Lewis Hamilton extended his narrow Formula 1 world championship lead by defeating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to victory in a Japanese Grand Prix shortened by an accident for Jules Bianchi.
Having lost out to Rosberg in an all-silver battle for pole in the dry on Saturday, Hamilton turned the tables in the wet Suzuka weather of Sunday with a brilliant round-the-outside passing move on his bitter F1 title rival.
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 team-mate Daniel Ricciardo overcame Jenson Button’s McLaren to finish fourth.
Button held third spot for most of the first half of the race, after being the first driver to pit for inters, but he lost time to a steering wheel change at his second stop, which dropped him behind Vettel, before Ricciardo further demoted the Brit with a firm pass on the inside of the hairpin on lap 43 – a lap before the result was taken.
Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa started third and fourth, but both struggled badly in wet conditions and trailed home sixth and seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India stopped at the end of the pitlane as the race was red-flagged for the final time, but he finished eighth on countback, while Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne charged from the back of the grid to claim two points for ninth.
Ferrari took zero points from the race. Kimi Raikkonen finished 12th, while Fernando Alonso retired with a mechanical problem under the safety car before the race began properly.
Final Results: 44 Laps – Red Flagged
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1h52m12.143s||29.122s|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1h52m21.839s||38.818s|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1h53m38.969s||1m55.948s|
|9||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1h53m50.659s||2m07.638s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||–||1 Lap|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||–||1 Lap|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||–||1 Lap|
|13||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber/Ferrari||–||1 Lap|
|14||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren/Mercedes||–||1 Lap|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Renault||–||1 Lap|
|16||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus/Renault||–||1 Lap|
|17||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham/Renault||–||1 Lap|
|18||Max Chilton||Marussia/Ferrari||–||1 Lap|
|19||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham/Renault||–||1 Lap|
|20||Jules Bianchi||Marussia/Ferrari||–||Spun off|
|21||Adrian Sutil||Sauber/Ferrari||–||Spun off|
NEWS & QUOTES
Bianchi taken to hospital after crash – Marussia Formula 1 driver Jules Bianchi has been taken to hospital unconscious following an accident during the Japanese Grand Prix, when he went off at the scene of a previous crash for Adrian Sutil.
Kimi Raikkonen – “Overall, this was a very disappointing weekend. I had set-up problems right from the first day and again today in the race I didn’t manage to drive the way I would have liked. After the start behind the safety car, the track conditions were pretty atrocious and visibility was very poor, but my car was handling okay. Then, when the rain eased, I fitted the intermediate tyres, but after a few laps, they were no longer up to temperature and they began to give me problems at the front end, which meant I had to slow down. Now, we will try and resolve this problem as quickly as possible and aim to improve, starting with the very next race, but more importantly right now, let’s hope we get some good news about Jules Bianchi soon.”
Marco Mattiacci, Ferrari team principal – “For our team, this weekend was unfortunately characterised by reliability problems, yesterday on Kimi’s car and today on Fernando’s. With Kimi, we paid the price for not having been able to get his car configured as well as possible in the third free practice session. That meant he suffered with balance problems throughout the race. Today, with Fernando, we had a bit more of a chance and what happened today just underlines the fact that we must improve the car. However, at the moment, all this is of secondary importance and all our thoughts are only with Jules Bianchi.”
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director – “It’s disappointing to finish the weekend without scoring points, but our biggest concern tonight is what happened to Jules Bianchi. We still don’t know much but it looked very serious. As for our race, Fernando’s only lasted a couple of laps, probably because of a problem with the electrical system, however we will need to wait until we have the car back for confirmation. Kimi’s main problem was graining on the front tyres. At the pit stop he lost valuable time because of a problem with the front right, but even without that, I think his finishing position wouldn’t have been that much different. Today’s conditions were definitely not easy and what happened here highlights just how important it is to work on the reliability of the car.”