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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2007, 04:22 GMT 05:22 UK
Fuji, 28-30 September, 2007
The Chequered Flag podcast

Result after 67-lap race:

1 L Hamilton (McLaren)

2 H Kovalainen (Renault)

3 K Raikkonen (Ferrari)

4 D Coulthard (Red Bull)

5 G Fisichella (Renault)

6 F Massa (Ferrari)

7 R Kubica (BMW Sauber)

8 V Liuzzi (Toro Rosso)


By Sam Lyon

"Today Hamilton has given the right answer to every difficult question asked of him. It was Alonso that spun off, it was the Ferraris that erred at the start of the race, and it was Hamilton that saw home a flawless, brilliant victory. Tremendous stuff."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 67: It all happens at the end - Hamilton sees home a precious, precious victory, Kovalainen holds off another Raikkonen charge, and Massa snatches sixth following a tremendous tussle with Robert Kubica. To cap a disastrous race, Jenson Button retires on the final lap and the Briton will be distraught with that result.

Lap 66: Brilliant stuff from Kovalainen - Raikkonen overtakes on the inside and it looks like the Finn has snatched second at the death - but Kovalainen regains position with a brilliant manouevre on the outside.

Lap 65: Raikkonen remains primed for a move on Kovalainen and he goes for it on turn six, only for the Renault to hold off his charge. Another move is made on turn 10 but again Kovalainen defends well. Nick Heidfeld spins out and his charge is done.

"It's been a stunning performance from Hamilton, all things considered. If anything, the disruptions and interruptions did for Alonso's challenge more than anybody's and with just a few laps remaining, it could hardly have gone better for Lewis."
David Croft on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 62: Lewis Hamilton is enjoying his victory charge now, he is 14 seconds ahead of second-placed Heikki Kovalainen and if he can keep it together, a massive boost to his championship charge is well within his grasp.

Lap 60: Rubens Barrichello - looking for his first point of the season - is forced to pit from eighth and that's his hopes of getting off the mark done for.

"Of course team orders aren't allowed, so Ferrari bringing in Massa for that pit avoids all kinds of questions you would think."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 58: Ooh there's a shock - Ferrari suddenly decide Massa needs a tyre change and a touch of fuel, meaning Raikkonen has a clear run into third.

Lap 56: Raikkonen does it - he passes Coulthard on turn five to go up into fourth and moves away. Brave effort from DC, but Kimi's Ferrari just had too much for him. Raikkonen almost makes a right rickett of it later in the lap, going wide inexplicably and off the track, but he rejoins ahead of the Scot.

Lap 55: Anthony Davidson is out, retiring from 15th with the rear of his car on the right hand side hanging off. Raikkonen continues to press Coulthard, and it is expected Massa will allow him to pass into third if he succeeds, given the Brazilian is out of the championship now should Hamilton see this home.

"Could we have two British drivers on the podium?"
Nigel, Lincs via text

Lap 54: Kimi Raikkonen continues to press David Coulthard in fourth, the Scot just about holding off the Finn's charge so far. With Hamilton continuing to build his lead out in front, a quick word on Jenson Button, who has slipped down to 13th - an unfortunate return given his sparkling qualifying efforts. Ralf Schumacher comes into the pits and retires.

"Lewis Hamilton is striding away now, this race is his for the taking. What an unbelievable filip this is for his championship chances if it stays this way."
David Croft on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 51: Lewis Hamilton stretches his lead to over 4.5 seconds in just a couple of laps, the Briton lapping over 1.5 seconds faster than his rivals now. He is seven seconds ahead of Massa and 10 ahead of Raikkonen. A quick TV interview with Mark Webber suggests he is, erm, rather unhappy with Vettel. His language was 'colourful' to say the least.

Lap 49: Raikkonen is on the charge here, easing past Nick Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella to move into fifth spot. Is there enough time for him to make a charge on Hamilton's lead?

Lap 48: Once again Lewis Hamilton gets it spot on at the restart, bunching up the leading pack before striding away from the line as the safety car pulls away. Heikki Kovalainen holds off a challenge from Felipe Massa and it's as you were at the front.

Lap 47: The safety car will come in at the end of this lap.

Lap 45: Mark Webber is out! Lapping in second, Webber is hit from behind by Sebastian Vettel - he's made no friends at all this race - and the Australian spins out. Vettel is out as well with his front wing and left tyre ruined. Unbelievably unfortunate for Webber, who looked good for great points here.

Lap 44: The pit lane opens and Vitantonio Luizza comes in from fourth. Lapped cars are now allowed to overtake, which means the likes of Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato can get back into the reckoning before the safety car comes off.

