Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Japan

Hamilton celebrates another Mercedes engine win

Using the superior power of his Mercedes engine, Lewis Hamilton took the lead of the Japanese GP and paraded to an easy 18.9 sec. win. Hamilton nudged his teammate Nico Rosberg off the track in the first corner allowing Sebastian Vettel up to 2nd. But the massive HP advantage of the Mercedes was too much for the Ferrari and Vettel never got close to challenging Hamilton who is now all but assured of the 2015 title.

Rosberg battled back to second and finished 18.9 seconds back, the eighth one-two parade the year for Mercedes.

The win was Hamilton's 41st, equaling hero Ayrton Senna, and right behind Vettel who can do nothing to stop Hamilton from passing him soon given the HP disparity between Mercedes and Ferrari.

Hamilton is now 48 points clear of Rosberg with Vettel falling 59 points back with his third place finish today.

The Mercedes duo power away at the start
The Mercedes duo power away at the start

Behind Vettel was teammate Kimi Raikkonen with the Williams of Bottas rounding out the top-5.

Once again Alexander Rossi (17th) beat his Manor teammate Will Stevens (18th), which was especially remarkable since Rossi had never driven at Suzuka before.

Fernando Alonso called his Honda's V6 engine as "GP2" standard, followed on this track where HP is everything.

Alonso called Honda's engine performance as 'embarrassing'.

"I am getting passed down the straight like a GP2," said Alonso. "This is embarrassing, very embarrassing."

Alonso eventually finished 11th, with Jenson Button 16th.

QUOTES

Lewis Hamilton
I'm buzzing like you could not believe. As I'm walking through after the race I've got this rush but I'm thinking about all the different experiences I've been through and the people that have helped me along the way: my family, without whom I wouldn't be here today, and everyone else that's helped me – they know who they are. As I arrived today, I knew Nico had done a great job in qualifying and I needed to get a good start. It was very tight through Turn One but from then on it was just the most beautiful day. I have struggled every year at this circuit, but I always loved it. When you have the balance and the car is doing what you want it to do, and you're attacking through the corners, there's no better feeling. The engineers and everyone in the garage did a great job. We didn't have much data to go through after practice, but the car felt unbelievable. I am really grateful to the team because without them I wouldn't be here. I also want to thank my fans who have supported me all this way, and still we rise.

Nico Rosberg
A tough day for me. It was very close throughout the corner and on the exit I had to go off the track to avoid a collision, which cost me speed and pushed me back to fourth place. After that, I was fighting for P2 today rather than the win. But I was able to push then and overtake Valtteri, which was great. The team did also a great job with the undercut of Sebastian, this worked out perfectly with a really hard out-lap on the new tires. So second place is damage limitation for me, as I had to win here in Japan to close the gap to Lewis. But I will keep pushing and try to win in Sochi now. I had lots of positives this weekend. So I will be back strongly.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
That was a great race for us and a great feeling to be back on the top steps of the podium – it feels a little bit like our first race win to me. It wasn't plain sailing at all for us today. First, there was the start – Lewis got away a little better than Nico, so they ran wheel to wheel through the first corners. That was pretty stressful to watch as they drifted out towards the edge of the track, with Nico forced to run up on the curb, and Lewis complained about some understeer in Turn Two straight after that. That left Lewis to run the race we had planned, and he pulled good gaps on each stint to make the strategy work. With Nico, it was more tricky but we pulled two different strategic moves to move him up the order; first, we played the long game with Bottas, letting him stop early and then passing him on track with fresher tires; then we were able to undercut Vettel on the second stop and claim second position. As for Lewis, he had some challenges out there, too, especially when he got a big tire vibration in the second stint after locking up, and we had to pull him in for his final set of tires. But we were able to manage the different issues today and get both cars home. Of course, this doesn't mean we can just write off Singapore and say that we are back to normal; we must stay on our toes, keep working and keep learning. But this was a good day for us, with great drives, quick pit-stops and a fantastic job from the whole team to bounce back conclusively from last weekend.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
It was great weather for the race today with the sun shining all day. Two great starts, Lewis getting away from the line slightly better and going into Turn One side-by-side, but it was good to see them both emerge from the other side in one piece. Nico unfortunately lost two positions in the battle, so we faced a difficult job to get him back to the front. During the race, there were a few issues to manage with engine temperatures and a flat spot on Lewis' second set of tires, which was through to the canvas. As always, even when you're in a position with apparent control of the race, there are always risks and worries but it was great to get both cars home, which we haven't done since Belgium. Congratulations to Lewis and Nico for some great driving today and particularly Lewis for reaching a very significant marker in his Formula One career to match Ayrton Senna's total of 41 wins.

