Japanese GP power rankings

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Although the frontrunners didn’t deliver anything like the head-to-head between Vettel and Hamilton that we’ve been waiting all year for, there was plenty of action up and down the rest of the field, with plenty of activity and lots to consider in this week’s power rankings.

Moving on up

Daniel Ricciardo gave his fans something to cheer about after a maddening technical issue hampered his qualifying. Starting P15 he finished P4, and although he was never within striking distance of his teammate, but to be one mechanical failure away from finishing on the podium redeemed the weekend for the Australian.

Sergio Perez negotiated a hectic midfield that, thanks to a mix of strategies and safety cars early in the race, was a hive of activity throughout the race. Now equal with Hulkenberg and Magnussen on points, the sins of Singapore were erased with another best of the rest performance.

Lewis Hamilton now needs only to win in the United States, and should Vettel finish P3 or lower, Lewis will claim his 5th World Championship. If Verstappen’s declaration post-qualifying that there wasn’t really any competition left in the title battle wasn’t confirmation enough, the effortless victory this week certainly was.

Backsliding

Sebastian Vettel backed up his team’s regrettable error in qualifying with a sterling assault on the top 6, making short work of the gap between himself and the top 3. In the run up to Spoon, Vettel carried a huge pace advantage and with more patience should have passed Verstappen with ease later on the lap. It’s not that he wasn’t patient enough to wait until Max stopped to serve his 5-second penalty (the win would have been well off-the-cards by then), it’s that after a year of continual unforced errors, Sebastian again got himself into a position where his competitiveness was sacrificed unnecessarily.

Stewards had a busy one ruling on a number of incidents, none more curious than the opening lap contact between Alonso and Stroll. Despite agreeing that Stroll had unreasonably forced Alonso off the track, they also deemed that Alonso had gained an unfair advantage by leaving the track and cutting across the chicane. Both drivers were penalised, including receiving penalty points.

Suzuka’s trophy design…. I mean, I thought the Gorilla one in Italy was bad, but this takes the cake.

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