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Japanese GP: Bottas wins as Mercedes clinches constructors' championship

  • Published on 13 Oct 2019 08:39
  • comments 10
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Valtteri Bottas has taken his third race win of the 2019 season, as he dominated proceedings at Suzuka. 

The Finn took his first victory since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier this year, crossing the line over 11 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Despite getting both of its cars on the front row after qualifying, Ferrari's day quickly unravelled after Charles Leclerc made contact with Max Verstappen at Turn 1, sending the latter into a spin.

Red Bull opted to retire Verstappen from the race on lap 15 of the race due to the damage he sustained, while Leclerc carved his way through the field to eventually finish in sixth place.

Vettel, who claimed pole position earlier on Sunday, lost his lead off the line as he moved forward before the lights went out, which hurt his momentum on the second time of asking, allowing Bottas to storm into the lead of the race.

Bottas then controlled the race as the optimum strategy worked out to be a two-stop, with Vettel the first of the leaders to make a stop, barring Leclerc, who pitted after making contact with Verstappen.

Bottas pitted one lap later than Vettel while Lewis Hamilton stayed out - however the degradation was higher than expected, meaning the Briton dropped well behind Bottas and Vettel after making his first stop.

Vettel made his second stop on lap 32, while Bottas stayed out for a handful of laps longer. However, the Finn had pulled out a sizeable advantage and emerged comfortably in front of Vettel.

Hamilton made his final pit stop of the race in the final 10 laps and closed up onto the rear of Vettel on fresh soft tyres, but he couldn't find a way past the Ferrari driver.

Alexander Albon secured his career-best finish by crossing the line in fourth place, but made contact with Lando Norris early on, which forced the McLaren driver into the pits.

Albon was not penalised for the incident and came home in front of the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz, who scored his third fifth-place finish for the season.

After making a third pit stop in the last handful of laps for soft tyres, Leclerc ended the grand prix in sixth place, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who resurged after being left frustrated after qualifying.

The Australian went deep into the race on the medium compound before attacking the pack late on with fresh tyres.

On the final lap, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez came together at Turn 1, which sent the Mexican driver into the barriers and out of the race amid a battle for eighth place.

Despite crashing out, Perez was still classified in ninth place, as a premature showing of the chequered flag display meant that he kept his position. 

Nico Hulkenberg was tenth, picking up the final point position ahead of the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll.

Photos Japan 2019

JP Circuit Suzuka - 13 October 2019

Replies (10)

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  • Well done to Valteri, he was faster than Lewis all weekend.
    Ferrari once again self destructing, showing that having the fastest car is not enough to be dominant. Leclerc was clumsy with Max and will probably get a penalty. Seb was really lucky not to get a penalty for jump starting the exact same way Kimi did in Sochi.

    McLaren were doing great until Albon crashed into Lando Norris. Once again, lucky that it didn't even get investigated for a potential penalty.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 09:12
    • JCF1

      Posts: 27

      I think Kimi's jump start was more clear. He moved forward much more than Vettel did.

      • + 0
      • Oct 13 2019 - 09:43
  • abhidbgt

    Posts: 267

    This race sums up the constructor championship. What could have been for Ferrari and what has been for Ferrari. Mercedes rarely have made on track mistakes (maybe strategy wise they have) but their drivers have been clean while for Ferrari there have been on track mistakes, strategy mistakes and reliability woes.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 09:55
  • abhidbgt

    Posts: 267

    Just heard Valtteri's radio. It was absolutely legendary. James, it's Valtteri.
    :D

    • + 1
    • Oct 13 2019 - 11:14
  • Really enjoyed the race, very pleased for Bottas and especially pleased to see and hear him swearing in his post race interview when he told all his doubters to 'F@£k Them' - shows he got the spirit and let's see what he can do in the remaining races. Tough on VER, I don't think there was enough room for LEC in that corner but you always take the risk on the outside of someone understeering into you. Hamilton's pursuit of Vettel was good viewing and despite 10 or so laps fresher tyres, the Ferrari has a power advantage that they have had for a few races now.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 11:18
  • Kean

    Posts: 680

    Top gainers today, Ricciardo and Perez, impressed. Hulkenberg did really well also. Perez did get lucky though to secure 9th with that spin (caused by Gas). Great start and great race by Bottas. Did not like to see Norris being taken out like that by Albon. Sainz as ever best of the rest. Not impressed by Alfa of late, this time Giovinazzi was the worst of them, also Grosjean failed to impress. And Kubica, hopelessly behind, likely his car was not quite on par with Russell's, given his crash in quali, but still Kubica is just way to slow. Great job by the mechanics though, to build a car in less than 4h.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 15:01
  • It was a good race what I enjoyed. Painful start for Ferrari, to put it mildly. One sloppy start and one sloppy race incident later, and their drivers have given Merc' two titles in one race. Bottas did well the entire weekend, so happy for him, but we wouldn't have doubted you had you done this more often, Bottas dear.

    Albon vs Gasly is getting interesting, because Gasly is doing great in a car where Albon could just match Kvyat, but Albon seem marginally better than Gasly in the same car. Mind, I was impressed by Yamamoto's pace in his one instance in the TRH, and I really hope he'll get a chance one day.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 15:16
    • f1ski

      Posts: 672

      If ferrari had not been winning of late I doubt these upgrades would have come. Lets see if Bottas continues to be strong. Perhaps the car pre update didn't really suit Bottas and Lewis was unaffected by the shortcomings. Lewis's comments we have been free to race ..... did anyone else see his nose grow? How many times has Valterri been asked to perform his role as #2

      • + 0
      • Oct 13 2019 - 15:27
    • Kean

      Posts: 680

      I am also quite conflicted by the Gasly / Albon situation. Even though Verstappen has run in to trouble the last few races, causing Albon to finish ahead of Verstappen, I still feel Albon has performed better in the RB than Gasly did. However, Gasly is 4-1 in quali stat against Kvyat, and 3-2 in race stat. Albon ”only” managed 6-6 in quali stat, and was beaten on race stat against Kvyat 5-7. Makes you wonder what really went on with Gasly at Red Bull. Was it the pressure? Was the car completely unfitting Gasly’s driving style? Anyway, I can now see why only Albon and Gasly are being considered. (Though I say put Hulkenberg in the RBR). I was also impressed by Yamamoto, but I would have been more impressed if it had been on another track.

      • + 0
      • Oct 13 2019 - 17:26
  • f1ski

    Posts: 672

    I cannot be impressed with the 6 championships as the rules artificially limited teams from developing their engines. The last 2 have been impressive the chassis devo the strategy calls but the first 3. No way MB helped with the rules development and curiously only they got the interpretation right. No other team used the turbo to generated additional HP on the fly and until the tokens were lifted no one else came close. MB was just hanging out in front teasing the field.

    • + 0
    • Oct 13 2019 - 15:24

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