FORMULA 1

LEWIS HAMILTON STEAMROLLS THROUGH THE JAPANESE GP

Hamilton regained his total dominance of Formula One with
his eighth victory of the season here on Sunday. After losing out on pole in the previous two race weekends, and being beaten to the top of the podium by Sebastian Vettel in Singapore last weekend, Hamilton re-established his authority with his 41st victory, to put him alongside his idol Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton said: “I used to watch Ayrton race and to come here and
match his wins is fantastic. We didn’t take our A game to Singapore and it
was important to come back here.”

Second placed Nico Rosberg said: “It’s going the wrong way. I had to win today.”

A year ago here Rosberg won pole and was beaten by Hamilton in wet conditions. On Sunday the sun shone all day but it was the same result, with Rosberg quickly losing his grid place advantage to the more aggressive British driver.

The win takes Hamilton 48 points ahead of Rosberg in the championship with five races to go, with Sebastian Vettel now 59 points behind. It was business as usual. The only moment of worry for him came when he reported “big vibrations” before coming in for his second stop. But by then his lead was up to 10 seconds.

From the moments the lights went out Hamilton was straight on Rosberg’s case, harrying him on the inside before squeezing him wide on Turn Two. Behind the Mercedes a number of drivers made contact as they got away, with both Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo suffering punctures, while Sergio Perez went into the gravel.

Rosberg dropped down to fourth after being passed by Hamilton, with Vettel second and Valtteri Bottas third. But no-one made a serious challenge to Hamilton position, and he was blithely told by his team to increase his advantage to 10 seconds, which he duly did. To make Rosberg feel even worse his team told him he had to look after his engine.

In the end Hamilton’s advantage was 18.9 seconds over Rosberg,
with Vettel third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. They were followed by Bottas
(Williams) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India).

There was more pain for McLaren, who will have Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso back next year, according to the team. Alonso was 11th while Button trailed in 16th. Alonso showed his frustration at one point, immediately after being overtaken by Marcus Ericcson in a Sauber. Later, when he was passed again, this time by the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, he shouted: “GP2 engine! GP2 engine.”