2015 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix Champion :
Lewis Hamilton #44 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton #44 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Lewis Hamilton had hoped to equal his hero Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 race victories in Singapore, but in the end he did it at Suzuka - an altogether more appropriate venue given that the great Brazilian sealed all three of his world championship crowns there.
Victory on Sunday ensured the Briton of a hat-trick of wins in Japan, though like Senna only two of Hamilton's triumphs have come at Suzuka, with his other coming at Fuji in 2007.
Hamilton now has eight victories this season and needs just three more over the remaining five races to equal his personal best tally of 11 from last year.
What’s more, the championship leader’s advantage over team mate Nico Rosberg now stands at 48 points. Since 2010, when the current scoring system was introduced, no driver has overhauled more than a 24-point deficit over the final five Grands Prix.
Speaking of Rosberg, the German recorded his sixth second place finish of the season - and 16th over the past two years. The Mercedes driver has now spent 1,033 of his 9,697 Grand Prix laps to date in second place - considerably more than he’s spent in any other position.
In a similar vein to Rosberg, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has spent more time in third place this season (289 laps) than any other position, so it seemed only fitting that he should record his fifth third-place finish of the year at Suzuka. The German now has seven Japanese podium finishes to his name - one for every Grand Prix he’s competed in at Suzuka - and is just two off Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Elsewhere, Nico Hulkenberg equalled his best finish of the season with a fine sixth place, and is now just one point back from Force India team mate Sergio Perez in the drivers’ standings. The Mexican meanwhile finished outside the top ten for the first time in four races.
Behind Hulkenberg, Lotus recorded just their second double points finish of the season, with Romain Grosjean seventh and Pastor Maldonado eighth. Toro Rosso also got both cars home in the top ten, for the second race in a row and the third time this year.
Toro Rosso’s race was in stark contrast to stable mates Red Bull who saw neither of their cars score points for the first time since last year’s Australian Grand Prix, 32 events ago.
And finally, speaking of things that haven’t happened for a long time, Sunday’s race was the first since the 2011 European Grand Prix in which every car was a classified finisher. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the only driver not to take the chequered flag, but he had completed well over 90 percent of the race distance and hence was included in the results.
After passing pole-sitting team mate Nico Rosberg into the first corner, Lewis Hamilton never looked back in Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, easing to victory as Mercedes finished one-two ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen was a distant fourth in the sister Ferrari, just ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg took sixth for Force India, followed by the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. The closely-matched Toro Rossos of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz completed the top ten.
It was all action at the start. As Rosberg dropped down to fourth behind fast-starting Vettel and Bottas, Hamilton opened up an advantage that he maintained to the end. The world champion was 18.9s ahead at the flag, after Rosberg had fought back to get the undercut on Bottas and then Vettel during his two pit stops.
Hamilton’s third victory in Japan - and his 41st overall, moving him level with Ayrton Senna’s tally - means he now has 277 points to Rosberg’s 229 and Vettel’s 218, with five races left.
Mercedes’ return to form was emphatic, but Vettel fought bravely and was always a threat to Rosberg as they battled through late-race traffic. In the end the Ferrari was only 1.8s adrift of the second Mercedes, as team mate Raikkonen was a further 13s down the road in the other SF15-T after getting the undercut on Bottas during the second stops.
Bottas’s fifth was some consolation for Williams, who effectively lost Felipe Massa at the start when he tangled with Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull approaching Turn 1. Both were out of contention for the rest of the afternoon as they limped back to the pits, the Brazilian with a punctured right-front tyre, the Australian with a punctured left rear.
Nico Hulkenberg drove a smooth and impeccable race to sixth for Force India, ahead of Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado who were seventh and eighth, 1.2s apart.
Max Verstappen was dropped from 15th to 17th on the grid for parking his stricken Toro Rosso on the racing line in qualifying, but fought through to an excellent ninth ahead of Toro Rosso team mate Carlos Sainz, whom he passed at the chicane on the 45th of the 53 laps. The Dutchman lost a lot of time initially bottled up behind Fernando Alonso’s McLaren and the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat, who started from the pit lane after his heavy qualifying shunt. Verstappen eventually passed Alonso round the outside of Turn 1, and set after his team mate, who had been delayed after hitting a marker cone on the pit entry prior to a stop, necessitating a nose change.
Alonso expressed his frustration at a lack of power several times over the radio, but his gritty drive eventually yielded 11th, just outside the points. The battle for 12th, meanwhile, featured four cars and was eventually won by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who fought back from an off at Turn 1 on the opening lap when he got shoved wide after clashing wheels with Sainz. The Mexican passed Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, who also got overtaken by Kvyat even though the Russian complained that his Red Bull had no brakes at various points of the afternoon. The Swede clung on to 14th ahead of Ricciardo, who spent all afternoon fighting back.
It was a miserable race for Jenson Button, who couldn’t better 16th in the other McLaren ahead of the recovering Massa, while Alexander Rossi pushed Marussia team mate Will Stevens all the way and eventually took 18th ahead of him after the Englishman’s spectacular half spin in 130R. Stevens very nearly collected Rossi as he recovered, then had to sweep into the pits to serve a penalty for speeding there in his second stop. But he took 19th as Felipe Nasr retired his Sauber in the closing stages to become the race’s sole non-finisher.
2015 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix - Race Result
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||+55.559s||8|
|9||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso||+95.315s||2|
|10||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||+1 lap||1|
|11||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren||+1 lap||0|
|12||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||+1 lap||0|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull Racing||+1 lap||0|
|14||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Sauber||+1 lap||0|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||+1 lap||0|
|16||Jenson Button||GBR||McLaren||+1 lap||0|
|17||Felipe Massa||BRA||Williams||+2 laps||0|
|18||Alexander Rossi||USA||Marussia||+2 laps||0|
|19||Will Stevens||GBR||Marussia||+3 laps||0|
2015 Formula 1 Drivers Championship standing
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull Racing||73|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull Racing||66|
|10||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India||39|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India||38|
|12||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso||32|
|15||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Toro Rosso||12|
2015 Formula 1 Teams Championship standing
|4||Red Bull Racing||139|