The 2017 Japanese Grand Prix is in the books and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory after his main rival – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – encountered spark plug issues that took him out of the race early on. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed second and his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, was third.
The race was only a race for one lap as the pole-sitter Hamilton beat Vettel to the first turn and midway through the first lap, Vettel began to experience his spark plug issues, resulting in a loss of power. Nearly the entire field had passed Vettel by the second lap and he was forced to come into the pits before eventually retiring by the fourth lap. That left Hamilton to essentially cruise around the track virtually unmolested, save for a few brief forays from Verstappen. ASN awards top points to Hamilton for the victory and holding Verstappen at bay with second-place points going to Verstappen and the third-place single point going to Force India’s Esteban Ocon, who finished a solid sixth. With four races to go in the season, Vettel holds a commanding eight-point lead over Hamilton.
The Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award is split this week between Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz – each of whom crashed their cars out all by themselves with no help from anybody else – but each missed getting the full point because neither were able to take out another innocent race car driver in genuine Maldonado fashion. Sainz now moves into second place behind Sergio Perez in the category.
The Kimi Raikkonen “Leave Me Alone! I Know What I’m Doing!” Award goes to Renault’s Kevin Magnussen for his simple but arrogant “Goodbye!” after he passed Williams’ Felipe Massa. Magnussen moves into a second-place tie with Vettel behind McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.
The Bernie Ecclestone Doofus Moment Award goes to Vettel’s Ferrari pit whose reliability issues now may have legitimately cost Vettel points in at least two races this year – effectively scuttling his realistic chances at winning the 2017 Formula One driver’s title. Award namesake Bernie Ecclestone maintains his stranglehold on the category.
2017 ASN Formula One Driver’s Rankings [after Japanese Grand Prix]
1] Sebastian Vettel – 29 points
2] Lewis Hamilton – 21
3] Valtteri Bottas – 12
4] Daniel Ricciardo -10
5] Esteban Ocon/Max Verstappen – six
7] Fernando Alonso/Kimi Raikkonen/Stoffel Vandoorne – four
10] Sergio Perez – two
11] Romain Grosjean/Lance Stroll – one
2017 Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award [after Japanese Grand Prix]
1] Perez – three
2] Carlos Sainz – 2.5
3] Daniil Kvyat/Verstappen/Vettel – two
6] Grosjean/Kevin Magnussen/Jolyon Palmer/Stroll/Vandoorne – one
11] Marcus Ericsson – .5
2017 Kimi Raikkonen “Leave Me Alone! I Know What I’m Doing!” Award [after Japanese Grand Prix]
1] Alonso – three
2] Magnussen/Vettel – two
4] Bottas/Jenson Button/Grosjean/Hamilton/Mercedes [Bottas pit]/Ocon/Red Bull [Verstappen pit]/Ricciardo/Verstappen – one
2017 Bernie Ecclestone Doofus Moment Award [after Japanese Grand Prix]
1] Bernie Ecclestone – three
2] Australian Grand Prix officials/British Grand prix officials/Canadian Grand Prix officials/Ferrari pit [Vettel]/Force India/Goodwood Festival of Speed/Hamilton/Mercedes marketing/Singapore Grand Prix officials/Stroll/Williams – one