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Mercedes wraps up constructors’ title as Bottas wins Japanese GP

13th Oct 2019 4:33 pm

With only Hamilton and Bottas now in the battle for the drivers’ title, Mercedes is guaranteed a record-breaking, sixth consecutive double championship win.

Mercedes was able to secure its sixth consecutive F1 constructors’ title – equalling Ferrari’s record from 1999 to 2004 – as Valtteri Bottas won the 2019 Japanese GP in a dominant fashion, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

Starting from 3rd on the grid, Bottas enjoyed a blistering getaway and was able to capitalise on Vettel’s poor start to slot into the lead heading into Turn 1. Vettel jerked ahead before the lights went out and then stopped when he realised his error – thereby compromising his getaway. The incident was under investigation, but Vettel was able to escape a penalty as the stewards declared that the “movement (from Vettel’s car) was within the acceptable tolerance of the F1 jump start system.”

A little further down the order, Charles Leclerc ended up making contact with Max Verstappen as the latter attempted a move around the outside heading into Turn 2. The incident forced Verstappen to head into the pits immediately, while also leaving Leclerc with significant front-wing damage. Leclerc did continue driving with the damage for two more laps, with the debris from his car being hurled towards Hamilton and even breaking the Mercedes’ right wing mirror. Unfortunately for Verstappen, the damage on his car proved to be too severe and he ended up retiring from the race on lap 15.

Out at front, Bottas started pulling away from Vettel, thereby forcing Ferrari to opt for a two-stop strategy. Vettel pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 16, while Bottas pitted a lap later and Hamilton pitted on lap 20, both Mercedes drivers taking on medium tyres. This only increased Bottas’ advantage and by the time all three drivers took their second pit stops, he was just under 10sec ahead of Vettel, with Hamilton a further 5sec adrift. But Hamilton was able to make use of his fresh soft tyres to quickly close the gap to Vettel ahead, setting the stage for a thrilling battle for 2nd place in the final few laps.

Hamilton did get close on several occasions, but the Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed helped Vettel hold on to 2nd place. Meanwhile, out at front, Bottas crossed the line to take his first win since the 2019 Azerbaijan GP in April. Crucially, Hamilton also set the fastest lap of the race; heading into the race, Mercedes needed to outscore Ferrari by 14 points to wrap up the constructors’ title at Suzuka, and the additional point scored by Hamilton for setting the fastest lap handed the team enough points to do just that. Moreover, after the Japanese GP, Bottas is the only other driver who can mathematically challenge Hamilton for the 2019 drivers’ title. This means Mercedes is guaranteed to clinch a record-breaking, sixth consecutive double championship win this year.

Alexander Albon completed the race in 4th place, ahead of Carlos Sainz. Leclerc was able to pull off a strong recovery drive after his opening lap incident to finish 6th overall. However, he was handed two separate penalties after the race – a 5sec penalty for his clash with Verstappen and a 10sec penalty for continuing to drive the car in an unsafe condition. This dropped him to 7th overall, and promoted Daniel Ricciardo to 6th place.

Oddly, the chequered flag was waved a lap earlier than intended, leaving the final result as that at the end of lap 52 – something that ended up benefitting Sergio Perez. The Racing Point driver ended up in the barrier on lap 53, after tussling with Gasly. But, due to the incident, he was classified with a 9th-place finish. This pushed Nico Hulkenberg down to 10th place.

Result

POS

DRIVER

CAR

LAPS

GAP

1

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes

52

1h21m46.755s

2

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

52

13.343s

3

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

52

13.858s

4

Alexander Albon

Red Bull/Honda

52

59.537s

5

Carlos Sainz Jr.

McLaren/Renault

52

1m09.101s

6

Daniel Ricciardo

Renault

51

1 Lap

7

Charles Leclerc

Ferrari

51

1 Lap

8

Pierre Gasly

Toro Rosso/Honda

51

1 Lap

9

Sergio Perez

Racing Point/Mercedes

51

1 Lap

10

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault

51

1 Lap

11

Lance Stroll

Racing Point/Mercedes

51

1 Lap

12

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso/Honda

51

1 Lap

13

Lando Norris

McLaren/Renault

51

1 Lap

14

Kimi Raikkonen

Alfa Romeo/Ferrari

51

1 Lap

15

Romain Grosjean

Haas/Ferrari

51

1 Lap

16

Antonio Giovinazzi

Alfa Romeo/Ferrari

51

1 Lap

17

Kevin Magnussen

Haas/Ferrari

51

1 Lap

18

George Russell

Williams/Mercedes

50

Not running

19

Robert Kubica

Williams/Mercedes

50

2 Laps

-

Max Verstappen

Red Bull/Honda

14

Accident damage

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