Lewis Hamilton collected his eighth win of the year after an incisive move on Nico Rosberg at the first corner. Here, F1Zone.net provides its driver ratings from the Japanese Grand Prix.
44 | Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes | G: 2nd | R: 1st | 10/10
Lock-up into the hairpin on his first run proved costly in qualifying as he was denied a second lap by Daniil Kvyat’s crash. Hamilton was assertive at the start and kept his foot in it at Turn 2, taking a lead which he would not relinquish and after which he was utterly dominant.
6 | Nico Rosberg | Mercedes | G: 1st | R: 2nd | 8/10
Rosberg was more of a match for Hamilton than usual and clocked a lap when it mattered to ensure he profited from the red flag. However, he was pushed aside at the first corner and from there was on a recovery drive; move on Valtteri Bottas was incisive.
3 | Daniel Ricciardo | Red Bull | G: 7th | R: 15th | 6/10
Ricciardo was happy with the feeling of the RB11 though felt a top five spot on the grid was possible. He surged forwards at the start and dived between Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa but made contact with the Williams driver and his race was run.
26 | Daniil Kvyat | Red Bull | G: Pits | R: 13th | 3/10
Kvyat, who topped wet Friday practice, had been flirting with the grass throughout qualifying and it bit, sending him into a frightening flip after hitting the barriers. That left him at the back and from there it was just a recovery drive, one which he labelled ‘boring’.
19 | Felipe Massa | Williams | G: 5th | R: 17th | 6/10
Massa was adrift of Bottas in qualifying but his race was done early on when he drifted into the path of Rosberg and suffered a puncture, tootling around at the back of the pack.
77 | Valtteri Bottas | Williams | G: 3rd | R: 5th | 8/10
Bottas pulled out a stellar first lap in Q3 and it proved vital following Kvyat’s crash. Unfortunately for Bottas, Williams’ race pace wasn’t as strong and he slipped behind Sebastian Vettel at the start before losing out to Kimi Räikkönen later on.
5 | Sebastian Vettel | Ferrari | G: 4th | R: 2nd | 9/10
Vettel would have had a grin on his face when he eased by Bottas into Turn 1 and that would have become larger when he swept by Rosberg exiting Turn 2. He was in second place but admitted Rosberg’s out lap caught him by surprise and he dropped to third, albeit retaining his strong Suzuka record.
7 | Kimi Räikkönen | Ferrari | G: 6th | R: 4th | 6/10
Räikkönen was disappointed with his qualifying effort – a common theme – but moved ahead of Massa at the start after the Brazilian was removed from contention. A lonely race followed, gaining a place from Bottas through the second pit stop phase.
14 | Fernando Alonso | McLaren | G: 12th | R: 11th | 9/10
Alonso suggested that his qualifying lap was the best he’d ever driven at Suzuka but the limitations of the package left him 14th. Alonso’s race performance was superb but lack of straight line speed was his hindrance and he voiced his frustration for maximum effect.
22 | Jenson Button | McLaren | G: 14th | R: 16th | 7/10
A communication error left Button on the back foot in Q1 and Max Verstappen’s stoppage rendered that mistake costly as he was eliminated. He was a sitting duck on the straights but could have finished higher had he not got stuck in the pack.
27 | Nico Hülkenberg | Force India | G: 13th | R: 6th | 8/10
Hülkenberg was adrift of his team-mate over one lap and his penalty hangover from Singapore dropped him further. Hülkenberg was aggressive at the start but it paid off and he later jumped up to sixth to collect a strong result and arrest his declining form.
11 | Sergio Pérez | Force India | G: 9th | R: 12th | 7/10
Pérez once again had the measure of Hülkenberg in qualifying though was frustrated not to be able to set a lap in Q3. Pérez was muscled wide at Turn 1 and ran through the gravel, from there on it was a recovery job.
33 | Max Verstappen | Toro Rosso | G: 17th | R: 9th | 8/10
Verstappen looked at home at Suzuka but an engine issue in Q1 stranded him on circuit and left him lower than he deserved. Verstappen fought back and he put in a typically feisty display to net a couple of points.
55 | Carlos Sainz | Toro Rosso | G: 10th | R: 10th | 7/10
Sainz was involved in the scrap for the lower positions but he pushed too hard upon entering the pits and clipped the bollard, costing him a new front wing and, more crucially, 16 seconds. Usually when a 21 year old hits a bollard, they do it in a clapped out Peugeot 106 not an STR10.
8 | Romain Grosjean | Lotus | G: 8th | R: 7th | 8/10
Grosjean admitted being surprised at making Q3 and then ended up in eighth place, once again demonstrating his fine pace. A good start left him firmly in the points and thereafter it was an uneventful affair as he collected a strong haul for Lotus.
13 | Pastor Maldonado | Lotus | G: 11th | R: 8th | 7/10
Maldonado was unable to live with Grosjean in qualifying and was eliminated in Q2, the 13th time the Frenchman has succeeded over one lap in 2015. However, his race pace was much stronger and he battled with Grosjean for much of the 53 laps, returning to the points with eighth.
28 | Will Stevens | Manor Marussia | G: 18th | R: 19th | 4/10
Stevens was running ahead of Rossi but he suffered a high-speed slide at 130r and dropped back, while a five second time penalty for speeding in the pit lane scuppered his result even further.
53 | Alexander Rossi | Manor Marussia | G: 19th | R: 18th | 6/10
Rossi was unable to set a time in qualifying due to the yellow flags but was permitted to start the race, which was a relief. Rossi was fractionally behind Stevens in the race and when the other Manor spun in front of him he did a good job to avoid a huge bill for the team!
9 | Marcus Ericsson | Sauber | G: 15th | R: 14th | 4/10
Ericsson spun off in Q1 but was fortunate to continue, albeit his lap wrecked and his prospects duly diminished. He spun early at Spoon and then spent much of the race defending before going wide. Pace was encouraging but errors were costly.
12 | Felipe Nasr | Sauber | G: 16th | R: 20th | 5/10
Nasr was eliminated in Q1 and blamed the yellow flags for his failure to progress. His race pace was okay, and he was smoother than Ericsson, but ultimate speed within the Sauber was never good enough to merit points.