Rosberg Takes First Win in Japan; Extends Championship Lead

Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura of AFP/Getty Images

Photo by Toshifumi Kitamura of AFP/Getty Images

Keeping up with his success as he won his third consecutive pole at this track on Saturday, Nico Rosberg topped it off by winning his first Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka to put him 33 points clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton. In a battle for second place, Max Verstappen just held off Hamilton to finish in second.

“What an awesome weekend!” Rosberg exclaimed after the race. “It felt great right from when the lights went green on Friday. I got a good rhythm in practice, had a strong Qualifying, a decent start and then from the lead I was able to control the pace in the race. I had to save my engine a bit as it was my last race in the cycle — but the gap was always safe. I came here to win in Japan and I managed to do so, which is really special. It’s a fantastic feeling to win at this legendary race track.”

Hamilton was certain to get back in the championship following his engine failure at the previous round in Malaysia, but once again, his chances were spoiled when he encountered wheel spin at the start of the race, dropping down to seventh position by the end of the first lap. Meanwhile, Rosberg shot out in front and held second place Verstappen from three to nearly a six second gap. Sebastian Vettel briefly held the lead on lap 31, but four laps later, had to pit as Rosberg took over the lead gain and held it for the rest of the race.

Hamilton came on strong at the end, and closed in on Vertsappen with a handful of laps remaining in the race. The world champion had a chance to overtake Verstappen one lap from the end, but coming down to the final chicane, Hamilton overshot the curve as Verstappen blocked him. Hamilton and his Mercedes team afterwards protested that Verstappen overly defended his position and launched a protest, for it to only be withdrawn a couple of hours later.

For a race that had all 22 drivers finish, Ferrari drivers Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen took fourth and fifth, respectively while Daniel Ricciardo finished in sixth. Force India’s Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg followed in seventh and eighth, with the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas took the last two final point positions, respectively.

With a good lead in the standings, Rosberg still realizes that there are four rounds to go, and needs to maintain his focus in order to claim his first championship.

“The season is not over yet with a few races still to go around the world, so I need to keep my energy up!” Rosberg added. “Thank you so much to everyone out in the crowds this weekend too. The fans here always create a special atmosphere and they’ve put on such a great show. Arigato! Now we need to focus on the last four races. I look forward to going to America next. See you there!”

Share Button