Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton defeats Nico Rosberg
On a wet Suzuka track Lewis Hamilton defeated Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to win the Japanese Grand Prix shortened by an accident for Jules Bianchi and bad weather.
Rosberg led for the first 28 laps of a race that began behind the safety car, thanks to a very wet track.
When the race got going on lap 9 Rosberg held a small advantage over Hamilton as the two dominant Mercedes streaked clear in the spray.
Rosberg easily held off Hamilton on extreme wet weather tires, but did not like his intermediate tires when circuit conditions improved.
He held Hamilton off until lap 29 but made a slight twitch coming onto the start-finish straight, lost enough momentum and Hamilton, his Drag Reduction System giving him an extra 20 mph on the straight, swept around the outside of his teammate to take the lead through Turn 1.
Hamilton, a better wet weather driver than Rosberg, then pulled away to take his third consecutive grand prix victory in a race that was red-flagged for a second time under the safety car, after Jules Bianchi's Marussia went off at Turn 7 where he hit the crane the marshals were using for Adrian Sutil's Sauber following an earlier crash.
The Marussia driver was taken to the hospital unconscious.
"The driver is not conscious, he has been sent to the hospital by ambulance because the helicopter cannot go in these conditions," said FIA press officer Matteo Bonciani.
Sutil said Bianchi had gone off in a similar manner to his own incident.
"I had aquaplaning at this corner and the rain got more and more, the visibility got less and less," Sutil told television crews.
"One lap later with waved yellow flags Jules came around and had the same spin there, and that was it.
"It was more or less the same crash, but the outcome was a bit different.
"[The tractor] came out to rescue my car, and then it all happened.
"It hit him hard. That is all I can say. I have no information about how he is but I really hope for him that it is all OK and my thoughts are with him.
"I was just standing there. We know that it is serious at the moment."
Jenson Button, who finished fifth, said it was clear as drivers passed the scene that the incident was serious.
"The most important thing to say is that we hope Jules is alright. Our thoughts are with Jules," he said.
"A horrible incident. It is an incident you hope it never happens in Formula 1.
"I saw the Marussia behind the crane, and it was very damaged, which was surprising. But that was it.
"I just heard he hit the crane. It's pretty horrible and our thoughts are with him and his family right now."
Red Bull deliberately compromised its dry qualifying pace by setting the RB10 up for the wet, and its drivers used this to good effect to finish third and fourth.
Ferrari-bound reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, despite a trip through the gravel at the Esses, while teammate Daniel Ricciardo beat Jenson Button's McLaren to finish fourth.
More to follow......
Sebastian Vettel (3rd): "Everything that happened with the racing on track is secondary today, one of us is in a bad shape and we don't yet know how he is. Jules had a bad accident and we hope to have some very good news, very soon. Not knowing what's going on feels terrible, I think all the drivers really feel with him, as we know how difficult and slippery it was today; we hope for the very best."
Daniel Ricciardo (4th): "Right now we're all thinking about Bianchi and that's the biggest concern for us. We heard he had a pretty big crash and it's not nice when we don't know if the driver is okay. The race was tricky, it wasn't going too badly and the set-up we had for yesterday paid off. We tried a few different things with the strategy, but Bianchi is my main concern at the moment."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "For the race, it was a strong race performance by the team with both drivers making great progress and some fantastic overtaking moves. Third and fourth are competitive results. We looked a lot more competitive in the wet conditions, which tend to be a great equalizer."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "First and foremost, we are all thinking of Jules and hope for good news. For us, the race was a big challenge given the changing weather conditions. Seb and Dan were able to come back to the front with impressive overtaking throughout the race. The main task for the team was to manage the tires based on forecast, lap time and driver comments. For us, it was a very busy race looking after the energy management of the power units with such changes in grip and track conditions."
Lewis Hamilton (1st): "Our first thoughts go to Jules - it overshadows everything else when one of our colleagues is injured and we are praying for him. Next to this, the race result doesn't seem significant at all. Nico and I had a tough battle, we were pushing really hard. I had a big moment at Turn One when I was too late getting off the DRS as I was just pushing so hard but fortunately I was able to get back on track. The conditions were difficult throughout but I had more pace than Nico today and could follow him quite comfortably in the early stages. This is not an easy circuit for following another car or for overtaking, but he made a mistake out of the last corner and I was able to pass. The whole approach then needed to change to look after the tires and make sure I stayed in the lead until the end of the race. But like I said, that's not what matters today; our thoughts are with Jules."
