Lewis Hamilton took victory at the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix to take his career wins to 41, matching that of Ayrton Senna, fourth in the list of all-time winners. Nico Rosberg claimed second to secure an eighth Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season with his 37th career F1 podium finish. The drivers went into Turn One side-by-side and Lewis emerged from Turn Two in the lead while Nico dropped to P4 after he had to run wide on corner exit. Nico recovered strongly, stopping on laps 15 and 29, overtaking Bottas and running well on the prime tyre to undercut Vettel and regain two positions. Both drivers ran a two-stop strategy with Lewis running option/option/prime (stops on L16, L31) and Nico option/prime/prime (stops on L15, L29). MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (506) now leads Ferrari (337) by 169 points in the Constructors’ Championship. Lewis (277) now leads the Drivers’ Championship by 48 points from Nico (229).
Lewis Hamilton: I’m buzzing like you could not believe. As I’m walking through after the race I’ve got this rush but I’m thinking about all the different experiences I’ve been through and the people that have helped me along the way: my family, without whom I wouldn’t be here today, and everyone else that’s helped me – they know who they are. As I arrived today, I knew Nico had done a great job in qualifying and I needed to get a good start. It was very tight through Turn One but from then on it was just the most beautiful day. I have struggled every year at this circuit, but I always loved it. When you have the balance and the car is doing what you want it to do, and you’re attacking through the corners, there’s no better feeling. The engineers and everyone in the garage did a great job. We didn’t have much data to go through after practice, but the car felt unbelievable. I am really grateful to the team because without them I wouldn’t be here. I also want to thank my fans who have supported me all this way, and still we rise.
Nico Rosberg: A tough day for me. It was very close throughout the corner and on the exit I had to go off the track to avoid a collision, which cost me speed and pushed me back to fourth place. After that, I was fighting for P2 today rather than the win. But I was able to push then and overtake Valtteri, which was great. The team did also a great job with the undercut of Sebastian, this worked out perfectly with a really hard out-lap on the new tyres. So second place is damage limitation for me, as I had to win here in Japan to close the gap to Lewis. But I will keep pushing and try to win in Sochi now. I had lots of positives this weekend. So I will be back strongly.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: That was a great race for us and a great feeling to be back on the top steps of the podium – it feels a little bit like our first race win to me. It wasn’t plain sailing at all for us today. First, there was the start – Lewis got away a little better than Nico, so they ran wheel to wheel through the first corners. That was pretty stressful to watch as they drifted out towards the edge of the track, with Nico forced to run up on the kerb, and Lewis complained about some understeer in Turn Two straight after that. That left Lewis to run the race we had planned, and he pulled good gaps on each stint to make the strategy work. With Nico, it was more tricky but we pulled two different strategic moves to move him up the order; first, we played the long game with Bottas, letting him stop early and then passing him on track with fresher tyres; then we were able to undercut Vettel on the second stop and claim second position. As for Lewis, he had some challenges out there, too, especially when he got a big tyre vibration in the second stint after locking up, and we had to pull him in for his final set of tyres. But we were able to manage the different issues today and get both cars home. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can just write off Singapore and say that we are back to normal; we must stay on our toes, keep working and keep learning. But this was a good day for us, with great drives, quick pit-stops and a fantastic job from the whole team to bounce back conclusively from last weekend.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): It was great weather for the race today with the sun shining all day. Two great starts, Lewis getting away from the line slightly better and going into Turn One side-by-side, but it was good to see them both emerge from the other side in one piece. Nico unfortunately lost two positions in the battle, so we faced a difficult job to get him back to the front. During the race, there were a few issues to manage with engine temperatures and a flat spot on Lewis’ second set of tyres, which was through to the canvas. As always, even when you’re in a position with apparent control of the race, there are always risks and worries but it was great to get both cars home, which we haven’t done since Belgium. Congratulations to Lewis and Nico for some great driving today and particularly Lewis for reaching a very significant marker in his Formula One career to match Ayrton Senna’s total of 41 wins.
Source: Mercedes-AMG F1