Vettel could not touch the power of the Mercedes engine
Vettel could not touch the power of the Mercedes engine

Sebastian Vettel
All in all, today there is plenty of reasons to be happy with third place. At the second round of pit-stops, we were surprised by the outlap that Nico pulled. I guess we thought the gap was big enough, so you can't say we made a mistake. But in the end it's a bit of a shame when you cross the line; I think that if we could have stayed ahead it would have been difficult for Nico to pass, as around there it is not so easy to get close, and we saw that he struggled a long time with Bottas. But we have to accept that Mercedes were just a bit quicker and for this reason they deserved to be ahead. Nevertheless, third and fourth is a great result for the team. We got good points, and it was a strong recovery after a difficult Saturday morning.

Kimi Raikkonen
Today we did the maximum we could and, considering where we had started the race from, fourth position is the best we could get. The car was OK and we had the right speed, but on a circuit like this, when you are stuck behind other cars, it's always hard to overtake. We did a good job at the pit stop, managed to jump Bottas on the way out, and chose the right tires at the right time. I don't think we could have done much more. This kind of track is not the best for us right now, but it seems things have worked well today. There's still work to be done, but we are doing the right things and going in the right direction. Obviously, we always want to be at the top, but I think we have done an amazing job all year long and since last year. Now we keep doing the same progresses and try to improve. We take what we have got today and go to the next race trying to do the maximum.

Valtteri Bottas
Not a perfect day for us, but we will take the ten points. I was hoping for a podium, but the pace wasn't as good as we had expected. Defending from the quicker cars was hard and I think we should have pitted earlier for the final stop, but it's always easier to say that after the race.

Felipe Massa
A very tough day for me today right from the first lap. I had a bad start and then had contact with Ricciardo and it took me a long time to get back to the pits. From there it was the end of the race barring any miracle. We have scored some decent points for the Constructors' Championship with Valtteri's fifth but I had the car to contribute a good haul of points as well. We have to regroup and get those points back at the next race.

Romain Grosjean
We finished with both cars in the points so I'm definitely happy with that! When it came to my own race we were a little bit slow against the Force India. We tried to fight Nico Hulkenberg but couldn't. I really struggled with the tires at the end – it seems the new Pirelli limits hurt us more than our rivals so we'll work around that for the next race. Overall though, we've had a good result as a team.

Pastor Maldonado
It was a good race for us and we really deserved a happy result today after pushing hard all weekend. It's a shame we weren't able to keep Hulkenberg behind us so we'll review the strategy and performance to see if there was more we could have done. The team has been united all weekend, we scored some nice points and we're looking forward to the rest of the season.

Max Verstappen
It was a great race! I think the start was good and I was able to overtake Nasr straight away in Sector 1, even though he got me back in the hairpin because I got a bit blocked and I didn't want to take too many risks! That was a shame, because I then got stuck behind him for quite a lot of laps and lost some time with the other cars ahead… But after my first pit-stop I was able to push again until I got stuck behind Kvyat first, then Alonso. But I didn't give up and in the end we were able to end up in front, which is very positive. To go from P17 to P9 at a track like this one is a good result and I'm happy to have scored points again, it was a very good day!

