Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton roared to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix with a two stop tyre strategy and widened his lead in the Formula One title race.
Hamilton, who adopted a medium-medium-hard tyre strategy from second on the grid, pulled off an aggressive passing move on teammate Nico Rosberg at the first corner.
He capitalised on his strong start and led the rest of the race, crossing the finish line a comfortable 18.9 seconds ahead. The English racer has now matched the benchmark of Ayrton Senna, with 41 wins, while Mercedes registered its eighth one-two finish of the season.
Nico Rosbergused the ‘undercut’ tyre strategy to pit earlier than his direct rivals and move up to second place, having dropped to fourth after the start. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari. Interestingly, only these three drivers can now theoretically win the championship this year.
Track temperatures, which peaked at 42 degrees, were the warmest they had been all weekend in Suzuka, adding a further complication to the strategy. The teams headed into the Japanese Grand Prix lacking dry weather data, as the two free practice sessions on Friday were dominated by rain.
Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli tyres, commented: “There was a strong and consistent performance from both our nominated tyres from start to finish of the Japanese Grand Prix, despite the highest track temperatures we have seen all weekend, as well as the high energy loads and abrasive surface that Suzuka is famous for.
“We saw a wide variety of strategies in place throughout the race and different thinking on the best way to use the tyres, with the timing of the pit stops turning out to be crucial.
“With the rain on Friday, the teams did not have their usual amount of data heading into the weekend, which made the way that they were able to read the race and get the best out of the tyres all the more impressive.”
Denna Bowman, Head Office