Nico Rosberg dominated the pack again to take his maiden Japanese Grand Prix victory at the 5.8 kilometre Suzuka Circuit awarding Mercedes AMG Petronas constructors championship title as Lewis Hamilton finished third in the race.
Lewis Hamilton’s fight for the driver’s championship took another beating as the defending champion had a poor start that dropped him down to eighth place from his starting place of second. Rosberg who got a good start lead the pack for a majority of the race, dropping down only when he pitted for fresh tyres.
In the initial part of the race, a podium seemed difficult for Hamilton to get anywhere near a podium finish as he was chasing two quick Ferrari’s both of which got past the two Force Indias with ease, early in the race
Both Ferraris who of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel started handicapped with grid penalties. Raikkonen qualified third, but required a gearbox change for the race which dropped him down to eight for the start, and Vettel came into the race with a three place grid drop after his incident in Malaysia.
The first set of pitstops dictated the order of the race as Hamilton came out ahead of the Ferrari which gave him better track position. Raikonen lost his position after being held behind the Renault of Jolyon Palmer. Hamilton made way to overtake Ricciardo in the Redbull and was upto fifth after also passing Massa in the Williams.
Following the first set of stops by lap 18, the drivers stood with Rosberg leading ahead of Max Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Raikkonen.
As not much changed in the early part of the second pitstop window, things did get a bit interesting when Ferrari decided to keep Vettel out a little longer, which seemed unnecessary in hindsight to the result of the decision.
On lap 34, Hamilton boxed for his second set of hard tyres to try and undercut Vettel, Ferrari called Vettel in the following lap and put him of a fresh set of soft faster tyres which in theory is the faster tyre.
The decision put pressure on Vettel to perform and put him in the difficult position to do the important work on track. It was an 18 lap battle in which Vettel did close the gap to Hamilton, but the pace of the Mercedes at the exit of the corners proved to be superior to the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. As Vettel started to drop back, eventually, Hamilton started his charge on Verstappen who was also on the hard compound tyres. Hamilton until the very end pushed as hard as he could. With two laps remaining, Hamilton made his move in the penultimate corner out-braked himself to run wide.
The next lap saw Rosberg take the win to extend his championship lead, with Verstappen splitting the two Mercedes drivers on the podium with a second place finish. Hamilton’s third place crowned the Mercedes AMG Petronas team as the 2016 Formula 1 Constructors Champion.
2016 F1 Japanese GRAND PRIX (09/10/2016)
Suzuka Circuit – 5,807KM, 17 TURNS, 53 LAPS
|2||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||53||+4.978s||18|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||53||+33.941s||8|
|7||Sergio Perez||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||53||+57.495s||6|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||53||+59.177s||4|
|9||Felipe Massa||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||53||+97.763s||2|
|10||Valtteri Bottas||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||53||+98.323s||1|
|11||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||53||+99.254s||0|
|12||Jolyon Palmer||RENAULT||52||+1 lap||0|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||RENAULT||52||+1 lap||0|
|15||Marcus Ericsson||SAUBER FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|16||Fernando Alonso||MCLAREN HONDA||52||+1 lap||0|
|17||Carlos Sainz||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|18||Jenson Button||MCLAREN HONDA||52||+1 lap||0|
|19||Felipe Nasr||SAUBER FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|20||Esteban Gutierrez||HAAS FERRARI||52||+1 lap||0|
|21||Esteban Ocon||MRT MERCEDES||52||+1 lap||0|
|22||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT MERCEDES||52||+1 lap||0|