A not so Super Sunday for Ferrari

Mark Scott
Charles Leclerc Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Charles Leclerc Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Ferrari may have locked out the front row at the Japanese GP, but for them race day soon unraveled.

Here is how Super Sunday unfolded in Japan…

Mercedes’ dominance in Friday practice turned to nothing in qualifying as Ferrari fired up their engines and locked out the front row with Sebastian Vettel on pole.

The very green track and windy conditions in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis led to two early crashes in Q1. Robert Kubica was the first to find the barriers.

Haas’ Romain Grosjean  Kevin Magnussen followed…

It was an awful race start for Ferrari as Valtteri Bottas took P1 from Vettel off the line.

Charles Leclerc made contact with Max Verstappen which left him with front wing damage, while Verstappen went spinning to the back.

After initially ignoring Ferrari’s orders to pit, Leclerc would finally give in on Lap 4, now armed with only one wing mirror after the other fell off.

Verstappen, down in P17, would give up on Lap 15 and retired his RB15.

Vettel was the first of the top three to pit, fitting another set of soft tyres on Lap 17 to commit to a two-stopper.

Race leader Bottas followed a lap later, it was the medium compound for him.

The stewards, after saying they wouldn’t investigate the Verstappen/Leclerc incident, then announced that it would be investigated after the race.

Investigation or not, Leclerc was firmly in overtake mode as he worked his way through the midfield.

Meanwhile his team-mate Vettel came in on Lap 32 for his second stop, on went the medium tyres.

Bottas pitted from the lead on Lap 36 to fit the softs. If Hamilton wasn’t going to stop again, then Bottas would need to pass his team-mate on the circuit.

Hamilton as it turned out wasn’t going to the end. Lap 43 he came in and bolted on a set of soft tyres, dropping him to P3 behind Vettel.

Hamilton set a new lap record, with that point giving Mercedes the 14-point advantage over Ferrari’s total from the Japanese GP which they needed to wrap up a sixth Constructors’ Championship in a row.

But, Ferrari had one last trick up their sleeve as Leclerc boxed for new softs to try and take that point back.

Bottas took the win, Leclerc couldn’t get that fastest lap point, so Mercedes were Constructors’ Champions again.

The result also meant that Vettel, Leclerc and Verstappen were out of the title race, ensuring that Mercedes will claim a sixth Drivers’ and Constructors’ double in a row, something never achieved in Formula 1 before.

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