Nico Rosberg wins F1 Japanese Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton third

Nico Rosberg strengthened his grip on the lead of the Formula 1 drivers' title race with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix as another slow start undermined team-mate Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg wins F1 Japanese Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton third

From the 30th pole position of his F1 career Rosberg produced a faultless drive at Suzuka to claim his 23rd win, and ninth this season to open up a 33-point cushion over Hamilton with only 100 now to play for from the final four races.

Hamilton could only manage third, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen taking second as 5.7s covered the top three at the chequered flag.

The result sealed a third successive constructors' championship for Mercedes after it failed to clinch it in Malaysia last Sunday when Hamilton's engine blew.

Hamilton's hopes of a third successive win at this track were over after the first few seconds.

Following overnight rain, come the start of the race there were still damp patches on the circuit, with one of those being Hamilton's grid box, and the three-time champion showed some concern beforehand.

Once the five red lights disappeared Hamilton then bogged down and was swamped, slotting into eighth and apologising to his team shortly afterwards.

While Rosberg enjoyed the lead, what followed was damage limitation from Hamilton, who passed Nico Hulkenberg on lap seven before making up another two places at his first pitstop to get ahead of Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton then soon cleared Ricciardo to leave him with Verstappen and Vettel in between him and Rosberg after all the opening pitstops in which the leaders took on the hard tyres.

Come the second round of stops Hamilton again made up ground, getting ahead of Vettel by pitting before the Ferrari.

Mercedes again gave Hamilton the hard tyre, while Ferrari switched Vettel to softs in an aggressive move, but despite a couple of laps of pressure from the latter he was unable to get close to make a move on the former.

Vettel's irritation over backmarkers this season reached new heights in this race as the four-time champion was continually on the radio bemoaning being held up, and by the end he could only claim fourth, 14.4s behind Rosberg.

Hamilton did close to within a second of Verstappen on lap 44, and on lap 52 he made a move into the chicane, but was forced to take the escape road as the 19-year-old moved to the inside to defend as they hit the brakes.

Behind the leading quartet, Raikkonen, who started the day with a five-place penalty for a gearbox change after qualifying third, and Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth.

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

JAPANESE GP RESULT

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 53 1h26m43.333s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 53 4.978s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 5.776s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 20.269s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 53 28.370s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 53 33.941s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 53 57.495s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 53 59.177s
9 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 53 1m37.763s
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 53 1m38.323s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 53 1m39.254s
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 52 1 Lap
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 52 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 52 1 Lap
17 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
18 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 52 1 Lap
19 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
20 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
21 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 52 1 Lap
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 52 1 Lap

DRIVERS' STANDINGS

Pos Driver Points
1 Nico Rosberg 313
2 Lewis Hamilton 280
3 Daniel Ricciardo 212
4 Kimi Raikkonen 170
5 Max Verstappen 165
6 Sebastian Vettel 165
7 Valtteri Bottas 81
8 Sergio Perez 80
9 Nico Hulkenberg 54
10 Felipe Massa 43
11 Fernando Alonso 42
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. 30
13 Romain Grosjean 28
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 19
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Jolyon Palmer 1
18 Pascal Wehrlein 1
19 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
20 Esteban Gutierrez 0
21 Marcus Ericsson 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0
24 Esteban Ocon 0

CONSTRUCTORS' STANDINGS

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 593
2 Red Bull/Renault 385
3 Ferrari 335
4 Force India/Mercedes 134
5 Williams/Mercedes 124
6 McLaren/Honda 62
7 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 47
8 Haas/Ferrari 28
9 Renault 8
10 Manor/Mercedes 1
11 Sauber/Ferrari 0


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