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Spanish Grand Prix
Fuji Speedway, Fuji, 10-12 October 2008



Final positions after 67 of 67 laps:

1. Alonso (Renault)

2. Kubica (BWM Sauber)

3. Raikkonen (Ferrari)

4. Piquet (Renault)

5. Trulli (Toyota)

6. Bourdais (Toro Rosso)

7. Vettel (Toro Rosso)

8. Massa (Ferrari)

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE
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By Sarah Holt

0712: Well, yet another surprising race in Japan with plenty of thrills and spills - though not sure Hamilton and Massa will see it quite that way. So, we move on to China next week where quite frankly anything could happen.

After back-to-back victories in Singapore and Fuji, Alonso has to think seriously about where his future lies. He is still contracted to Renault for next season but has yet to confirm he will stay.

Anyone reckon he can make it three in Shanghai? See you next week, when we'll find out.

0711: "What a great win for Fernando! Well done to him and the Renault team, not forgetting Nelson in 4th place as well. A very good race to watch. Glad I got up to watch."
LordWoz on 606
Indeed Lord Woz, indeed.

0707: Felipe Massa hangs on to a single point in eighth place to close the gap on championship leader Lewis Hamilton to six points. Things could hardly have been worse for the McLaren driver, who comes home in 12th. Kubica, by the way, is now just 12 points off the lead with races still to come in China and Brazil.

0705: You wouldn't have put your money on that result eh? Alonso heartily applauds himself in the cockpit as he takes the chequered flag with shouts of "yes, yes, yes." The placid voice of the Renault radio says, "well done mate". High praise indeed. For the second time in two races, Alonso is on the top of the podium.

Robert Kubica takes second for BMW Sauber, following Alonso across the line five seconds behind. That's eight vital championship points for the Pole, who is still in the title hunt.

Kimi Raikkonen takes third for Ferrari, but he is out of championship contention now and the Finn kisses goodbye to the defence of his title.

Lap 67: FERNANDO ALONSO WINS THE JAPANESE GRAND PRIX FOR RENAULT

Lap 66: Alonso heads out on his lead lap and has his second straight win in his sights.

Lap 65: Oooh that was very, very tight Massa. The Brazilian chooses to pick off Webber down the inside on the main straight but it was very close indeed. Webber tries to fight back but the Ferrari is off and away to chase down Vettel in seventh, which could be a bit hopeful. Massa is in the points for the moment but the stewards are still going to have a look at his tangle with Bourdais after the race, which means nothing is guaranteed.

Lap 63: Massa reduces his gap to 2.5 secs now while at the front never-say-die Spaniard Alonso is nursing his Renault home for a remarkable second win in a row.

Lap 62: Massa is chasing Webber hard for eighth place but there is no chance of any points for Hamilton, who is trundling around one lap behind leader Alonso.

Lap 60: Massa moves up to ninth as he sneaks past Heidfeld's BMW Sauber. He's just one place away from a point now. The Brazilian is seven points behind championship leader Hamilton and, with two races left to go, every point counts.

It has been a bit of disaster for the main protagonists in the title race in Fuji. Hamilton and Massa were both penalised for incidents in the first two laps; and Hamilton in particular won't be too pleased with himself after a poor start saw him wipe out any of the advantage he had from taking pole position.

Lap 57: With Alonso leading the race for Renault, team-mate Piquet looks like he fancies a slice of the podium pie too (sorry...). The voice of the team radio says: "You're less than a second behind - let's see what we can do."

Lap 54: Raikkonen and Kubica are having a right ding-dong battle for second place. Raikkonen keeps nibbling at the BMW Sauber but Kubica defends hard and the Finn has to bide his time for now. More bad news for Massa - who is now 12 seconds away from a championship point - as he apparently faces another investigation for the incident involving Bourdais. Poor old Felipe.

"There is a question mark about Massa because when things go wrong he seems to lose the plot. He has to go for whatever he can pick up here after another eventful afternoon for the Ferrari driver." BBC 5 Live analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 52: Piquet pits from the lead, handing first place back to Alonso.

Lap 51: Big mistake by Massa coming into Turn One. It looks like he just doesn't see Sebastian Bourdais's Toro Rosso - they touch and Massa spins. Has that cost him some vital championship points?

Lap 50: Trulli steams into the Toyota pits from the lead and nearly knocks over some of his crew - just manages to slam his brakes on in time though. Phew. Piquet is back in the lead.

Lap 48: Raikkonen pits from the lead, handing the baton on to Trulli again - get ready to cheer Toyota home fans. Title contender Massa is back in the points by the way but Hamilton is a lap behind the leader down in 12th.

