Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas won the Japanese Grand Prix Valtteri claimed his sixth victory in Formula One, his third of the 2019 season and first at the Japanese Grand Prix ,
with a two-stop soft-medium-soft strategy, on a track that was made quite unpredictable due to an enforced day off yesterday following Typhoon Hagibis. Not only did Saturday’s heavy rain wash away the rubber laid on Friday, but teams also lost a lot of running, with FP3 cancelled and qualifying taking place on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, the fastest race lap set by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton broke the lap record established by Kimi Raikkonen that had stood since 2005
Scuderia Ferrari leaves Suzuka and the Japanese Grand Prix having picked up a second place with Sebastian Vettel and a seventh with Charles Leclerc. That definitely did not live up to expectations given the front row lockout in qualifying held at 10 in the morning because of the Hagibis typhoon. Sebastian paid the price for a hesitant start, while Charles had to deal with the after-effects of a coming together with Max Verstappen at the first corner. The Dutchman spun, while the Monegasque had to pit after three laps to change his damaged front wing, which meant he had to fight back from last place.
For both Ferraris, the race got complicated right from the start. Sebastian hesitated when the lights went out and Valtteri Bottas got ahead of him and Charles got wheelspin so he was slow off the line and Verstappen came around the outside of him. Bottas led into turn 1 followed by Vettel, Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. It was here that the Ferrari and Red Bull tangled and that would complicate Leclerc’s race. He worked his way up from 20th to seventh before his second pit stop and was sixth before making a third visit to the pits on lap 46, when it was clear he would not lose any places.
Red Bull of Alex Albon came home P4, while a brilliant race from Carlos Sainz saw the McLaren driver finish fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo may have been despondent this morning after qualifying a lowly P16. But the canny Australian had converted that to seventh by the race end,, which became sixth after Leclerc’s penalty. He was thus classified ahead of Leclerc, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the Racing Point of Sergio Perez – who ended his race in the barriers but was still classified P9 – and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
After the race, the stewards reviewed the incident between Leclerc and Verstappen and imposed a 15 second time penalty on Charles Leclerc.
Six double championships – every single team member at the race track and in the factories can be incredibly proud of this achievement! A big thank you to all of you. I think we don’t quite realise yet what an amazing achievement this is, but we’re making history in this sport. We’ve had a really good season so far and managed to make the most of our opportunities, especially in the beginning of the season. It’s amazing to think that we’ve just done something that’s never been done before – what a great day for all of us! I had an excellent start today, one of the best ones in my career, and managed to take the lead in the very beginning. We expected our car to be quick in the race, but it’s really tricky to overtake on this track, so we knew that we’d have to try and take the lead at the start and I’m very glad it all worked out. I really enjoyed the race afterwards; the car felt really good and our upgrades worked well. Suzuka has always been my favourite track even though I’ve never been particularly strong here – but now I like this track even more. It’s been a while since my last victory, I missed that winning feeling and I’m very happy and proud to have won the race that secured us the Constructors’ Championship.
“We had a very good morning, but the afternoon was less good in terms of the result we were able to achieve as a team.
The start wasn’t good for either me or Charles and without that, we could have had both cars fighting at the front. It was difficult today and to be fair. Our rivals were simply quicker, Valtteri was just flying.
I had a poor start, I was a bit early with the clutch initially then clutched in again and lost a bit of momentum. Usually our starts are very good but not this time. After that we were missing out a little bit in terms of speed in the race compared to our rivals. We went through the tyres more than Valtteri and Lewis. Especially at the end of the stints they were dropping off a bit more, whereas our rivals kept the pace throughout.
Towards the end my only target was to stay ahead of Lewis. I knew that down the straights he struggled to overtake, so I just tried to have clean exits in the places where it mattered.”
I’m so happy for the team – what a great result! Six consecutive double titles is an amazing achievement that has taken a long time and a lot of hard work. It just shows the strength and depth through and through for the team and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of Mercedes history. It’s a well-deserved achievement – thank you to everyone in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all the hard work and dedication. Valtteri did a great job today and deserved the win, congratulations to him. I did everything I could today; I think we probably had the chance at a 1-2 today, so we’ll take a look at what we could have done better in the debrief. I think we can expect the next races to be very challenging; Ferrari still have a straight-line speed advantage which makes it very hard to qualify ahead of them, so we have to outrace them, but I think that makes it really exciting for the spectators. We will celebrate this monumental achievement today; but tomorrow we’ll start pushing again – we still have races to win.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport win the FIA Formula One Constructors’ Championship for the sixth time in a row