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Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix to close in on third world title

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix to close in on third world title
Sep 27, 2015, 8:05 AM

Lewis Hamilton took a lights-to-flag victory in the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vette...

Lewis Hamilton took a lights-to-flag victory in the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to claim his 41st Formula 1 win.

Hamilton, who equals his hero Ayrton Senna’s victory tally on the track where the legendary Brazilian enjoyed so much success, got a slightly better start than polesitter Rosberg and drew alongside him as they ran down to Turn 1.

Rosberg attempted to hang onto his lead around the outside of Turn 2 but was forced wide by the world champion and dropped behind Vettel and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas as he lost momentum on the outside kerbs.

Suzuka start

Behind the leaders, Daniel Ricciardo launched off the line and tried to squeeze between the second Williams of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Contact between the Red Bull and Massa immediately gave them both punctures and they were forced to crawl back to the pits.

Sergio Perez flew off at Turn 1 as he turned across the front of the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and his Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg on the inside and was punted off into the gravel trap. The Mexican recovered to the pits and was able to continue.

Hamilton set about establishing a comfortable lead over Vettel and led by seven seconds by the time the Ferrari driver pitted on lap 14. Rosberg pitted a lap later but emerged still behind Bottas in fourth and was forced to dive down the inside of the Finnish driver at the final chicane on lap 16 to move up to third.

As Hamilton continued to stretch out his lead over Vettel, Rosberg closed on his fellow German and stopped on lap 29 after being told to “do the opposite of Vettel.” The Ferrari driver was called in a lap later but emerged just behind the Mercedes and dropped to third.

 Nico Rosberg

Hamilton pulled out his lead to 18.964s by the end of the race to claim his third Japanese Grand Prix victory and his second at Suzuka. Vettel attempted to pressure Rosberg into destroying his tyres, but had to settle for the final place on the podium.

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “For me to come here to a race at a track where I used to love watching Ayrton drive to match his wins [is something] I can’t really describe. It doesn’t feel real at the moment.

“It was important for us to strike back [after Singapore]; the Ferrari was so quick in the last race. I guess we didn’t bring our A game [there], so we had to step back and make sure we brought it here. The car was beautiful to drive today.”

 Suzuka podium

Speaking about the start, Rosberg said: “Lewis just got a better start, fair play, and then it was a good battle into Turn 2 and he had the inside and just made it stick, so that was the end of it there. It was great to fight back to second because fourth place would definitely not have been acceptable, but second was the best possible thing after that, so I was happy with the fightback.

“[The championship] is definitely going the wrong way and I had to win today. That was important but it didn’t work out, so I need to try and win next time out.”

Raikkonen shuffled Bottas down to fifth at the final round of pitstops and they held station to the flag. Hulkenberg finished sixth, ahead of the battling Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado in seventh and eighth.

The Toro Rosso drivers rounded out the top ten after both had long battles with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Max Verstappen then claimed P9 from his teammate with a late move at the final chicane as he recovered from an electrical failure in qualifying. Sainz also had an eventful race that included a front-wing change after the Spaniard hit a cone on the way into the pitlane.

Max Verstappen

Alonso ended a difficult weekend for McLaren at the home track of its engine supplier Honda in eleventh and angrily told his team that he was running a “GP2 engine” after Verstappen swept around the outside of his car into Turn 1 on lap 26.

Perez recovered to 12th, ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who started from the pitlane after his qualifying crash. The Russian was also told he had a reliability issue that prevented him from using the optimum engine settings and the Russian driver also used some choice words to describe the tyre wear on his car on his way to 13th.

Marcus Ericsson survived another spin at the Spoon curve, his second of the weekend, to finish 14th, just in front of the recovering Ricciardo. Jenson Button came home 16th in the second McLaren after being regularly swamped by cars on the straights and Massa finished two laps down in 17th.

Alexander Rossi

Alexander Rossi beat his Manor teammate Will Stevens to 18th after the British driver spun spectacularly at the 130R corner and was given a five-second penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Felipe Nasr was the only driver not to complete the race distance as he stopped his Sauber with just one lap left to run.

Japanese Grand Prix Results:

Pos

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h28m06.508s

2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +18.964s

3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +20.850s

4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +33.768s

5 Valtteri Bottas Williams +36.746s

6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +55.559s

7 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1m12.298s

8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +1m13.575s

9 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1m35.315s

10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 Lap

11 Fernando Alonso McLaren +1 Lap

12 Sergio Perez Force India +1 Lap

13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull +1 Lap

14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 Lap

15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1 Lap

16 Jenson Button McLaren +1 Lap

17 Felipe Massa Williams +2 Laps

18 Alexander Rossi Marussia +2 Laps

19 Will Stevens Marussia +3 Laps

20 Felipe Nasr Sauber Not running
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton Shop Now
Teams McLaren Shop Now