Rosberg edges clear in title chase
Mercedes seal the constructors’ title at Suzuka, as a poor start costs Lewis Hamilton dearly
The back-to-back races in the Far East have played a pivotal role in the run-up to this year’s title showdown. Lewis Hamilton needed to reclaim lost ground to his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, but after that engine failure in Malaysia he came to Japan needing even more urgently to swing the momentum back his way.
At Suzuka, he tried not to let the events of the previous Sunday get to him, but clearly they had. On Thursday he larked about in the FIA press conference. Snapchat images of him and Carlos Sainz in bunny ears spread across the internet. He was then criticised by various media outlets.
As darkness descended on Saturday evening, Hamilton arrived at the print media press brieng at the Mercedes hospitality unit. There he revealed that due to what had been written about him after the FIA press conference, he wouldn’t be speaking to the media.
“The smiles on your faces will soon be no longer as I am not actually here to answer your questions,” he said. “The other day was a super lighthearted thing and if I was disrespectful it was honestly not the intention – it was a little bit of fun. What was more disrespectful was what was written worldwide. And I don’t plan on sitting here many more times for these kind of things.”
Some might argue that the pressure was starting to show as he realised the championship was slipping out of his grasp. So when he lit up the rears and fumbled his start (falling to P8 at the end of lap 1), some questioned his state of mind. Yet, when up against it, he drove brilliantly to come back to a P3 nish that could have been second but for a late block by second-placed Max Verstappen. And that was enough for Mercedes to secure their third straight constructors’ title.
On lap 6 Hamilton was still eighth, but then he passed Hülkenberg – initially by attempting a move into 130R, before using DRS on the start/ nish straight. Then he moved through the eld when Ricciardo, Verstappen, Räikkönen then Vettel all made early pitstops to switch from softto hard-compound rubber. On lap 13 Hamilton was running second to Rosberg, but when he