Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Mercedes-AMG F1 Petronas, Red Bull, FIA | posted September 28, 2015 11:45
Hamilton leads Mercedes-AMG 1-2
After failing to score points in last week's Singapore GP, Lewis Hamilton bounced back by leading a Mercedes-AMG 1-2 in the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. The win was rather emotional for him as his 41st victory puts him on the same level as his hero, Ayrton Senna.
His win puts him 48 points ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg, who finished second. Finishing third was last week's winner, Sebastian Vettel with his Ferrari.
From the start, Hamilton and Rosberg were side by side but Hamilton locked in the faster line through turn 2, blocking out his team mate who was forced to drive on the track limits. With Rosberg running wide, Vettel and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas snuck in for second and third spot. Rosberg outdrove Bottas on lap 17 to regain a podium position. On lap 30, Rosberg's team did an undercut pit strategy to take over Vettel's second place. It would be Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel running the top three spots until the end of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen ran a quiet race, finishing in fourth behind his team mate. While Bottas was a contender early in the race, the performance of his Williams faded and had to settle for fifth. Despite being penalized for last week's collision with Felipe Massa, Force India's Nico Hulkenburg drove his way through to finish sixth place. Lotus F1 drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado haul in more vital points for the team, finishing seventh and eighth respectivly. Rounding up the top ten were Torro Rosso driver Max Verstappen in ninth and Carlos Sainz Jr. in tenth.
After racking up significant points in the Singapore GP, Red Bull Racing suffered problems throughout the race weekend. Daniel Ricciardo collided with Williams' Massa resulting in tire punctures for both drivers. Massa was on the losing end of the scuffle, with damage to his front wing forcing the team to attach a new one, costing him valuable time in the pits. With time lost nursing flat tires and repairs, Ricciardo ended the race a lap down in fifthteenth and Massa crossed the finish two laps down in seventeenth.
Like Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat ran a difficult race after crashing heavily during qualifying. Red Bull Racing scrambled to get a car ready for the rookie for the race weekend. Kvyat's crash forced the team to replace the chassis, power unit and transmission. Kvyat eventually had to settle for thirteenth place.
Fernando Alonso expressed further frustration with the Honda-powered McLarens during the Grand Prix. "it's embarrassing, very embarrassing", said Alonso over the team radio. Alonso described the engine's pace to a GP2 race car. Team mate Jenson Button described his car as a, "samurai without his shield and sword". Alonso finished eleventh while Button finished sixteenth.