A challenging race saw Nico Rosberg finish the Japanese Grand Prix in eighth position while Lewis Hamilton retired after seven laps.
Lewis suffered a right-rear tyre puncture following contact with Sebastian Vettel on the run to turn one. The damage caused by the lap returning to the pits meant the team retired the car after seven laps. Nico made his first pit stop on lap 12 and was subsequently given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release. He served this on lap 16, suffering a time loss of around 20 seconds in the process. Nico made two further stops on laps 24 and 39, running option/prime/option/prime, on his way to eighth place.
I made a good start today and was in a strong position until my first pit stop. Unfortunately we then had the incident as I left the pit box which ultimately cost me a top position. We will analyse internally with the team what went wrong but it was immediately clear that we would get a penalty. After that, we switched to a three-stop strategy and that worked out as well as it could for us. I was able to do some good overtaking manoeuvres, although I wasn’t happy with Perez as the rules are clear; you can defend once and close the door but you can’t switch sides again. Trying to overtake the Sauber at the end was very tough and while it’s difficult to be satisfied with eighth place given our potential, at least we were able to salvage some points.
I got a fantastic start this afternoon, better than both Red Bulls for probably the first time this year. Mark moved right, so I had to move as well, which sandwiched Sebastian between me and Romain. Seb’s front wing clipped my right rear, cut the tyre and that was that. It wasn’t his fault at all, just one of those things that wasn’t meant to be this afternoon. I feel most gutted for the team – the guys here at the track and in the factory – because they are doing an amazing job right now and we’re just not getting the reward for it. Looking to the last four races, I will just be going out there to enjoy them and score as many points as I can for the team. I still believe that second in the Constructors’ Championship is in our reach if our luck takes a turn for the better and that’s what we will all be aiming for.
A tough afternoon for us which was made more frustrating by the fact that we had a good car today and unfortunately did not get the opportunity to demonstrate that. Our lap times were pretty competitive and the tyre durability was good but for various reasons, we weren’t able to race well. We suffered a puncture with Lewis off the line and, whilst he managed to recover to the pits, the damage subsequently proved too great to continue. With Nico, we had the issue with the pit stop which led to the drive through penalty. We’re normally a pretty reliable team in the pits and I don’t fully understand what happened yet but we will investigate and take any necessary actions. The team has worked extremely hard over the past two weeks and I still believe we have the potential to finish the season in second place in the Constructors’ Championship but we have to use the potential of the car to the full in the four remaining races to achieve that aim.
That was a character-building afternoon for our team. Lewis suffered an unfortunate racing incident on the run down to turn one and had to complete an entire lap with a punctured right-rear tyre. That seriously damaged the underfloor of the car and it became clear soon after he went back out that the rear brake temperatures were climbing and the car pulling to the right. So the only sensible precaution was to retire the car after seven laps. As for Nico, he drove a strong race but his finishing position was dictated by the drive-through penalty that he received for an unsafe release at his first pit stop. After that, he recovered well to finish in eighth position and salvage four points.
Source: Mercedes AMG Petronas