Nico Rosberg (2nd): "My thoughts are with our colleague Jules and his family and team-mates, and we are hoping for some positive news. Today was a really tough race with the wet conditions. I struggled a lot with the balance of my car on the intermediate tires, so I had to push hard to keep Lewis behind me. I had a lot of oversteering which is why the rear end of my car was very nervous. That was really strange and I didn't have the necessary confidence in the corners; we need to look into that in the next few days. It meant that Lewis was quicker today and deserved the win. It was damage limitation with losing only seven points to him. For the team it was a good result with another1-2."
Paddy Lowe: "Our thoughts are now with Jules Bianchi as we wait for more news of his condition. We had predicted a difficult race from the moment we saw the forecast for this weekend but the weather didn't prove as bad as we had perhaps expected. It was a tricky start behind the Safety Car but then much of the race unfolded in intermediate tire conditions. We pulled out a lead at the beginning which meant we were able to shadow our competitors with the pit stops and let the drivers battle it out on track. They had a hard dice and Lewis managed an impressive overtake at Turn One. In conditions like we saw today, a one-two finish is a good achievement for the team. I would also like to thank the fans, who were fantastic in their support this weekend - as always in Japan - and who make it such a pleasure to race here. But most importantly of all, we are all hoping to hear some positive news about Jules soon."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "At this stage, the only important thing is that Jules Bianchi is okay and recovers; the sport is not as important as that now."
Kimi Raikkonen (12th):
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Electrical):
Marco Mattiacci, Team Principal:
Romain Grosjean (15th):
Pastor Maldonado (16th):
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:
Jenson Button (5th): "For me, the race doesn't really matter today. I haven't seen anything of Jules' accident, but the most important thing to say is that all our thoughts are with him, his family, and his team right now. It's an accident that you hope never happens in Formula 1."
Kevin Magnussen (14th): "Let's really hope that Jules is okay. It's such a bad feeling when something like this happens, so let's hope and pray for him. We did the best we could today, but we had an unfortunate problem with the steering wheel, which basically dropped me out of the race. I tried my best to come back, and get some points, but unfortunately it wasn't possible to do so."
Nico Hulkenberg (8th): "Up until the final laps my race was going pretty well: I had good pace and a good feeling with the car. We made some progress early on, pitted late and we were able to jump a few cars in the first stop. I can't say it was a very eventful afternoon for me; I was on my own for most of the time. The conditions were pretty difficult right from the start: visibility was pretty poor, even if you were in the first half of the pack. It was probably the same for everyone because it's always a challenge in the wet. When the final safety car came out we decided to pit again as I had already been out on those tires for a long time and I needed new rubber to finish the race. I am happy to get points after a difficult Saturday; we made up for it today. Suzuka is a difficult track to race on in the wet because there are lots of places where you can aquaplane and have a moment. I didn't see what happened in the accident that ended the race, but I hope Jules is OK."
Sergio Perez (10th): "The conditions were very difficult today. When we started the race I could not even see the car ahead of me. To begin with, it was just a race to avoid aquaplaning and trying to keep the car on the track because the visibility was very poor. Our strategy was working quite well, but I think we were unlucky to make our final stop, which dropped me down a couple of positions. Like everybody my thoughts are with Jules and I hope we hear some good news soon."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "Our thoughts at the moment are with Jules Bianchi and we hope to hear positive news regarding his condition. It was a very dramatic race with action going on throughout the pack as the track dried initially before the rain returned. We took a risk at the end to pit both cars as the safety car came out, which would have protected us in the event of a restart. Both drivers drove very maturely and scored points, but everything has been overshadowed by the incident that brought the race to a premature end. Jules and everybody at Marussia are firmly in our thoughts at the moment."
Esteban Gutierrez (13th):
Adrian Sutil (21st, Accident):
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering:
Jean-Eric Vergne (9th): "I was very happy about my race until I was informed about Jules' accident. Getting some news about him is all that matters at the moment. As for myself, starting from the back of the grid and ending up in the points at the end is a great achievement. Today, in such racing conditions, it was really difficult not to make mistakes, while driving as fast as possible, trying to be quick, but I believe that myself and the team did an excellent job."
