He lost the pole to teammate Nico Rosberg but that didn’t prevent the reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton to take the title in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday September 27, 2015. The victory has given the British driver a virtual control on the championship leaderboard and it would be well-nigh impossible to deny the Briton his second successive World Championship in the 2015 season. The Mercedes team was ineffective at last week’s Singapore GP but they made up for that debacle with a dominating finish in Japan. Pole-man Nico Rosberg fought hard but he fell back after being forced wide by Hamilton in a battle between the two team-mates in the first two corners. The initial loss of momentum pushed Rosberg behind Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, even as Hamilton broke decisively away from the rest of the drivers. Driving alone at the top, Hamilton registered a string of fastest laps and his command on the race was such that he couldn’t lose. It was the British driver’s 41st victory of his career and it brought him at level with his childhood hero Ayrton Senna’s achievement. While Ferrari driver took the third place, his teammate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth. It was a race that also brought back memories of the 2014 season, when Marussia driver Jules Bianchi had suffered a fatal accident that cost him his life.
Mercedes team of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg put behind their Singapore GP woes and even in qualifying rounds, the two of them dominated the proceedings. Rosberg celebrated his mother’s birthday by taking the pole ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat had a huge crash before the qualifying could get to its routine finish and everything had to be terminated. At that point, Hamilton was chasing Rosberg but with Kvyat’s accident, he missed his chance of claiming his 12th pole in 14 races this season. Rosberg, however, got lucky to take the first pole since May 2015. Finland’s Valtteri Bottas of Williams was third just ahead of Ferrari ‘s Sebastian Vettel on the second row. Bottas’ teammate Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. The seventh place in qualifying was taken by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, eighth by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean and ninth and tenth spots went to Sergio Perez of Force India and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat respectively.
On race day, the most crucial battle took place in the first lap itself. Hamilton made a better start than his team-mate by diving inside the line at Turn One and holding on as the two Mercedes drivers braked at Turn Two. The one mistake that Rosberg made was to hang on the outside that allowed Hamilton to pull away on the exit. As Rosberg went wide, he lost the momentum and Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas passed him in quick succession. Rosberg tried to pass Bottas but he was told by Team Mercedes that his engine temperatures were getting dangerously high. Therefore, Rosberg waited for the pit stops and while Bottas stopped early on lap 11, Rosberg continued for another four laps before pitting but when he came out, he was still behind Bottas. In a little while, Rosberg, decisively dived down the inside into the chicane, leaving Bottas no option but to give way. The Rosberg chased Vettel. Rosberg changed into extra grip tyres to gain speed, while Vettel continued with the mediums after pitting on lap 29. This helped Rosberg to go ahead of Vettel, who had to stop for fitting hard tyres but as Vettel came out, Rosberg pulled away ahead of him. However, Vettel had to rest content with the third-place finish and yield 11 championship points to Rosberg at the end. Vettel’s teammate Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Bottas with Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg taking the sixth place. Two lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were seventh and eighth while Torro Rooso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz junior finished ninth and tenth respectively.
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