There are just too many motorsport events and series to fit into a comparatively short weekend. Sadly because of this, many exciting moments go unnoticed to the oblivious racing fan. But thatâ€
“Wonderful” wouldn’t be a fitting way to describe this weekend’s events. While everyone in the Formula 1 paddock geared up for the torrential rain brought about by Japan’s seasonal weather systems, there were on track incidents that called into question the safety and management of the sport as a whole.
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Some fans and media professionals are wondering why the Japanese GP wasn’t cancelled outright, after news of the impending weather. Drivers on the other hand, have noted that conditions were in fact drivable, and not that bad. But the outcome of this weekend’s event will always seem clearer through the macro lens of hindsight.
In other series, the NASCAR Sprint Cup series rolled onto Kansas Motor Speedway’s famed tri-oval for the first event in the Contender round of the Chase, the World Superbikes slipped and slid around an incredibly wet Magny-Cours in the penultimate round of the Championship, and the World Rally Championship saw the drivers duel it out in the twisty tarmac ribbons of Alsace.
Here are some of the moments you might’ve missed.
1. Jules Bianchi in critical condition after shunt with recovery vehicle
Image: Nick Webb via Flickr
This weekend was a blemish on Formula 1’s renewed safety image. Not only were the FIA and race organisers lambasted for not bringing the start of the race forward, but the torrential rain brought about by the oncoming Typhoon Phanfone saw incidents that should’ve never happened.
With around 10 laps to go and the rain falling ever more, Adrian Sutil aquaplaned off the track in his Sauber at the Dunlop turn, colliding with the barriers forcing a recovery vehicle to brave the circuit to collect the car. While the vehicle was on the track, the stewards failed to action the Safety Car, which meant that cars were circulating at normal wet weather pace, while the circuit conditions were degrading. A lap later at the same corner, Jules Bianchi driving the Marussia, also lost control of his car and freakishly hit the recovery vehicle side-on.
There were reports that the entire roll-structure of the car was missing, which if you have ever seen a Formula 1 car roll, takes a massive amount of force to damage. The race was soon stopped, but perhaps a lap too late. Bianchi was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance, and has since undergone surgery for head trauma sustained.
Following the accident involving Jules Bianchi during yesterdayâ€
s 2014 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit, the Marussia F1 Team would like to acknowledge the huge outpouring of support and affection for Jules and the Team at this very difficult time.
With regard to the communication of information concerning Julesâ€
medical condition, we will respect, and be guided by, the wishes of the Bianchi family. Together with Julesâ€ care, they will remain our highest priority. Therefore, we would ask for patience and understanding with regard to further medical updates, which will be communicated in conjunction with the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, where Jules is being treated, when they feel it is appropriate.
Representatives of the Marussia F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari will remain at the hospital to support Jules and the Bianchi family.
There was a strange air of San Marino 1994 at Suzuka when red flag finally fell, and for one, we hope this doesn’t bring the same set of circumstances as the world saw that weekend.
Follow the Jules Bianchi well wishes and news on social media platforms using the #ForzaJules hashtag.
Update: The latest statement comes directly from the Bianchi family, and was published on Marussia’s official website on 7 October. It reads as follows:
This is a very difficult time for our family, but the messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us. We would like to express our sincere appreciation.
Jules remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. He has suffered a diffuse axonal injury and is in a critical but stable condition. The medical professionals at the hospital are providing the very best treatment and care and we are grateful for everything they have done for Jules since his accident.
We are also grateful for the presence of Professor Gerard Saillant, President of the FIA Medical Commission, and Professor Alessandro Frati, Neurosurgeon of the University of Rome La Sapienza, who has travelled to Japan at the request of Scuderia Ferrari. They arrived at the hospital today and met with the medical personnel responsible for Julesâ€
treatment, in order to be fully informed of his clinical status so that they are able to advise the family. Professors Saillant and Frati acknowledge the excellent care being provided by the Mie General Medical Center and would like to thank their Japanese colleagues.
