F1 2014 Japanese Grand Prix result: Hamilton storms to Suzuka victory
PUBLISHED: 09:08 05 October 2014 | UPDATED: 13:03 05 October 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix at a rain-hit Suzuka.
2014 Japanese Grand Prix
Provisional Suzuka result:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5 Jenson Button (McLaren)
6 Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
7 Felipe Massa (Williams)
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
9 Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
10 Sergio Perez (Force India)
The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas star from Hertfordshire won a double red-flagged race at Suzuka for his third successive victory, after also taking the chequered flag in Italy and Singapore.
His victory in Japan extended his lead in the FIA World Drivers’ Championship over Rosberg into double figures.
With an ambulance out on track following a serious crash involving Jules Bianchi’s Marussia, the race was red-flagged on lap 44 of 53, and did not restart, with full points awarded.
Hamilton was leading behind the safety car at the time the race was brought to a premature end, with Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg in second place. Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 10 points in the title race.
2014 World Constructors’ Championship
After Round 15:
1 Mercedes 522
2 Red Bull 332
3 Williams 201
4 Ferrari 178
5 Force India 122
6 McLaren 121
Sebastian Vettel was third in the provisional results for Red Bull, taking the final podium position.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for Red Bull, with McLaren star Jenson Button fifth.
Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Williams, with teammate Felipe Massa seventh and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg eighth. Jean Eric-Vergne and Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
There were sombre celebrations on the podium though, as an unconscious Jules Bianchi was transferred to hospital by ambulance.
2014 FIA World Drivers’ Championship
Classification after Round 15:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 266 points
2 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 256
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 193
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 139
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 133
6 Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 130
7 Jenson Button (McLaren) 82
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 76
9 Felipe Massaa (Williams) 71
10 Sergio Perez (Force India) 46
The Marussia driver’s accident at Turn Seven overshadowed Hamilton’s victory, with the Frenchman suffering a “severe head injury” and subsequently undergoing surgery at the Mie General Hospital.
Hamilton said afterwards: “Our first thoughts go to Jules – it overshadows everything else when one of our colleagues is injured and we are praying for him.
“Next to this, the race result doesn’t seem significant at all.”
Runner-up Rosberg echoed Hamilton’s comments. The German said: “My thoughts are with our colleague Jules and his family and teammates, and we are hoping for some positive news.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff added: “At this stage, the only important thing is that Jules Bianchi is okay and recovers; the sport is not as important as that now.”
With heavy rain falling two hours earlier, and puddles on the track, the race started in wet conditions behind the safety car.
The Japanese Grand Prix was then red-flagged on the second lap, with the drivers lining up in the pit-lane at the end of the lap.
Two laps completed behind the safety car meant a result could be declared, and half points awarded in grid order if no more racing was possible.
The race resumed behind the safety car at 3.25pm local time (7.25am UK time) and within seconds Fernando Alonso’s car broke down and the Ferrari driver stopped out on track at Turn 5 with an electrical problem.
When the safety car came in at the end of lap nine the race finally got underway proper, with pole-sitter Rosberg and Hamilton pulling five seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Jenson Button was the first of the drivers to switch to intermediate tyres and the McLaren man benefitted, being the fastest non-Mercedes racer out on track at that stage.
As a result, he moved up to third place when others pitted. However, Button later dropped down to fifth after a slow third stop on lap 31, which included a steering wheel change.
At the front, 2008 F1 world champion Hamilton closed in on his Silver Arrows rival and, with DRS finally enabled, he pressurised Rosberg for a couple of laps, hoping to force a mistake.
Hamilton took the lead on lap 29 of 53 when he swept around Rosberg on the outside at Turn One and the world championship leader soon motored four seconds clear of his Mercedes teammate.
With Rosberg struggling with the balance of his car, he was the first of the Mercedes drivers to pit again for another set of inters.
Despite staying out for a couple of extra laps, Hamilton retained the lead when he stopped for fresh rubber.
With 36 laps gone, rain started to fall again, but Hamilton put in a storming drive at the front to extend his lead over Rosberg to more than eight seconds.
Hamilton set a number of fastest laps, despite the rain getting heavier, and he pulled 14 seconds clear of the field as the grand prix reached 40 laps and 75 per cent race distance – meaning full points would be awarded.
The safety car was deployed again after Sauber driver Adrian Sutil lost control of his car on lap 42, aquaplaned off the track and hit the tyre barrier on the outside of Turn 7.