Lap 46: Kubica returns to the BMW Sauber pits from the lead and that bumps Raikkonen up into the lead. You might remember the Finn took the title from under Hamilton's nose last season; a victory in Japan would set him on his way to more of the same here. It looks pretty unlikely though as the Ferrari pit crew emerge ready to receive him.

Lap 43: After setting another new fastest lap, race leader Alonso comes back to the Renault pits. Kubica takes over at the front but immediately comes on the radio complaining dramatically to his team about understeer. Alonso emerges back in sixth behind some traffic.

"He's going to have a lot of work to do as he knows Kubica can run five seconds longer but the gap he pulled out should be enough." BBC 5 Live analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 41: Hamilton returns to the McLaren pits from 12th place and puts on a set of soft tyres. Massa passes Webber for 10th place on the main straight and kicks up a scattering of debris as he does so.

Lap 36: Race leader Alonso stretches his lead over Kubica to 11 seconds now.

Lap 34: Hamilton passes Button down the main straight and he's up into 13th now. Meanwhile, after an extremely long first stint, Webber returns to the Red Bull pits.

Lap 31: Alonso is pulling away from Kubica at the rate of over half a second a lap.

Lap 30: Massa squeezes round Button's Honda and up into 12th. Hamilton is now stuck behind the trundling Brit down in 14th - 2.5 secs adrift.

Lap 28: Piquet pits from the lead to hand the mantle on to that man Alonso - he can't win two in a row can he? Alonso anxiously asks: "Who are my main competitors for the win?". The radio answers, "Kubica." Alonso is really putting his foot down - his lead now 7.8 secs.

Lap 26: Now then, what about those title rivals? Massa is down in 13th with Hamilton breathing down his neck in 14th - both of them will have to go some to get in the points in Fuji. Button's Honda is doing a fine job of getting in Massa's way which allows fellow Brit to eat into the gap.

Lap 25: Bourdais pits from the lead which now passes to Piquet, who is yet to stop.

Lap 23: More bad luck for the Force Indias as Fisichella trundles back to the pits, meanwhile unfortunate Finn Kovalainen tells BBC 5 Live his engine blew up. He adds that he saw metal coming out of his exhaust, "which is never a good sign." Indeed.

Lap 22: Trulli pits from the lead leaving Bourdais and his Toro Rosso to take over the lead in this most topsy-turvy of races.

Lap 19: Massa comes in to serve his penalty. Meanwhile, an over-excited voice on the Renault radio tells Alonso to "sprint like hell" to stay ahead of Kubica, who is looming behind him in sixth place. Apparently, the BMW Sauber man is fuelled for four laps longer than the Spaniard.

Lap 18: Race leader Alonso comes in to the pits leaving Trulli in charge at the front - that will please the home Toyota fans. Massa comes back in for another pair of soft tyres and fuel BUT not to serve his penalty.

Lap 17: Some important news just in. Hamilton receives a drive through penalty for forcing Raikkonen wide at the start while Massa is also handed a penalty for his collision with Massa on lap two. Well, well, well. Meanwhile, Kubica and Raikkonen return to the pits to see Alonso assume the lead. Hamilton comes in to serve his penalty.

Things gets worse for Ron Dennis and crew as smoke wafts from the rear of Kovalainen's McLaren. He's out of the race.

Lap 12: Uh-oh. The race stewards ominously announce that they are investigating Raikkonen, Massa and Hamilton, presumably for incidents at the start and the overtaking move on lap two between Massa and title rival Hamilton.

Lap nine: Raikkonen cleanly overtakes Trulli's Toyota to move up to fourth. The Ferrari man said he wanted the win today and right now he's 4.7 secs behind leader Kubica. Hamilton may be running back in 17th now but he's nipping along at a decent pace despite being fuelled up to the hilt.

Sutil joins Coulthard and Glock back in the garages as his Force India comes to a halt handily near the pit lane.

Lap five: Many apologies for the delay in updating you but what an absolutely bizarre start to the Japanese Grand Prix. After a terrible start and incident with Massa, Hamilton has fallen backwards from pole to 18th place.

The world championship leader has an awful lot to do if he is to get back in the race and the McLaren strategists must really think on their feet here. Meanwhile, Raikkonen sets the new fastest lap in fifth place.

Lap two: Hamilton tries to overtake Massa at the hairpin and does get past his Ferrari - but not for long. The two cars make contact and Hamilton spins and stalls on the track. What a disaster! The Englishman returns to the pits and takes on some new tyres and a glug of fuel.

Lap one: What a start in Fuji. Raikkonen tries to squeeze past Hamilton at the start but ends up being pushed wide in a chaotic start to the race. Coulthard and Nakajima collide and peel off onto the grass. Coulthard's race is run. In the resulting melee Hamilton falls back to sixth as Kubica takes the lead. More soon...

0532: Off we go as polesitter leads off the Japanese Grand Prix.

0530: The cars peel away from the grid to warm up their tyres on the formation lap. Looks like Massa is starting on the soft tyres with most of the other frontrunners starting on the harder options. Hmmm interesting.

0529: "My heart says Lewis for the win today. The voices in my head say Raikonnen."
Flamefox1989 on 606

0526: Weather update: no rain is forecast to fall during the race. Temperatures are a quite lowly 22C.

0525: I'm no Beth Ditto when it comes to the gossip but there are a couple of rumours milling about the paddock in Japan. First up, McLaren's partners Mercedes are being lined up to supply engines for Force India from next season. Nothing has been confirmed yet but McLaren boss RD said: "Some form of colloboration will emerge over the next few days."

After axing Canada, scheming F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is already thinking about his next calendar changes. Reports say he's planning to add an Indian Grand Prix to the schedule in 2009 with a race in Russia to follow soon afterwards. He's ruled out any more night races for now though.

0522: The grid begins to clear as the home Toyota fans go, um, crazy in the stands. Lots and lots of flag waving and jumping up and down around a man dressed up in a giant Jarno Trulli head. No sign of a Timo Glock though - unless a large teddy bear represents the cuddly German.

0516: A hush falls in Fuji as the Japan national anthem is sung rather pleasantly by a lady in a floaty, white dress; described by BBC 5 Live's David Croft as a "meringue".

0511: The skies look pretty overcast and, well, grey in Fuji. McLaren boss Ron Dennis tells BBC 5 Live's Holly Samos he reckons the gloomy conditions could favour McLaren because they will be able to get their tyre temperature up to speed quicker than Ferrari. Asked whether he has any last-minute advice for Hamilton he says: "It's his lead - he knows what to do."

0505: "If Hamilton goes all out, he can win the race and pretty much knock the stuffing out of the title race. However, if he plays safe that's when his mind is gonna start playing tricks on him."
Villeneuve27Alesi on 606

0500: Ahh the noise of F1 engines first thing in the morning. The cars hurtle out of the garages and take to the Fuji Speedway to practice their starts as they wend their way to the grid.

0450: At the risk of being a merchant of doom - and of repeating myself - it's still worth looking back at exactly how last season panned out post Japan. Hamilton controlled a wet race in Fuji perfectly to take the chequered flag and extend his championship lead by 12 points.

But a mistake and retirement in China and gearbox problems for Hamilton in Brazil saw Raikkonen claw back a 17-point deficit and steal the title.

With Hamilton leading the 2008 title race by seven points from Massa, McLaren are adopting a more cautious approach during the run-in - or what the team's tongue-twisting chief exec Martin Whitmarsh describes as a "necessarily more risk-averse" strategy.

Hamilton isn't one to hold back though.

"I'm going out for the win that's for sure - it's in my nature," he says. "But I think I'm a bit wiser and I'm definitely looking to the championship and not just this race. I think a one-two for the team is well overdue, so that would be fantastic."

Team-mate Kovalainen starts in third and it's likely the friendly Finn might well have to set about the task of holding up Massa.

Nonetheless, he reckons: "My target is not to help Lewis and certainly I have no instructions from anyone in the team. [McLaren boss] Ron (Dennis) has told me to drive as I want to - but I want Lewis to win the drivers' championship. He needs to do his job and I'll try to score maximum points for the team."

0445: Yawning... morning fellow early risers, I trust your Formula One alarms did their job? Now then, there's no time to hit the snooze button because the Japanese Grand Prix gets under way in less than an hour.

Lewis Hamilton is on pole while title rival Felipe Massa is back in fifth with defending world champion Kimi Raikkonen, Heikki Kovalainen and Fernando Alonso sandwiched in between the main protagonists.

With just three races left to go, all the ingredients are in the mixer for a cracking race under the shadow of Mount Fuji. Let's get to it then.


see also
Alonso wins as title duo collide
12 Oct 08 |  Formula One
I paid for mistake, says Hamilton
12 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Pressure tells on Hamilton
12 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Japanese GP photos
12 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton snatches pole in Japan
11 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Glock overshadows F1 title rivals
10 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton refreshed for F1 climax
09 Oct 08 |  Formula One
US & Canada snub angers F1 teams
10 Oct 08 |  Formula One


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