The Japanese Grand Prix lived up to its action-packed reputation, with plenty of overtaking and a wide variety of tyre strategies at work.
Nico Rosberg won the race after making a perfect start from pole and resisting attempts by the Red Bull drivers to ‘undercut’ him by making their first pit stops early. The other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton stayed out slightly longer to gain track position, eventually finishing third after slipping down to eighth following a poor start.
Despite the recovery drive from Hamilton securing both drivers’ places on the podium and resulting in a third straight Constructors Title for Mercedes they protested 2nd place finisher Max Verstappen for his defence of the place from Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.
Hamilton throws his Mercedes around the outside of VES at the chicane
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 9, 2016
Hamilton looked to the inside as they approached the corner but Verstappen, as has become his trademark, shut the door firmly as they entered the braking zone. Lewis complained about it and the team have now protested it. Even Sky got in on the act as they suggested the Mercedes man wasn’t alongside but “would have been”. Crucially what seems to have been overlooked in all of this is that HE WASN’T.
UPDATE: Mercedes protest withdrawn after intervention from Lewis Hamilton
At the final pit stops Hamilton got past Vettel, who ran the soft tyres for his final stint. Lewis used the extra durability of the hard tyres to challenge Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for second in the closing stages, setting up an unpredictable finale.
Not everybody followed the two-stop strategy though: Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa stopped only once and both finished in the points. Both Renaults and Saubers also stopped only once.
All three tyre compounds were seen at the start of the race, with the top 10 all starting on softs, while the one-stoppers began on either the medium or the hard tyre. Force India was the only team to use all three compounds during the race.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “There was plenty of overtaking and tactics at work in Suzuka, with the three compounds we made available providing a wide variety of options when it came to how to run the strategy. The dry weather and absence of safety cars meant that we had two stops for most of the field, but there were some other options that worked well too, including a one-stopper at one of the most demanding circuits of the year in terms of tyre usage. Congratulations to Mercedes for another constructors’ title.”
Fastest times of the day by compound:
|First||HAM 1m35.152s||PER 1m36.756s||VET 1m35.118s|
|Second||RIC 1m35.511s||HUL 1m37.351s||ROS 1m37.112s|
|Third||RAI 1m35.990s||MAG 1m38.036s||BUT 1m37.177s|
Longest stint of the race:
|Hard||Massa, Kvyat||29 laps|
|Medium||Nasr, Magnussen||27 laps|
Truthometer: On Saturday a three-stop strategy looked to be theoretically fastest. Instead, Nico Rosberg used two stops to win the grand prix, starting on the used softs, stopping after 12 laps for hards and after 29 laps for hards again.