The marshals displayed double waved yellow flags before the corner to warn drivers of the incident. A recovery vehicle was sent to the scene to lift the car to safety.
While this was being done, Jules Bianchi lost control of his car, travelled across the run-off area and hit the back of the recovery tractor. Medical teams rushed to the scene and the race was then stopped.
At hospital the CT scan showed that Bianchi had suffered a serious head injury and he will be moved to intensive care after surgery.
Of his 30th career victory, Hamilton added: “Nico and I had a tough battle, we were pushing really hard. I had a big moment at Turn One when I was too late getting off the DRS as I was just pushing so hard but fortunately I was able to get back on track.
“The conditions were difficult throughout but I had more pace than Nico today and could follow him quite comfortably in the early stages.
“This is not an easy circuit for following another car or for overtaking, but he made a mistake out of the last corner and I was able to pass.
“The whole approach then needed to change to look after the tyres and make sure I stayed in the lead until the end of the race.
“But like I said, that’s not what matters today; our thoughts are with Jules.”
Rosberg said: “Today was a really tough race with the wet conditions. I struggled a lot with the balance of my car on the intermediate tyres, so I had to push hard to keep Lewis behind me.
“I had a lot of oversteering which is why the rear end of my car was very nervous. That was really strange and I didn’t have the necessary confidence in the corners; we need to look into that in the next few days.
“It meant that Lewis was quicker today and deserved the win. It was damage limitation with losing only seven points to him. For the team it was a good result with another 1-2.”
Afterwards Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe said: “We had predicted a difficult race from the moment we saw the forecast for this weekend but the weather didn’t prove as bad as we had perhaps expected.
“It was a tricky start behind the safety car but then much of the race unfolded in intermediate tyre conditions. We pulled out a lead at the beginning which meant we were able to shadow our competitors with the pit stops and let the drivers battle it out on track.
“They had a hard dice and Lewis managed an impressive overtake at Turn One.
“In conditions like we saw today, a one-two finish is a good achievement for the team.
“But most importantly of all, we are all hoping to hear some positive news about Jules soon.”
For McLaren, it was a disappointing race.
At the start, Button quickly capitalised on the mixed conditions and was the first driver to make the jump to intermediate tyres after the safety car peeled in.
That elevated him to third place, a position he was able to hold for most of the race, until he was delayed by the need to elongate a pit-stop in order to accommodate a steering wheel change.
As the conditions worsened, his decision to switch back to full wets looked equally assured – but he was unable to take advantage of that decision as the safety car was brought out again, and the race prematurely red-flagged. He finished fifth, but deserved better.
An electronics issue also delayed Kevin Magnussen during his first stint.
It required an additional pit-stop to change Kevin’s steering wheel – a delay that dropped him a long way down the order and effectively ended his hopes of fighting for points.
Despite some brave fighting moves, he was unable to recover to better than 14th place.
However, the McLaren team’s thoughts are with Jules Bianchi and the Marussia team after today’s serious accident.
Button said: “For me, the race doesn’t really matter today.
“I haven’t seen anything of Jules’ accident, but the most important thing to say is that all our thoughts are with him, his family, and his team right now.
“It’s an accident that you hope never happens in Formula 1.”
McLaren colleague Magnussen added: “Let’s really hope that Jules is okay. It’s such a bad feeling when something like this happens, so let’s hope and pray for him.
“We did the best we could today, but we had an unfortunate problem with the steering wheel, which basically dropped me out of the race.
“I tried my best to come back, and get some points, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to do so.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren’s racing director, said: “More important than anything else, on behalf of everyone at McLaren I want to say how shocked and sorry we were to hear the news of Jules’ accident. Our hearts go out to him, of course, to his family, and to all at Marussia.
“As far as today’s race was concerned, Jenson was the first driver in the field to stop to fit intermediates, and, having done so, thereafter he drove very well all afternoon.
“Indeed, he may well have finished third had things panned out better for us at the end of the race in terms of safety car and pit-stop timing.
“By contrast, Kevin had a disappointing afternoon. From early in the race his car began to develop electronics issues, which we attempted to ameliorate by replacing his steering wheel in an unscheduled pit-stop.
“After that he was always going to be playing catch-up – and, although he pulled off some good moves, especially his overtake of Daniel [Ricciardo], he was never going to be in with a chance of scoring points here today.”
The F1 circus heads to Sochi next week for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix.