Japanese GP: Hamilton squeezes out Rosberg to score eighth win of 2015

Lewis Hamilton extended his F1 World Championship lead with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, his second success at Suzuka on the trot.

Hamilton's victory wasn't without incident, however, as he ran polesitting teammate Nico Rosberg over the kerbs at the second corner of the race.

Rosberg was forced to lose places to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas as a result.

Rosberg battled back to second, outbraking Bottas and then undercutting his way past Vettel during the second round of pitstops.

Kimi Raikkonen came through to finish fourth for Ferrari, ahead of Bottas.

Story of the race

Poleman Rosberg was reported to be suffering from a headache and neck pain, but led the field towards Turn 1 until Hamilton bullied past him at Turn 2, running Rosberg out of track over the exit kerbs.

Before the first corner, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa got punctures with a collision off the startline, while Force India's Sergio Perez was punted up in the air at Turn 1, and also suffered a puncture.

Perez made it back to the pits first, despite a trip through the gravel at the first corner, ahead of Ricciardo and Massa, whose front-right damage was severe and took him an age to limp back to the pits. Ricciardo, who rejoined 19th, was told his floor was "slightly damaged".

Hamilton led Vettel by 1.6s by the end of lap one, ahead of Bottas, Rosberg and Raikkonen. Lotus's Romain Grosjean was sixth ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hulkenberg – who started with a grid penalty following his clash with Massa in Singapore – and McLaren's Fernando Alonso.

Carlos Sainz's Toro Rosso passed Alonso for ninth at Turn 1, with Marcus Ericsson's Sauber following suit at the start of lap six. "Embarrassing, very embarrassing," complained Alonso. Ericsson later spun at Spoon, dropping him out of the points.

Easy life for Hamilton

Hamilton extended his lead with ease, pulling out a gap of over 5s on Vettel by lap 10. Meanwhile, fourth-placed Rosberg was told: "Engine temps are high, causing damage" and was told to back off for five laps.

Hulkenberg pitted from eighth on lap 10, while Bottas pitted early on lap 11 in an attempt to stay ahead of Rosberg.

Vettel pitted for the hards on lap 13, making it a Mercedes 1-2 with Hamilton 12.8s ahead of Rosberg, and Nico complained of a vibration from his right-front tyre. Rosberg then pitted on lap 15 for hards, rejoining behind Bottas in fourth.

Hamilton pitted on lap 16 and rejoined well clear of Vettel to the tune of 7s. Rosberg was flying on his fresh tyres and attacked Bottas for third, slicing past him at the Casio Triangle on lap 17.

Rosberg set his sights on Vettel, who was 4s up the road. "Let me know if I should race him hard," asked Vettel. Further back, Raikkonen caught Bottas for fourth.

Raikkonen undercut Bottas when the Williams pitted after the Ferrari on lap 30.

Max Verstappen passed Alonso around the outside at Turn 1, assisted by DRS, to take 10th position. This prompted Alonso's "GP2 engine, GP2 – argh!" outburst.

Sainz then needed a front wing change as he clouted the bollard on the way into the pits.

Vettel had a huge lock-up at pit entry for his second stop, but nothing could stop Rosberg undercutting him, who had been told to "do the opposite of Vettel".

Hamilton pitted on lap 31 for the hards, having run mediums for his first two stints and complained of "massive vibrations" before his final stop. He quickly rattled off a fastest lap as he resumed, leading Rosberg by over 10s, but reported that his car was "getting very hot".

Vettel was 2.5s in arrears of Rosberg in third with 15 laps to go, with Raikkonen clear of Bottas and Hulkenberg.

Hamilton's only scare in the closing stages was debris that got wedged in his front wing, but that couldn't stop him from scoring his 41st Grand Prix win.

Rosberg finished 18.9s in arrears, with Vettel less than 2s behind.

Raikkonen headed the battle of the Finns over Bottas, with Hulkenberg sixth, ahead of Grosjean, Maldonado, Verstappen and the recovering Sainz.

Alonso was 11th, from a combative Perez, brake-limited Kvyat, Ericsson, Ricciardo and Jenson Button.

Alexander Rossi finished 18th for Manor, ahead of teammate Will Stevens.

Felipe Nasr was the only driver to fail to finish, with a technical failure on his Sauber in the closing stages, but he was a classified finisher.

1 Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 1:28:06.508
2 Nico Rosberg  Mercedes +18.964
3 Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari +20.850
4 Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari +33.768
5 Valtteri Bottas  Williams +36.746
6 Nico Hulkenberg  Force India +55.559
7 Romain Grosjean  Team Lotus +1:12.298
8 Pastor Maldonado  Team Lotus +1:13.575
9 Max Verstappen  Toro Rosso +1:35.315
10 Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso +1 lap
11 Fernando Alonso  McLaren +1 lap
12 Sergio Perez  Force India +1 lap
13 Daniil Kvyat  Red Bull Racing +1 lap
14 Marcus Ericsson  Sauber +1 lap
15 Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull Racing +1 lap
16 Jenson Button  McLaren +1 lap
17 Felipe Massa  Williams +2 laps
18 Alexander Rossi  Manor +2 laps
19 Will Stevens  Manor +3 laps
20 Felipe Nasr  Sauber +4 laps

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Japanese GP
Track Suzuka
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg , Sebastian Vettel
Article type Race report