Rosberg finally wins at Suzuka
Nico Rosberg won the Japanese Grand Prix and strengthened his lead in the Formula 1 World Championship after the ninth win of the season and his maiden at Suzuka. The Mercedes driver is now 33 points ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton with four races remaining. At the same time, Mercedes secured the third consecutive title in the Constructors’ Championship.
Rosberg was in pole position with Hamilton beside him and two Red Bulls just behind after Kimi Raikkonen who was moved back on the grid after penalty. The start was awful for the reigning champion who dropped to the 9th place before turn 1, Max Verstappen went up to the 2nd, while Sergio Perez moved up to the 3rd place. Nico Hulkenberg also started well after jumping to the 6th position.
After 10 laps, Rosberg was still followed by Verstappen but Sebastian Vettel moved up to the 3rd, Perez was 4th, and Daniel Ricciardo 5th but Raikkonen and Hamilton weren’t too far behind. It was a very interesting battle for the positions all over the track but only the battle for the first place wasn’t so exciting after Rosberg had a solid advantage.
After the first pit-stop, nothing has changed in top 3 but Hamilton now was 4th and he was running fastest laps. After 25 laps, the Mercedes driver was only 2.4s behind Vettel but almost 12s behind his teammate. It became even more interesting after Verstappen and Rosberg went in for second tires change, while Vettel and Hamilton stayed on the track. Now they were at the top, but not for a long time after Lewis pitted on lap 34 and Ferrari driver soon after. It proved to be a very poor tactic by Ferrari, again.
Rosberg had an opened door to the victory as he was never really put under pressure by Verstappen, but the Dutch teenager had mirrors full of Hamilton’s car with 10 laps to go. The reigning champion pushed hard but that wasn’t enough and Lewis finished 3rd, behind Rosberg and Verstappen.
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished 4th and 5th respectively, while Ricciardo dropped to the 6th after having troubles during pit-stop. Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa, and Valtteri Bottas picked the remaining points.
The next race is the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas and will go on 23rd of October.