Failings in Fuji open up title race

Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa continue to damage their championship hopes with mistakes.

Powered by automated translation

Whichever one of Lewis Hamilton or Felipe Massa misses out on this year's world championship will have a lot to look back on with regret over the winter. This has been of the most thrilling, yet also oddest, championship scraps in recent times and Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix only served to heighten the excitement in this most unpredictable of seasons. Both drivers made blunders at Fuji, and for both it was not their first error either.

In the days leading up to the race all Hamilton had spoken about was saying calm, racing well and driving for points and consolidating his lead. Yet within seconds of the start the McLaren man was driving like a madman, nearly causing a massive first corner crash as he rashly out-braked himself and ran wide as he tried to get back in front of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Yes, it wasn't the ideal scenario having Massa's teammate in front of him, but it really wasn't worth wrecking his afternoon as he subsequently got a pit drive through penalty for his antics.

By then, though, it mattered little as Hamilton was at the back of the pack after Massa had spun him around on lap two. The Brazilian went for a gap that really wasn't there as attempted to get back past the McLaren and he fully deserved his own pitlane penalty for that avoidable collision. Massa did well to get back to a points finish, and was fortunate indeed that the stewards decided to penalise Sebastien Bourdais rather than him for their lap 50 coming together.

This has been a good title race, but it is unlikely to be remembered as a great one in the future when this year is recalled. It does look as if it is going to come down to who is going to make the least mistakes being the world champion and that just doesn't seem fitting somehow given the title is supposed to decree who is the very best in motorsport. It is meant to be about recognising excellence - not mediocrity.

Robert Kubica has been in an uncompetitive BMW for much of the second half of the season as his team decided to focus on next year's car, yet he is still a championship contender thanks mainly to the lead pair and their teams throwing away points. On paper, 12 points seems a tough ask for Kubica to pull back, but a repeat of Fuji in China this Sunday will put him right in the hunt. Both Hamilton and Massa will need to raise their game in Shanghai with the stakes now at their highest.