"We've always said that the championship might be decided by a mistake or mechanical problem in these latter stages and that error from Alonso has put Hamilton firmly into pole position now. The Briton clearly has a problem, but any points from this race is a bonus you would think."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 41: Fernando Alonso crashes and is out! The Spaniard's car spins 180 degrees and smashes into the track wall coming out of turn five and his race is done and dusted as he sprints away from the car. It comes just after Giancarlo Fisichella pits and the safety car is deployed with Lewis Hamilton leading from Mark Webber.

Lap 40: Kimi Raikkonen comes in for new tyres from seventh, and he gets a bit of fuel while he's at it. Slow pit from the lane crew that. Kubica gets through his drive through penalty and emerges in 16th.

Lap 39: Race control announce that Robert Kubica is under investigation for his collision with Hamilton and it emerges he is handed a drive through penalty. Fernando Alonso looks to have damaged body work by his right rear tyre, surely caused by a bump of some description, possibly in his collision with Vettel. Heikki Kovalainen and David Coulthard pit.

"It's not clear if there is a problem with Hamilton's car or whether he's just not happy on the tyres. He just ran wide when he was overtaken by Kovalainen and Coulthard there."
David Croft on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 36: Alonso clips Vettel now and he drops down to 10th - it's been a disaster for the reigning champion so far. It's not going much better for Hamilton, who loses half a second on that lap and he is overtaken by Heikki Kovalainen and David Coulthard. The Briton looks to have a problem following that bump with Kubiza.

Lap 34: Brilliant work from Nick Heidfeld on turn one, the German overtaking Fernando Alonso on the inside to take on seventh place - and that's a further boost for Lewis Hamilton's championship charge. Alonso appears to be struggling on the tyres. But near disaster for Hamilton! He spins on turn 15, Robert Kubica hits him from behind, and both spin off. They rejoin immediately, but Hamilton loses position and he slips to fourth behind the Pole.

Lap 33: Sebastian Vettel pits from the lead, meaning Mark Webber takes the lead. Vettel rejoins behind Kimi Raikkonen in 10th. Alexander Wurz is the first car out of the race, claiming a minor bump with Massa.

"This is getting bad again now, conditions are getting a lot, lot worse in the past few minutes."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 31: More problems for Felipe Massa back in 17th, who runs himself off with nobody near him, before he rejoins the race - the Brazilian will be glad to see the back of this contest you feel. Nearer the front, Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica take advantage of a poor lap from Fisichella and both overtake the Italian, who drops back into sixth.

"The rain always puts a little bit of action in the couch edge and am sure we will be ticking cars of the list."
Dalitso Phiri via text

Lap 28: Well it's just a lap later for Lewis Hamilton, who comes in for a refuel, but it's top work from the Briton as he comes out in third, way ahead of the Renaults and Alonso. That could barely have gone better for Hamilton and, without chicken counting and all that, is that the race?

Lap 27: Fernando Alonso comes in - his faster laps may have been down to his lighter fuel load - and he emerges in eighth after turning off on his out lap.

Lap 25: Kimi Raikkonen goes past Ralf Schumacher to move up to 11th - good work from the Finn if, as suspected, he is fueled for the remainder of the race. Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, takes three 10s of a second off Hamilton's lead at the front, his gap now less than three seconds.

Lap 23: Button pits for a new nose cone, a lap after Takuma Sato does the same, and it looks like Jenson has fueled for the remainder of the race at the same time.

"It just isn't the Ferraris race - every decision they've made has been wrong."
Chris, Liverpool via text

Lap 21: Felipe Massa comes in for his drive-through penalty... but the big news, according to BBC Radio 5live's Holly Samos is that race director Charlie Whiting will black flag the Ferraris for not starting the race on extreme wets. Elsewhere, Jenson Button is lapping without a front wing - remarkable from the Briton who must have little to no control without it, while Mark Webber apparently has been sick in his helmet... nice.

Lap 20: Dream start for Lewis Hamilton, who emerges from turn one ahead of Fernando Alonso and he keeps his lead. It all happens behind the leaders, though, Alexander Wurz losing control and spinning out - taking Felipe Massa out in the process, though the Brazilian rejoins. There's also a problem for Nick Heidfeld, who drops out of the leading positions.

Lap 19: Conditions - miraculously - appear to be improving and the safety car will be coming in at the end of this lap. That's fantastic news for Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and McLaren, who must now build a big enough lead with their lighter cars that when they eventually pit for more fuel they can get out in front of the Ferraris...

"The lap times are actually now approaching good wet-weather times - it's now a case of whether race officials deem conditions safe enough to get the race going."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap 18: It's confirmed - it's a drive-through penalty for Massa. Not that he'll lose too much time in these conditions.

