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Formula 1 News - October, 2008
Team-by-team summary: Sunday, Japan

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After a fortuitous Singapore victory, Fernando Alonso emerged an unlikely back-to-back winner with a thoroughly deserved win at Fuji Speedway, aided only by the wild antics of the championship contenders. "We are now the third strongest team," the Spaniard proclaimed. Nelson Piquet finished fourth with a strong drive.



Dark horse Robert Kubica breathed life into his own title charge, now just 12 points from the championship lead with 2 races to go, but unable to match Alonso's pace in Japan. "We have been struggling a little bit recently so this is a real boost," said the Pole, who inherited an early lead after the first lap incidents. Nick Heidfeld improved his 16th grid spot to tenth at the chequered flag.



Felipe Massa had arguably the most incident-packed race of his career; a penalty for tipping championship challenger Lewis Hamilton into a spin, prodigious pace to fight back to eighth place, a tough fight against the pit straight wall with Mark Webber, and then an extra point after a stewards' investigation for his collision with Sebastien Bourdais. "Definitely not a disaster given that my closest rival failed to score points," said the Brazilian, whose deficit decreased from 7 to 5 points with two races to go. Kimi Raikkonen finished third, after a tough fight with Kubica while carrying light damage from a McLaren scrape.



Jarno Trulli finished fifth for circuit-owners Toyota, failing to keep Piquet behind him. "The lower temperatures didn't help us," said the slightly disappointed Italian. Timo Glock had a short afternoon; damaging his car on David Coulthard's crash debris and then losing it over a kerb.



Sebastien Bourdais finished a notable sixth, but a post-race stewards investigation added 25 seconds to his time for his clash with Massa. "There was nowhere else I could go," said the angry Frenchman, demoted out of the points. Sebastian Vettel followed Bourdais home after a bad first lap.



A point-less run to ninth for Mark Webber following an appalling start off the line. He ultimately defended hard against Massa's advances but lost the final championship point -- before winning it back amid the post-race Bourdais penalty reshuffle. David Coulthard was not injured in a heavy crash, triggered by a broken suspension picked up in the tussle of the opening lap.



The only Japanese driver in the Fuji field had a good weekend but picked up heavy damage in the first lap carnage and finished dead last. A minute behind the winner, Nico Rosberg finished 11th, lamenting an awful run off the line. "Our starts were great at the beginning of the season, but now they are poor," technical boss Sam Michael said.



A very bad race and no points for championship leader Hamilton, but rival Massa's problems mean he is still leading the drivers' table by 5 points with two races to go. The Briton locked up and pushed Raikkonen wide in the first corner, incurring another controversial penalty, before a collision with Massa attracted a penalty for the Ferrari but dropped Hamilton to the back of the field. "I guess things could have been worse," said team boss Ron Dennis. Heikki Kovalainen retired from third place with a rare Mercedes engine failure.



The only finisher behind the lapped Hondas, led again on Sunday by Rubens Barrichello, was Williams' Nakajima. Jenson Button enjoyed an excellent start off the grid, as did his teammate, but finished just 14th with the uncompetitive RA108. "The tyres quickly grained and he lost all of that advantage," team boss Ross Brawn rued.



Of the five non-finishers, two of them were Force Indias. Adrian Sutil had burst up to 10th from a great start when a tyre failed on lap 9. Giancarlo Fisichella also raced off the last row of the grid amid the start chaos but retired with a broken gearbox. "At least we are fighting again," he said.

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