Nico wins

> Ros­berg twists knife into his ri­vals and ex­tends lead with dom­i­nant vic­tory in Ja­pan

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

NICO ROS­BERG romped to vic­tory at the Ja­panese Grand Prix yes­ter­day, pil­ing more pres­sure on Lewis Hamil­ton as he closes in on a first For­mula One world ti­tle.

Ros­berg claimed his first Suzuka win from pole as Hamil­ton took third after a hor­ror start, the Ger­man stretch­ing his lead over his Mercedes ri­val to 33 points with just four races left this sea­son.

“Woooooooh!” cried Ros­berg over team ra­dio after his ninth vic­tory of 2016 and his fourth in the last five races.

“Thanks a lot, guys. An Amaz­ing week­end and con­grats on win­ning the con­struc­tors (cham­pi­onship),” he added after he and Hamil­ton wrapped up a third suc­ces­sive team ti­tle for Mercedes.

“It’s 33 points, but I’m not fo­cused on that. There’s still a long way to go so I’m just keep­ing my head down.”

Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen held off a fu­ri­ous chal­lenge from world cham­pion Hamil­ton in the fi­nal few laps to take sec­ond place, five sec­onds back, after his run­ner-up fin­ish in Malaysia last week­end.

The Fer­raris of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen came home fourth and fifth after both driv­ers turned the air blue over the ra­dio, com­plain­ing about back­mark­ers.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who in­her­ited vic­tory in Sepang after Hamil­ton’s en­gine caught fire, took sixth ahead of the Force In­dias of Ser­gio Perez and Nico Hulken­berg.

Wil­liams driv­ers Felipe Massa and Valt­teri Bot­tas fin­ished ninth and 10th on a one-stop strat­egy.

Hamil­ton, who has now failed to win since Hock­en­heim at the end of July, al­most fought back to take sec­ond as the Bri­ton tried to duck around Ver­stap­pen com­ing into the chi­cane on the last lap.

But the Dutch teenager blocked off the in­side, forc­ing the Mercedes to lock up and slip onto an escape road.

Ros­berg, whose Fin­nish fa­ther Keke won the 1982 For­mula One ti­tle, failed to con­vert pole po­si­tion into vic­tory in Ja­pan the past two years, both times los­ing out to Hamil­ton.

But he got away cleanly this time, while Hamil­ton fell to eighth, ra­dio­ing to the pits: “Sorry, guys.”

“No stress, Lewis,” came the re­ply be­fore Hamil­ton be­gan a rous­ing charge through the field to try and make up places.

Ros­berg’s progress was un­trou­bled, how­ever, twist­ing the knife with a mas­ter­ful drive as Hamil­ton’s mis­er­able run con­tin­ued.

“I got ev­ery­thing right,” said Ros­berg, who has been quick­est all week­end in Ja­pan.

“I’m well aware of the points: 33 points – it’s bet­ter that way than the other way round but it’s still Lewis and he’s go­ing to be go­ing for it in the last four races.”

Hamil­ton, who con­tro­ver­sially hinted at sab­o­tage from within the Mercedes team after his third en­gine fail­ure of the year last week, cut a for­lorn fig­ure on the podium, the 100th of his ca­reer.

“I did the best I could with where I was in the race,” he said glumly.

“I was happy to claw back some points and I’ll give it ev­ery­thing I’ve got (for the rest of the sea­son). It’s a healthy mar­gin for Nico – he did a great job to­day.” – AFP

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