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Nippon No Yoki Jidai.

Now, if Google Translate has done its job correctly, the heading should say “Good Times in Japan” in Japanese. Or 日本の良き時代 if you will. Last weekend the 16th race of the Formula 1 season was held on the Suzuka circuit in Japan. And good times it most certainly was.

A challenge for us European viewers when the teams move to Asia is the time difference. The qualifying session started at 7 in the morning CET on Saturday, which meant that I had to get up rather early to watch it. But who cares if you have to get up early during the weekend? If you get tired during the day, you can just take a nap. So I got up, only to realize that the session had been postponed for half an hour because of heavy rain. Then it was postponed for another half hour before the qualifying session was moved to Sunday morning, Japanese time – 3 O’Clock in the morning central European time…

But what the hell, even though it was in the middle of the night, it was still weekend, and the option to take a nap during the day if necessary was still valid. So I got up a few minutes before 3 AM to watch the qualifying. Unfortunately, watching it proved to be quite a challenge.

I’m watching F1 on Viasat On Demand this season. It’s great because I can watch the races on any computer connected to the Internet – last weekend I spent at Nesodden with Anniken. The problem was that the people managing the site had not been able to configure the postponed qualifying session in their playout system. So no Formula 1 for me in the middle of the night.

You’re probably laughing now. What kind of moron would get up in the middle of the night to watch a bunch of cars driving around in circles? Well, I would, apparently. After about 15 minutes of searching the interweb for working pirate broadcasts of channels showing the qualifying session, I found one from German RTL with decent quality.

In the end, the qualifying ended well, with Vettel in front of Webber. Hamilton qualified third, but was moved down 5 places on the grid because he had to have his gearbox replaced. Haha. During the race, he managed to break third gear on the brand new gearbox. Double-haha.

After the qualifying was over, I went back to bed, crept up to Anniken – my favorite place to creep up – and slept for another four hours before I got up again to watch the race. And it truly was a great race, with some spectacular crashes, great fights for positions and Kamui Kobayashi showing that it’s possible to overtake on parts on the track no-one thought possible – time and time again. He is now one of my favorite underdog driver.

Here are a few selected shots from the racing weekend that I borrowed from the official F1 gallery.

The next Formula 1 race will be at the brand new Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, South Korea. The fight for the championship is even tighter now than it was before the Japanese Grand Prix. Exciting!

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