Hamilton remains on course for third world title

The Silver Arrows were back on form in Japan. Lewis Hamilton (left) and Nico Rosberg finished the Japanese Grand Prix in first and second positions
The Silver Arrows were back on form in Japan. Lewis Hamilton (left) and Nico Rosberg finished the Japanese Grand Prix in first and second positions

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka has placed him firmly in pole position to retain his F1 Drivers’ world title.

The British racer gained an advantage over his Mercedes AMG Petronas team-mate, Nico Rosberg, with a determined move at the first corner of the race to take the lead.

Once at the head of the field, Hamilton’s strength was clear to see as he drove calmly to an impressive victory to equal the number of wins scored in Grand Prix racing by his idol, Ayrton Senna.

Speaking to his team after the race, Hamilton said: “That was a fantastic job. It was absolutely flawless. A special day for me and a special day for us.”

His victory has opened a large championship lead over Rosberg, who finished the race second, with the Brackley-based Silver Arrows making a return to form following a difficult race in Singapore.

Rosberg said afterwards: “Lewis made a strong move at the start and got ahead. It was a close call and I thought we were going to touch.

“Yes, he has a big points advantage at the moment, but everything is still possible and the title race is still on. If I can win in Russia, then the championship will be possible. I can’t wait for the next race.”

Sebastian Vettel maintained the Ferrari form by finishing third for the Scuderia.

Nico Hulkenberg was sixth for Silverstone-based Sahara Force India. He commented: “After crashing out in Singapore, and suffering a grid penalty, I was pleased with sixth. It was a good performance.”

His Force India team-mate, Sergio Perez finished outside of the points in 12th.

The Toro Rosso duo, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, were classified ninth and tenth respectively.

Verstappen said: “I am pleased with this performance and now I can again look ahead to the next race with growing confidence.”

Sainz was fastest during a rain-soaked Free Practice 1, saying: “It was good to see my name at the top of times. Sadly I couldn’t remain in that for the rest of the week, but it was good for my team to see it!”

Standings: 1) Hamilton, 277pts; 2) Rosberg, 229; 3) Vettel, 218. Next round: October 11 - Sochi Autodrom, Russia.