Rosberg wins, Mercedes clinch championship

By on Sunday, October 9, 2016
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Nico Rosberg took a step closer to a maiden F1 crown with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka as Lewis Hamilton recovered from another poor start to finish 3rd and Mercedes sealed their third consecutive constructors' championship.

Rosberg crucially retained his lead at the start and was unchallenged thereafter, coming home five seconds ahead of second-placed Max Verstappen and extending his championship advantage to 33 points with just four races remaining.

Verstappen held off Hamilton in the closing laps for P2, though his defending was once again controversial as he seemed to dart to the inside under-braking at the final chicane, forcing Hamilton to abandon the move and run off the race track.

The Briton's victory hopes were dashed by another sluggish getaway which saw him fall to eighth, but a combination of strategy and overtaking promoted him to the final podium spot, even if his fightback pales into insignificance relative to Rosberg's commanding lead.

After missing out in Malaysia, however, the Silver Arrows wrapped up the constructors' title courtesy of the double podium finish, moving over 200 points clear of nearest challengers Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel bolted on the soft tyres for his final stint but was unable to pass Hamilton, forced to settle for fourth, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen took fifth after a pre-race gearbox penalty demoted him to eighth on the grid.

Sepang victor Daniel Ricciardo could only manage sixth after a pit-stop blunder effectively ended his battle with Raikkonen, but Force India secured another strong haul of points as Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Constructors' championship rivals Williams completed the top ten, with Felipe Massa leading home Valtteri Bottas.

Romain Grosjean started P7 but missed out on the points in 11th, ahead of Jolyon Palmer, Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson.

It was a miserable race for McLaren on Honda's home turf as Fernando Alonso wound up 16th and Jenson Button, who started last after an engine change, slumped to P18, with the team failing to score for the first time since the British Grand Prix in July.

Carlos Sainz split the McLaren pair, while Felipe Nasr took 19th, Esteban Gutierrez tumbled to 20th and Esteban Ocon once again out-performed Pascal Wehrlein at Manor as all 22 cars made the chequered flag.

F1 now heads to Austin for the United States Grand Prix in a fortnight's time.



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