Lap 17: Race stewards are now investigating Felipe Massa's overtaking manouevre back on lap two behind the safety car. While this may not be hell-for-leather racing, you can't deny the intrigue...

"I hope they hurry up and decide what to do! If they cannot race i want them to stop now so i can go back 2 bed!"
Lisa via text

Lap 14: Kimi Raikkonen comes in to the pits - he looks to have fueled for the remainder of the race. That means, should this continue behind the safety car, all the other cars will have to come in at some point for fuel meaning he pushes up the grid automatically, and if by some miracle actual racing gets underway, he'll be fine until the end of the race. Potentially a race winning manouevre?

Lap 13: The drivers are getting through each lap at just over two minutes at the moment - I reckon I could give them a run for their money in my 206 in this... well, maybe not actually - and remember there's a two-hour limit on the race. By my rather rubbish GCSE-level mathmatical calculations that means we should get through around 58 laps - which would be enough to call this a race.

Lap 11: Antonio Luizzi comes in to change to the extreme wets and get a bit of fuel.

Lap 10: The cars continue behind the safety car, with Jarno Trulli complaining he nearly bumped into David Coulthard so bad is the visibility at the moment. The latest word on BBC Radio 5live is that Ferrari should have started on the extreme wet tyres behind the safety car - under the rules of the race director - but it is not clear whether they will face punishment for not doing so.

"We're awake but starting to wish we'd stayed in bed. Even Ralf Schumacher says it should be called off, at least until visibility is better than zero."
deb and gav via text

"The amount of money they spend on their machines, you would imagine they could handle a bit of rain?"
James, Met Office via text

Lap eight: The rain is getting steadily harder and the cars are lapping slower than Miss Daisy on a lazy Sunday drive. Given that the race is now officially underway, should it be abandoned before 75% is completed - ie 51 laps - it would appear half championship points will be awarded.

"It's pretty mad at the moment. You can't see any way they can get this going in the next half hour or so... do they just keep lapping at a snail's pace?"
David Croft on BBC Radio 5live

Lap seven: Ralf Schumacher says it is "complete madness to continue" as conditions stand, adding "you can't see your hand in front of your face".

Lap six: Raikkonen spins again, despite the new tyres, running off at turn 10 but recovering to rejoin the race. It is utterly treacherous out there.

A quick reminder - if any of you are alive and kicking at this ridiculous hour on a Sunday morning, send us your views, comment and opinions on the Japanese Grand Prix - text us on 81111.

Lap four: Talk over the team radios is that the race might be suspended, that's according to BBC Radio 5live. Jenson Button is heard on the radio claiming it is "impossible to see".

Lap three: Kimi Raikkonen is the second man into the pits - Ferrari's tyre choice was all wrong - and McLaren will be loving this.

"You don't have to be a weather expert to realise conditions are getting worse here, it doesn't look good."
Maurice Hamilton on BBC Radio 5live

Lap two: Felipe Massa comes in for the full wets on just the second lap and that might just be his race - and championship - done for. He can't now overtake and when - if - this race gets underway he'll be right at the back of the queue vying for position. Remember, if he finishes behind Lewis Hamilton today his title hopes are done for.

Lap one: Already Felipe Massa is aquaplaning and he goes off at turn four before getting back on track and resuming his position in fourth.

0532: And we're off...

0530: This is the first time a Grand Prix has started behind the safety car since Brazil in 2003 and the talk is that, with less downforce than their rivals, it will be the Ferraris that will struggle most in these conditions.

0525: Right, while technical issues are a go-go at BBC Television Centre, it's all about tyre choice and tactics at Fuji. The fog is heavy, the weather appalling, and Briton Jenson Button is positively licking his lips - he loves the wet. The cars are lined up on the grid behind the safety car and this could be another crazy race - though Hamilton won't mind things as they are you would have thought...

0515: Conditions are appalling at Fuji with the scheduled start of the Japanese Grand Prix just minutes away.

The rain is bucketing down, the drivers are complaining of rivers running across the track and the race will start behind the safety car.

The pressure is high on Lewis Hamilton, who starts from pole position is intent on stopping team-mate Fernando Alonso further eating into his championship lead, which is down to just two points.

Hamilton storms to pole position
29 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Hamilton fuels rift with Alonso
28 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Dennis puts Alonso talks on hold
29 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Hamilton leads Alonso in practice
28 Sep 07 |  Formula One
Hamilton defiant over title race
17 Sep 07 |  Formula One
How Hamilton drove Alonso to the edge
16 Sep 07 |  Formula One


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