remaining ten laps.

The new soft tyres played to Hamilton’s advantage, and he was within DRS range of the Ferrari with five laps to go. But catching is one thing and passing quite another, especially with the SF90’s straight line speed advantage, and Vettel was able to hold on to second all the way to the chequered flag. Even so, the outcome wasn’t enough for Ferrari to prevent Mercedes from taking the constructors title – with a little help from a bonus point for fastest lap by Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Scuderia Ferrari and Valtteri Bottas (FIN), Mercedes AMG F1  13.10.2019.

The battle over second and third place had played out well in front of Albon and Sainz, who were the only other cars still on the lead lap by the finish. Leclerc finished in sixth ahead of Ricciardo, Gasly, Perez and Hulkenberg – despite Perez spinning into the gravel on the penultimate lap, after a timing systems error resulted in the result actually being set a lap early at the end lap 52.

Missing out on the top ten were Stroll Kvyat, Norris, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Giovinazzi, with Kevin Magnussen in 17th place. The two Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica were the final cars still running, and Verstappen the only formal retirement of the afternoon.

Today’s result also means that Mercedes has won the drivers championship – making it a record sixth consecutive driver/team title combination – as Leclerc, Verstappen and Vettel are all too far behind to catch Hamilton with four races remaining. However Hamilton hasn’t actually yet clinched the title: his team mate Valtteri Bottas is the only driver who can thwart him now.

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2019 Japanese Grand Prix – Revised race results

Full race results from the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka International Racing Course, round 17 of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

2019 Japanese Grand Prix – Race results

Pos Driver Team Gap Stops
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 52 laps – 1:21:46.755s 2
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari + 13.343s 2
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 13.858s 2
4 Alexander Albon Red Bull + 59.537s 2
5 Carlos Sainz McLaren + 69.101s 1
6 Daniel Ricciardo Renault + 1 lap 1
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari + 1 lap * 3
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso + 1 lap 1
9 Sergio Pérez Racing Point + 1 lap 2
10 Nico Hülkenberg Renault + 1 lap 1
11 Lance Stroll Racing Point + 1 lap 1
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso + 1 lap 1
13 Lando Norris McLaren + 1 lap 3
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo + 1 lap 2
15 Romain Grosjean Haas + 1 lap 1
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo + 1 lap 2
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1 lap 2
18 George Russell Williams + 2 laps 1
19 Robert Kubica Williams + 2 laps 2
20 Max Verstappen Red Bull DNF 1

* includes five second penalty for causing a collision and a further ten second penalty for continuing to drive the car in an unsafe condition after an incident on lap 1

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