Ros­berg wins Ja­panese Grand Prix to widen lead over Hamil­ton

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg cap­i­tal­ized on a slow start by team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton to win the Ja­panese Grand Prix on Sun­day and widen his lead in the For­mula One driv­ers' cham­pi­onship.

Ros­berg, who started from pole po­si­tion, con­trolled the race through­out and fin­ished 4.9 sec­onds ahead of Red Bull driver Max Ver­stap­pen, who held off Hamil­ton in close rac­ing over the fi­nal few laps.

"The start went re­ally well," Ros­berg said. "Ev­ery­thing went well, and then it was just con­trol­ling the pits and the gaps to Max in the race. It was a per­fect week­end to win on this leg­endary track."

With four races re­main­ing Ros­berg holds a 33-point lead over Hamil­ton.

"It's bet­ter that way than the other way round but it's still Lewis that's my team­mate, so I al­ways need to reckon with him," Ros­berg said.

"He's go­ing to be go­ing for it in the last four races. There's still a long way to go."

The re­sult clinched the con­struc­tors' cham­pi­onship for Mercedes for the third year run­ning.

Hamil­ton, who started sec­ond, made another of the poor starts which has been among Mercedes few weak points this sea­son, and dropped back to eighth on the open­ing lap.

The de­fend­ing world cham­pion worked his way through the field well. Des­per­ately need­ing as many points as pos­si­ble in the cham­pi­onship race, Hamil­ton at­tempted a bold pass­ing move on Ver­stap­pen on the penul­ti­mate lap.

Ex­it­ing the Spoon curve just 0.5 sec­onds back, the Bri­ton tried a move into the chi­cane but Ver­stap­pen blocked his path, and Hamil­ton was forced up an es­cape road.

Hamil­ton complained over his team ra­dio that the 19-year-old Dutch­man had made his move too late un­der brak­ing.

"Lewis was push­ing re­ally hard," Ver­stap­pen said. "He is fight­ing for the world cham­pi­onship so you are not go­ing to do any­thing crazy things of course."

Hamil­ton said his poor start was down to wheel spin, rather than any pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the damp patch in front of his grid slot due to overnight rain.

I was just work­ing my way up from there - it was tricky but I did the best I could," Hamil­ton said. "I'm happy with claw­ing it back and get­ting some good."

It was Ros­berg's ninth vic­tory of the sea­son and 23rd in F1, mov­ing the Ger­man driver into a tie for 12th place on the all-time list with Nel­son Pi­quet.

Ros­berg started the pre­vi­ous two races at Suzuka from pole po­si­tion only to be over­taken by Hamil­ton.

Fer­rari driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel had an op­por­tu­nity to pass Hamil­ton im­me­di­ately af­ter the sec­ond round of pit­stops but couldn't do it and fin­ished fourth ahead of team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo of Red Bull, who won the pre­vi­ous race in Malaysia, was sixth.

The Force In­dia pair Ser­gio Perez and Nico Hulken­berg fin­ished sev­enth and eighth, with the team ek­ing out a 10-point gap over Wil­liams whose driv­ers Felipe Massa and Valt­teri Bot­tas fin­ished ninth and 10th on a one-stop strat­egy.

Ev­ery driver fin­ished the race, only the sev­enth time in 952 world cham­pi­onship races that has happened. points, it's

Mercedes drop Ver­stap­pen com­plaint as Hamil­ton crit­i­cises protest

Mercedes has with­drawn its protest against Max Ver­stap­pen for his de­fence of sec­ond place dur­ing the clos­ing stages of the Ja­panese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamil­ton in­sisted he did not sup­port the de­ci­sion to com­plain in the first place.

The Dutch­man came un­der pres­sure from Hamil­ton late in the race when the Mercedes driver at­tempted a pass down the in­side of the chi­cane on the penul­ti­mate lap. With Ver­stap­pen mov­ing across, Hamil­ton switched back to the out­side but would out-brake him­self and take to the es­cape road.

With Hamil­ton com­plain­ing over the team ra­dio at the time that Ver­stap­pen moved un­der brak­ing – a crit­i­cism lev­elled at the young­ster this year al­ready -, Mercedes sub­se­quently launched a protest. With both driv­ers haing al­ready left the venue, it was con­firmed the hear­ing would not be heard un­til the next round, the US Grand Prix.

How­ever, Mercedes has now with­drawn the protest just an hour af­ter it was of­fi­cially lodged in the “in­ter­ests of es­tab­lish­ing a fi­nal official re­sult once it be­came ap­par­ent that the hear­ing can­not be con­cluded today”.

The with­drawal no­tice came just mintes af­ter Hamil­ton took to Twit­ter to ini­tially hit out at the sug­ges­tion he and Mercedes were be­hind the protest, writ­ing:

“There is no protest from ei­ther my­self or MercedesAMGF1. One id­iot said we have but it's not true. Max drove well, end of. We move on.”

How­ever, when it was pointed out to him that Mercedes had in­deed in­sti­gated the com­plaint, Hamil­ton deleted the ear­lier tweet and clar­i­fied that he per­son­ally did not con­done the move and would rather see the cur­rent re­sult stand.

Mercedes driver Nico Ros­berg, cen­tre, cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter win­ning the Ja­panese For­mula One Grand Prix Photo: AP

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