Carlos Sainz
It was a good race until the mistake in the pit entry and I even think it was being one of my best races so far this year. It was a good first stint on the Options and an even better one on the Primes, I was really flying, catching the cars in front. Then it got to the point that it was simply impossible to overtake the Lotus on track, so we decided to go for the undercut. The team told me to do the opposite to Maldonado, and it looked like he was going to pit so I was meant to stay out on track, but he suddenly continued on track and I was so aggressive on the turn into the pit entry that I hit the bollard and damaged my front wing. I therefore lost some time during the pit-stop and if it was already meant to be a final long stint, it became an even longer one behind Perez, who was slow in the corners but fast on the straights. I destroyed my tires behind him and in the end it was all about making sure I brought the car back home. The team did a very good job and I'm sure that we would've finished higher than P10 if it hadn't been for my mistake – a rookie error that I will learn from. All in all, I'm pleased with my first Japanese Grand Prix!

Daniil Kvyat
It was pretty boring for me out there this afternoon, because a combination of circumstances meant I had to just sit back and was unable to attack. I had a completely new car, so that wasn't so easy. We had difficulties with the tires, the brakes and the overtake button, which made life complicated. In the end, I did manage to overtake some people, but it wasn't great. It's frustrating and annoying, but there was nothing I could do. Battling for P13 does not give you much satisfaction. But a big thank you to the team, they had a lot of work to do on Saturday night to get the car ready for the race.

Daniel Ricciardo
At the start, the best line for me was straight down the middle. I saw the gap between Kimi and Felipe and I knew it was close, but I thought they would make a bit of room. I haven't seen the footage and don't want to put the blame on anyone so we'll call it a racing incident for now. It's a shame for the team, I think we could have gained some positions off the line and then the race would have been completely different. But we had the puncture, and that damaged the floor so we lost some downforce. I tried to do what I could, we started to catch some cars towards the end but by then I didn't have the grip to do anything. On a positive note, even with the damaged floor, the car was handling well."

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal
It was a frustrating afternoon for us from lap one onwards. Daniel made a great start, then found himself the cheese in a sandwich between Massa and Raikkonen, resulting in a puncture, which is the worst thing that can happen on the first lap. This cost him a huge amount of time. His recovery and pace was decent after the stop for fresh tires but with no safety cars, catching up was a tough task. For Dany, it was a busy afternoon; we elected to go onto a three-stop strategy and he endured some brake issues throughout the race which caused a few lock ups and made the car quite difficult to drive, which comprised his pace throughout the race. It was a frustrating Japanese Grand Prix for the team and our first non-scoring race of the season. On another note, the boys in the garage did an incredible job on Dany's car overnight, with both sides of the garage working side-by-side to get the car ready for the race.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]MATTHIEU DUBOIS, Renault
That was a tough race to watch with both cars being virtually last after lap one with no real option to finish much higher than where we ended up, sadly out of the points. On the positive side we did not have any major problems, particularly on Daniil's car that had to be totally rebuilt from scratch overnight. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team of mechanics who did an outstanding job there. On the plus side, both cars from our sister team managed to grab points, which is good. We are looking forward to Russia where hopefully we can make much better use of our recent uptrend in form.

Alexander Rossi
It was a tough race today but I'm very happy with the outcome. I struggled a little more in the first stint, but after the first stop everything turned around and my pace was pretty good. I was right on the tail of my team-mate throughout the second two stints, and was trying to get past when Will spun. Thankfully, I was able to get out of the way, but it was a real heart-in-mouth moment that I'm sure looked every bit as dramatic from outside the cockpit as it did from where I was sitting! All in all, I'm pleased with how things are going after two races and glad we had a good race after a difficult weekend.

Will Stevens
It goes without saying that I'm disappointed with the result today. I felt I was in control up until the point of the penalty and then the spin, and that's where I lost the advantage. It's a shame, as my pace was strong all weekend, so that's what I'm focusing on and I'm looking forward to getting things back on track in Russia. I'm pleased for what is a good team result though, and that is what we were targeting here.

More to follow….

RESULTS – 53 LAPS:

Pos Driver Car Behind
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.000s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 18.964s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20.850s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 33.768s
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 36.746s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 55.559s
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m12.298s
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m13.575s
9 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m35.315s
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1 Lap
16 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
17 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 2 Laps
18 Alexander Rossi Marussia/Ferrari 2 Laps
19 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 3 Laps
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari Not running

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