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Mercedes Bounce Back From Singapore Slump

Lewis Hamilton consolidated his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship after a dominating drive saw him take victory at the Japanese GP. His closest challenger and team mate Nico Rosberg came home in 2nd with Sebastian Vettel taking the final podium place. For Hamilton and Mercedes, it was back to business in Japan after the horror show of Singapore. A heavy crash in qualifying for Dani Kvyat prevented Hamilton from taking pole position from Romberg, but it didn’t take Hamilton long to take the lead. A brilliant start from Hamilton allowed him to get alongside Rosberg into turn 1 and muscle his way into the lead. From then on, it was like a Sunday afternoon drive for Hamilton as he edges closer to a 3rd World Championship. The result also saw Hamilton equal his hero Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 grand prix victories. The joy was evident on Hamilton’s face as he received his trophy in front of the thousands of Japanese fans.

Behind the Mercedes pair, the Ferrari pair also enjoyed another strong afternoon, even though they couldn’t match the Mercedes for pace. Kimi Raikkonen beat fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas to 4th place, whilst Nico Hulkenberg came from 13th on the grid to finish a brilliant 6th. A stand out result, and possibly the most needed one, was the Lotus double points score with Romain Grosjean finishing 7th ahead of Pastor Maldonado. It was a difficult weekend for the team, whose equipment was late in arriving and were locked out of their hospitality unit all weekend. Things were so bad that Bernie Ecclestone stepped in to feed the team. Hopefully the Renault buy-out of the team will happen very soon. The Toro Rosso pair rounded off the points places, with Max Verstappen 9th and Carlos Sainz 10th after starting 17th and colliding with the pit lane bollard. It was a torrid day for Red Bull, with Dani Kvyat starting from the pit lane after his huge crash in qualifying and finishing a lowly 13th. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished 15th after starting 7th, but a collision with Felipe Massa as they went through turn 1 meant he had to pit for repairs.


Rosberg Not Tough Enough

For the second season running, Lewis Hamilton has proven how good he truly is. For the second season running, Nico Rosberg has shown how good he can be but, unfortunately for Rosberg, he is nowhere near Hamilton’s level. The difference between Hamilton and Rosberg is that Hamilton is so much more consistent and willing to win at all costs. The aggression that he produced at turn 1 to get past Rosberg is the real difference between the two drivers. Had those roles been reversed, I don’t believe Rosberg would have shown the same ruthlessness as Hamilton. Both have the same machinery, but only one has that win-at-all-costs attitude. Rosberg’s conservatism has cost him many times this season, and it did so again at the Japanese GP. When Hamilton overtook Rosberg, Rosberg managed to slip to 4th place behind Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas, and ultimately cost him any chance of catching and passing Hamilton. He did well to get past Bottas and eventually undercut Vettel at the pit stops, but after that there was nothing he could do to get near Hamilton, let alone pass him. We’ve seen over the years Hamilton’s ability to get quick laps in when they are needed, but in Rosberg’s case he hasn’t been able to deliver in that respect. Rosberg’s body language has a defeated look to it, and he will want this season to end so he can go away over the winter and look at ways to improve himself and come back in 2016 a better driver.

Alonso in New McLaren Outburst

It’s fair to say, Fernando Alonso’s return to McLaren hasn’t gone the way the Spaniard would have liked. 11 points scored all season, seriously down on power and reliability issues the length of my arm, you can understand why the double World Champion isn’t a happy man. His latest outburst over the team radio at the Japanese GP, Honda’s home grand prix, has left many wondering if Alonso will be in F1 at all next year, never mind at McLaren.

Alonso finished a lap down in 11th place after describing his team’s performance during the race as very embarrassing. His damning verdict came early in the race whilst he was briefly running in the points, but was passed with ease by Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso and Marcus Ericcson’s Sauber. Both moves were in the DRS zone going into turn 1, with the Honda power unit showing how much power it was lacking. To make matters worse for Alonso and the team, Max Verstappen also overtook Alonso at the same point leading to Alonso calling his engine a GP2 engine. This latest outburst from Alonso did not go down well with Ron Dennis, the McLaren CEO, who came out and said he was unhappy with Alonso’s remarks. Alonso is adamant that he will see out his contract with the team, which has another two years to go. However, I can see another early divorce for Alonso and McLaren if the team don’t improve next year. If the team struggles in the final 5 races the way they have all season, it may happen even sooner.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

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