In Japan, Mercedes won their third consecutive constructor’s championship. Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag and extended his championship lead to 33 points from Lewis Hamilton, who finished third behind the young Max Verstappen.
It was Nico Rosberg’s fourth victory after the summer break. The German was faster than anyone else on Saturday’s qualifying session and took the pole position. He started and finished the race from the first place. No one was able to challenge Nico, even when Verstappen closed the gap to almost two seconds, Rosberg put his foot on the throttle and increased the difference between them.
Lewis Hamilton had a bad start, he dropped from the second to eighth position. During the first laps, Hamilton struggled to find the pace and fight back to gain position. On the seventh lap, Lewis passed Nico Hulkenberg and moved up to seventh place, where he remained until his first pit stop. Mercedes made the right call to pit Hamilton on lap 14 and they gave him an advantage compared to his rivals.
When the British rejoined the track he was in front of Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, it took him a few seconds to catch and pass Ricciardo and move up to the fourth position. Hamilton was almost 14 seconds behind Sebastian Vettel, who was third. On lap 32, Lewis managed to reduce the gap to just four seconds. Mercedes decided to pit the Brit on the next lap.
Vettel remained on the track for one more lap. Ferrari decided to take a risk and swapped from hards to softs. When Sebastian re-joined the track, he was behind Lewis Hamilton. The German closed the gap, but he couldn’t find the space and the pace to attack. After a few laps, Vettel decided not to attack and secure the fourth place.
At the same time, Hamilton closed to Max Verstappen for the second position. The Dutch showed once more his great defending skills. During the nine final laps, Hamilton was within a DRS zone from Verstappen, but the Brit could not get too close.
The British made a last attempt on the final lap on the outside line at the chicane, but he didn’t have the space to break and went straight on.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified third, but he got a five-place grid penalty because Ferrari had to change his gearbox. The Finn had a good fight with Daniel Ricciardo for the fifth position and with Ferrari’s good strategy he managed to secure it.
McLaren wanted to have a better weekend in Japan, as it was a home race for Honda. Alonso and Button finished 16th and 18th respectively.
Nico Rosberg remained focus to his aim, he controlled the race and secured the victory which gave him a 33 points advantage from Hamilton. Now Lewis has to win the remaining races and hopes that his team-mate will lose points.
Next race will take place in Austin.
Victor Archakis F1 Editor
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)