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Five things we have REALLY learnt from the Japanese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton puts hands together in heart shaped position above head.

The race is probably one we could easily forget, not enough drama one would say. We have seen Sebastian Vettel struggling, again, Lewis Hamilton extending his advantage and Red Bull’s double trouble Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen snatching podium places. Jolyon Palmer wasn’t oh-so-jolly anymore as he finished his racing career with Renault – or even his Formula One career – and his successor ‘Little Alonso’ Carlos Sainz didn’t finish the race at all. You’d think a race summarised in two sentences isn’t worth reviewing – well you are wrong. Here is what we have really learnt from the Japanese Grand Prix.

1. Lewis Hamilton is a Mo Farah fan

Knowing Hamilton’s preference for having the coolest guests in his paddock, it was no surprise we spotted the well-known ‘Colgate smile’ of Olympic legend Farah flashing up amongst his crew. The two have known each other for a long time and posed together mimicking Farah’s ‘Mobot’ gesture already at charity event in London in 2012. The Olympic gold medallist’s excitement being back together with his pal was all over his social media accounts where he wrote: “So awesome catching up with this guy. Hope to see @lewishamilton on the podium later!!!”
As the time arrived, Suzuka winner Hamilton spotted Farah in the crowd and the two went on simultaneously putting their hands on their heads in the famous heart-shaped pose. If that is not a sign of affection then what is?

 

2. Max Verstappen doesn’t send Christmas cards to fellow drivers

Asked by reporters if he would remove Felipe Massa from his Christmas card last after the Brazilian made his life difficult for an hour he replied all serious: “I don’t send Christmas cards to other drivers.”
He should might reconsider his decision, as an act of kindness would surely help the two getting along. The young Dutchman and the experienced Brazilian have had some issues in the past already. Earlier this year their rivalry enkindled in Bahrain when Massa dived inside Verstappen’s space during qualifying. The 20-year-old refused to comment on it afterwards and just joked: “Well, he is a Brazilian.” That, again made Massa furious and here we go.
A little bit over a month ago the two collided at Monza, which made the Red Bull driver finish 10th. It seems like a never ending story, which could have a happy ending only if one of the hotheads complies.

3. Sebastian Vettel calms his ponies for once

The biggest surprise of Suzuka was not Vettel retiring, but him staying worryingly calm. One knows that the German can get deadly furious, yet, the more goes wrong the calmer is the Ferrari pilot. To clarify, he is now 59 points behind Hamilton – so there is not much hope left for the Championship – after crashing in Singapore and two consecutive engine failures. Additionally, he could face a ten-place grid penalty for the upcoming race if failing to attend the national anthem of Japan results in another reprimand – he has two already. But instead of acting Vettel-like and blaming everyone else around him he took one for the team:“It’s normal you’re critical, especially if things go wrong, so it’s part of our job,” Vettel told Sky Sports F1. He added: ”I think I need to protect them. We’ve done an incredible job so far.”

 

4. According to Jolyon Palmer “there is plenty of life outside F1”

In case you are wondering why this is a new revelation you should consider that Formula One was basically Palmer’s life from 2014 up to now. That means he was living the F1 reality over 20 weeks a year and that is just counting the races – not speaking of testings etc. Being dropped by Renault means he will return to a totally different reality. The Brit had spent three years with Renault – which was previously Lotus – and went through a tough season trying to deliver in an underperforming car. According to Renault he failed to do so and will be replaced by Carlos Sainz, as soon as the US Grand Prix. Four races left to the end Palmer told Sky Sports F1 he “would love to see out the season and finish what (he) started”. The 26-year-old from Horsham remained all professional saying: “I respect the decision and wish the team all the best for the future and Carlos (Sainz) the best.”
We certainly wish Jolyon Palmer all the best and can’t wait to see him back on track, again.

5. You can play real-life Mario Kart on Tokyo’s streets

It is normal for F1 drivers to practice under all sorts of conditions, but Tokyo offered a testing experience on a whole new level. Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll shared a laugh when they turned the game into real life when they raced friends around the packed streets for a Sky Sports shoot. They even mimicked the legendary game’s appearance as two of the four racers wrapped up in fancy dresses a la Donkey Kong and Mario’s archival Bowser. For all karting and Super Mario enthusiasts, there is no better way of Tokyo sightseeing than in Go-Karts and fancy dress. All you have to do is booking the once-in-a-life-time-experience with MariCar and hope for your driving skills to live up to the standard of one of the busiest roads in the world.

 

Featured Image © COPYRIGHT STEVE ETHERINGTON

Ena Bilobrk
Ena was born in Munich to a Croatian family, which helped making contacts in the small country’s sporting world from early on. The wish for pursuing a career in sports journalism carried her all the way to London, where the 22-year-old studied journalism at the University of Westminster. During her degree Ena wrote articles for Dalmatinski Portal, a Croatian news website, which included reporting on the Croatian national team playing Argentina in a friendly match at Boleyn Ground in November 2014. A work placement with Sky Sports News followed; there, she translated Jürgen Klopp’s first interview as Liverpool manager - initially in German - making Sky the quickest media outlet to have his managerial words in English. During the placement Ena also regularly wrote articles for the broadcaster’s website. Covering the ATP finals and the Race of Champions, both in 2015, boosted her confidence and she got to publish her first by-line on the Guardian's website. After graduating from Westminster she decided to move back to Munich to broaden her expertise in German sports. Ena spent the time back home working for Sky Bundesliga and FC Bayern Basketball. Eventually she decided to return to the (grass) roots of journalism training and started a masters degree in Sports Journalism at St Mary’s University Twickenham where she is currently writing for the Sports Gazette. Ena writes about European football, tennis, motorsport and makes occasional side trips to the world of rugby and cricket.
https://enabilobrksport.wordpress.com
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