The hospital will continue to monitor and treat Jules and further medical updates will be provided when appropriate.
2. Hamilton declared Japanese GP victor after tumultuous rain-shortened race
Image: Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Although all thoughts are with the Bianchi family at this time for the motorsport fraternity as a whole and fans alike, there was still a race that took place before the incident.
The start was delayed as the race track was too wet for the Formula 1 cars to lap safely and without incident. After around 30 minutes of waiting however, the weather cleared and the race was eventually resumed. While the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso stopped on circuit, the usual Mercedes pairing romp into the distance, with others floundering behind them.
After a well timed stop to change from full wet weather tyres to intermediates, Jenson Button found himself third.
It was only on lap 29, after hounding his German teammate, when Lewis Hamilton breezed around the outside of Nico Rosberg into the first corner, which will go down as one of the passes of the decade. The Red Bulls would jump Button at the end, and the order would remain until the race was prematurely stopped.
Hamilton now carries a 10 point lead into this weekend’s inaugural Russian GP.
3. Former F1 driver, Andrea de Cesaris, dies in motorcycle accident
Although he was probably better known for a spate of crashes that marred the first part of his career, the final race of 1982 saw de Cesaris battle Niki Lauda, which always brings about a laugh or two.
Unfortunately, de Cesaris holds the records for most GP starts without a win, but his brilliance occasionally outweighed his propensity to crash.
4. Jari-Matti Latvala breaks tarmac duck, finally wins in France
Unlike Japan, the Alsace region of the French countryside provided perfect weather for rallying, especially for Jari-Matti Latvala. After current points leader Sebastian Ogier had car troubles, with a faulty transmission system, the Finnish driver took full advantage to blitz the rest of the drivers by nearly 45 seconds. It was his 12th WRC victory, but incredibly, his first on the black stuff.
Understandably, the surfaces of the WRC rounds and indeed stages vary significantly, from gravel to snow to tarmac, which favours certain drivers and cars. Of course, choosing the correct setup for each stage is in itself, a skill, but driving one of these cars at high speed around narrow roads is a thing of beauty.
5. Guintoli, Sykes fight their teammates at Magny-Cours
Perfect weather for ducks?
Magny-Cours is a historically slippery racetrack, and even more so when wet. So when 230-horsepower two-wheeled machines tip-toe around the ice-rink of a circuit, you can bet it will be both exciting and an exhibition of skill.
Speaking of ducks, team orders is a rather common phenomenon in other forms of motorsport, but it’s not seen too often in motorbike series. This weekend saw Sylvain Guintoli struggling to keep in contact with Championship leader Tom Sykes, but Marco Melandri was in his usual warp-speed mood, making it even harder.
But while Guintoli was behind a fiery Melandri in race one, so Sykes was behind his MotoGP-bound teammate Loris Baz. Incredibly, both Aprilia and Kawasaki enforced team orders, which led to Baz and Melandri giving up their places for their teammates, and the points.
Race two however saw Melandri win the race, followed by Guintoli, in a type of team mate retribution. Sykes wasn’t so lucky though, and was passed by a charging Leon Haslam on the final lap to finish fourth. Sykes now holds a 12-point lead going into the final round in Qatar in a month’s time, and that should be a cracker.
6. Joey Logano wins first Contender round in Kansas, qualifies for Eliminator round
It seems that this incredibly complicated format to decide the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion is pulling out surprise after surprise.
Joey Logano, a man that has been in the wars in more ways than one this season, was the first man to see the chequered flag in Kansas, booking his place in the next round of the Chase. Other Chasers were not so lucky however, including former Champion Jimmy Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski, all three involved in mishaps. Of course, these three can still book their places in the Eliminator round of the Chase automatically, if they win one of the next two events. But that is easier said than done in this series.
Featured image: Nic Redhead via Flickr