Hamilton cruises to victory in Japan

By on Sunday, September 27, 2015
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Lewis Hamilton cruised to his eighth victory of the year after passing Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton prevailed over Rosberg into Turn 1 and pulled away, enabling him to draw level with Ayrton Senna on 41 Formula 1 wins.

Rosberg recovered to second after dropping down to fourth while Sebastian Vettel was just a couple of seconds further back in third.

Hamilton and Rosberg battled into the first corner, with Hamilton taking the lead after adopting the inside line. Rosberg tried to hang on around the outside but lost ground to Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, dropping down to fourth.

Further back, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa made contact off the line and both sustained punctures, while a squeeze at Turn 1 left Sergio Pérez running through the gravel.

Hamilton increased his lead to seven seconds across the opening stint of the race and maintained his advantage when the drivers made their first round of stops.

Rosberg stayed in fourth after the stops but immediately pushed and dived up the inside of Bottas at the Casio Triangle, catching the Finn by surprise and moving into third.

Rosberg closed in on Vettel across the second stint and stopped one lap earlier than Vettel, using the undercut to pass the Ferrari driver through the pits, as Hamilton retained a commanding lead.

Hamilton ultimately cruised to victory by 18 seconds, with Rosberg and Vettel on the podium.

Kimi Räikkönen jumped Bottas for fourth position, while Nico Hülkenberg picked his way through the Turn 1 drama and jumped both Lotus drivers for sixth.

Lotus collected seventh and eighth from a difficult weekend with Romain Grosjean ahead of Pastor Maldonado.

Max Verstappen passed Carlos Sainz Jr. for ninth, though the Spaniard was delayed after he clipped a bollard on his way into the pit lane.

Fernando Alonso voiced his frustration with McLaren’s package, labelling his Honda unit as a ‘GP2 engine’ as he battled valiantly to 11th, while Pérez recovered to 12th, having been stuck behind Marcus Ericsson.

Ericsson spun early on and was later caught out in traffic and dropped to 14th, behind Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.

Ricciardo limped to 15th, ahead of Jenson Button, Massa and the Manor Marussia pair of Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens.

Stevens had been ahead but spun at 130r and almost collected team-mate Rossi, while he was demoted further by a time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Sauber driver Felipe Nasr pulled into the pits late on after an uncompetitive showing.

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