Daniil Kvyat (11th): "The only important thing this evening is that I hope Bianchi will be ok. It was a tricky race today with the rain. The general performance of the car was good, but unfortunately our strategy didn't quite work out and with the safety car and red flag towards the end of the race, my chances for a points finish were gone."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "Our drivers' performance in the Grand Prix seems secondary today, as we all await news of Bianchi's condition. We scored another 2 points, which is quite positive for the team. Jean-Eric Vergne started from the back of the grid because of our 6th engine change, which meant for him a ten grid positions penalty. However, he showed a very good performance, driving a fantastic race, catching up and finishing in the ninth position. Without the red flag I reckon he would have finished in an even better position but nevertheless to score points is really a great result for him and the team. Daniil Kvyat was also always within the points but unfortunately we called him in just before the safety car was deployed, so he lost some positions. Even though he managed to overtake Raikkonen, this was not enough to score the points that he deserved. Today Daniil drove his first very wet race and he showed a great performance and capability to control the car in very difficult racing conditions. This makes me think that we really have been a good school for him, on his way to Infiniti Red Bull Racing next year."
Ricardo Penteado, Renault: "Today we pushed everything to the limits, particularly on the fuel side. We changed the ICE on JEV's car and had to take a hit and start from the back of the grid so to score points is a brilliant drive yet again. Daniil also did well and had some good fights throughout. Of course we are all waiting for news on Jules."
Valtteri Bottas (6th): "It was not an easy race for us today, however we still got some points which is good. The car wasn't great in the wet but we made the most of the strategy and extracted what we could. We are missing pace in the corners and so conceded a lot of time. It was a surprise to see the Red Bull so quick, in the dry we would have fared better. I really hope Jules is ok after the incident and that it is nothing serious."
Felipe Massa (7th): "The race was very difficult today, I suffered at the start with aquaplaning and towards the end it started to get dark as the rain fell again. The Red Bulls were too fast for us today, especially on the intermediate tire, so there was no chance we could defend. My main focus at the moment is that Jules is ok though."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: "Our first concern is for the wellbeing of Jules, we hope that everything is ok. In the race we made some good strategy calls and as a result we extracted what we could and finished in a decent position. The conditions were difficult at the start and equally at the end as it got dark. However, our thoughts and hopes are with Jules, his family and friends, and the Marussia team."
Marcus Ericsson (17th): "It was a crazy one! Today's weather made it a difficult race â€š the track was undriveable at the beginning behind the Safety Car, that's why they red-flagged it. Unfortunately, I had a spin and I lost all my advantage from yesterday because of it, which was a big disappointment. But after that I think I drove a fantastic race, our pace was very strong and I just had to redo the job I did yesterday and overtake all the guys again, and that's what I did. I overtook them one by one and we even had the pace to fight with the rivals ahead of us, so we should be really pleased with the speed and the pace we had today. Result wise, we should not be pleased because we want to be higher up and with the speed we had we could've achieved this today, but it's definitely a step forward and something to build on in the upcoming races. Overall, we can be very happy! I hope Jules wasn't badly injured in his accident, all thoughts are with him."
Kamui Kobayashi (19th): "First of all I'd like to say that I hope Jules is okay and that his crash wasn't too bad. Today's race was a difficult one for me; overall I think I didn't have enough pace. Unfortunately my home Grand Prix didn't really work out as I would've liked it to, but today was okay and it was amazing to see all the fans in the grandstands even though it hasn't stopped raining all day â€š they are just incredible and they gave me a big boost and I want to thank every one of them! The crazy weather made it a bit hard, but we managed to fight. Marcus also did a very good job. The team can be pleased with our overall performance, we are improving."
Cedrik Staudohar, Renault: "We really didn't know what to expect coming into today. The main issue was finding the right fuel load before the start of the race, but calculations were near-on impossible considering we had very wide-ranging weather forecasts and possibilities of safety cars and a shortened race distance. This aside, every component of the Power Unit worked pretty well and we extracted maximum performance given the conditions. We were not as high up as we would have liked but we hope to build on this next time out in Russia. More importantly, all our thoughts go to Jules Bianchi right now."
RESULTS - 44 LAPS (RED FLAG):
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