The 2015 ASN Formula One Driver Rankings – Race 14 [Japanese]


The official 2015 ASN Driver Rankings have been updated to reflect the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix – which we are calling the I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix [for what are obvious “vaporous” reasons]. The I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix is held on the sweeping Suzuka circuit – one of the more visually pleasing tracks on the F1 circuit – which typically has its fair share of F1 fanatics. The I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix was, unfortunately, the site of last year’s crash of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, who eventually died from injuries sustained in that crash.

As for the race, it was back to the same old, same old for Mercedes and Formula One races this season – another 1-2 finish for defending champion Lewis Hamilton and his teammate Nico Rosberg – with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel coming in the obligatory third place. This exact podium formation with three drivers has now occurred four times this season and the only difference this time was how they arrived in their usual spots. Hamilton’s position was no mystery – he jumped pole-sitter Rosberg at the start, forced him out wide in the first turn and then twiddled his thumbs for the next two hours. Rosberg, on the other hand, had a more difficult path. After his teammate forced him wide on the first turn, that allowed Vettel to squeeze past him for second – a move that usually signals a death knell for Rosberg’s hopes of moving upward. But fortunately for Rosberg, Ferrari’s pit made a crucial late-race pit-timing calculation error that allowed Rosberg to finally pass as he was exiting the pits and from there, Rosberg was able to fend off Vettel for the second spot on the podium.

That was essentially the bulk of what could be classified as “drama” for the podium positions for the race but there was not much in the drama department for the other positions of the race either. After Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo failed attempt at a middle pass at the race start took out himself, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Force India’s Sergio Perez with tire punctures on the first lap, it was essentially a 14-car race [taking away the distant Hamilton and the non-competitive Manor/Marussia cars] with all the drama that usually comes with a 14-car race on a 3.6-mile-long track. Needless to say, aside from a few minor spinouts along the way, the remainder of the race was a perfect commercial for sleep-inducing drugs.

Technically, there were no early race casualties – although it could certainly be argued that Ricciardo, Massa and Perez were casualties of Ricciardo’s race-starting maneuver – and there was only one late-race retirement by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr. However, only 10 cars finished on the lead lap and the ninth-place car of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was mere seconds away from being lapped.

As for the racing, Hamilton gets the points for the win while Rosberg claims second – thanks mostly to an assist from Ferrari’s pit – and AutoSportsNation is setting a precedent by awarding the final point for the 2015 I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix to…and you might want to sit down for this…Pastor Maldonado from Lotus. Not only did Maldonado not crash into anything during the entire race but he actually stayed on the lead lap, eventually finishing eighth overall. A genuinely unbelievable drive by Maldonado. Vettel maintains his lead over Hamilton for the season.

For the other awards, the main contenders for the Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award are Carlos Sainz, Jr. [for running over an innocent pit entrance pylon], Maldonado’s Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean for taking a shortcut near the pit entrance, Manor/Marussia’s Will Stevens for a late race spin and Ferrari’s pit for mis-timing Vettel’s pit and losing him potential second place points. Although Ferrari’s timing brain fart was bad, it was still close as Rosberg nipped Vettel at the corner of the pit exit. On the other hand, Sainz, Jr. not only destroyed an innocent pylon but also damaged his front wing in the process, requiring a 19-second pit stop that cost him points. Maldonado still leads in his signature award category.

Another Mercedes blowout victory means radio chatter was light and mostly uneventful for the Kimi Raikkonen “Leave Me Alone, I Know What I’m Doing!” Award for the 2015 I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix. That left it to the frustration felt by Fernando Alonso, who vented over the radio to his McLaren team that he was saddled with a “GP2 engine” in his car. Hamilton still holds the season lead in this category.

Finally, for the Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award for the 2015 I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix, the award must go to Mercedes for post-race whinging about why their drivers – specifically Hamilton – were not shown on live television more often despite dominating the race. ASN agrees with Mercedes – the television coverage is poor – but the solution is not more coverage of Hamilton driving by himself. Also, post-race whinging while your team is dominating for the past two years can only be described as idiotic. Mercedes’ boy, Hamilton, still holds a commanding lead in his signature award category.

The 2015 Formula One season continues with the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi at 4 a.m. [PDT] on NBCSN on October 11, 2015.

The 2015 ASN Formula One Driver Standings [after the I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix]

1] Sebastian Vettel – 25 points

2] Lewis Hamilton – 20 points

3] Nico Rosberg – eight points

4] Valtteri Bottas – five points

5] Kimi Raikkonen/Daniel Ricciardo – four points

7] Romain Grosjean/Felipe Massa – three points

9] Fernando Alonso/Jenson Button/Nico Hulkenberg/Daniil Kvyat/Max Verstappen – two points

14] Pastor Maldonado/Sergio Perez/Alexander Rossi – one point

The 2015 Pastor Maldonado Driving School Award Standings [after the I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix]

1] Maldonado – 3.5 points

2] Grosjean – 2.5 points

3] Bottas pit/Marcus Ericsson/Hamilton/Hamilton pit/Raikkonen/Raikkonen pit/Ricciardo/Sainz, Jr. – one point

The 2015 Kimi Raikkonen Leave Me Alone I Know What I’m Doing Award Standings [after the I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix]

1] Hamilton – 4.5 points

2] Rosberg – 2.5 points

3] Button – 2 points

4] Alonso/Bottas/Hamilton pit/Ricciardo pit/Will Stevens – one point

The 2015 Lewis Hamilton Doofus Moment Award [after the I Think I’m Turning Japanese Grand Prix]

1] Hamilton – five points

2] Bernie Ecclestone/Vettel – two points

3] Alonso/Team Ferrari/Christian Horner/Team McLaren/Team Mercedes – one point

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