Hamilton wins halted Japanese Grand Prix

2014 Japanese Grand Prix summary

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Lewis Hamilton took his third-consecutive grand prix victory in a very wet and shortened Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka to extend his championship lead.

The race was abandoned with six laps remaining following a serious accident involving Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil at the Dunlop Curve. Sutil escaped unhurt in the accident, but Bianchi received emergency medical attention at the scene.

With rain falling heavily before the start, the decision was taken to begin the race under Safety Car conditions. On the second lap the red flag was shown and the cars brought into the pit lane for around 25 minutes to wait for conditions to clear.

The race resumed under Safety Car conditions once again, but within two laps Fernando Alonso became the first retirement of the race when his Ferrari suddenly lost power in the Esses with an apparent electrical failure.

With some drivers calling for the race to begin on team radio, the Safety Car finally pulled into the pits on lap ten with Nico Rosberg leading from Hamilton and Bottas. Jenson Button immediately pitted for intermediates in a clear bid to emulate some of his memorable wet weather performances of previous seasons.

After just a few laps of green flag racing, there was a rush of activity in the pit lane as the field began to switch to intermediate tyres. After every car had cycled through, Rosberg retained the lead, with Hamilton close behind and Button having jumped to third after his early gamble.

The two championship rivals were clear out in front and Hamilton began to put his team mate under immense pressure for the lead of the race. With DRS enabled on lap 25, Hamilton had a great opportunity to attempt a pass and managed to pull alongside Rosberg along the start/finish straight on lap 29, sweeping through into the lead around the outside of turn one.

With many cars sticking to intermediates, the rain slower began to fall harder and around lap 40, many drivers opted to switch for full wet tyres to try and tackle the increasingly difficult conditions.

Having battled with the Williams earlier in the race, the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo eventually caught Button’s McLaren in third, dispatching him with a pair of decisive moves.

With the surface water levels increasing, Sutil lost control of his Sauber at the Dunlop Curve and crashed into the outside tyre barriers. The crash scene was covered only by local yellows and – unseen by cameras – Bianchi’s Marussia appeared to aquaplane off the circuit at the same point the following lap.

The Safety Car was deployed with the Medical Car also immediately dispatched. Many drivers took the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres, with a mix of drivers opting for both Intermediates and full Wets.

After two laps under the Safety Car, the race was red flagged for the second time. With all cars brought back into the pits once again, the FIA soon announced that the race would not be restarted, officially declaring the results from the end of lap 44, the first lap under Safety Car. Full race points were awarded.

Hamilton was therefore declared the winner, from Rosberg in second and Vettel in third. Ricciardo was classified fourth, followed by Button and the Williams pair.

Despite stopping on the start/finish straight under Safety Car conditions, Nico Hulkenberg was awarded eighth, with Jean-Eric Vergne in ninth and Sergio Perez rounding out the points finishers in tenth.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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59 comments on “Hamilton wins halted Japanese Grand Prix”

  1. Quite the race. Mid through it, I actually was thinking it would pan out fine and be a great race. But the end reinforced my feeling that the FIA has been letting safety concerns slip a bit lately (recovering Sutils car with marshals on track in Germany, and now by not calling a SC earlier after Sutil incident. And maybe even by not having the race staged earlier in the day)

    1. The Germany decision was just plain irresponsible.

      They got away with it and have just slacked on safety ever since.

      1. Craig in Adelaide
        5th October 2014, 21:24

        Agree. The race should have gone under safety car immediately following Suts off in lap 44, 2 laps under safety, a flurry of tyre changes and different tyre selections, and we would have seen a cracking and unpredictable end to a race. Most importantly, Jules Bianchi would still be in good health and still in F1 racing, as we must assume his career is over as a result of race control making increasingly poor decisions. Thank God he is still alive.

        1. While I totally agree that the SC should have been deployed in Germany, I certainly saw nothing that I thought would have triggered a safety car in that accident yesterday. The likelihood that someone would have an identical accident within the less than two minutes it took to remove that car from a position right by an gap is extremely small, and one that is reasonably mitigated by waving double yellow flags – my understanding is that drivers are supposed to slow and be prepared to stop, or similar wording. Why would the safety car be any more likely to prevent an accident there?

          As for thinking that the safety car would give you a cracking end to the race? I have the opposite view. It would make a mockery of all the hard work drivers had done managing tires, building gaps, gaining places. As it is I’m a bit dissapointed we didn’t get to see Button on wets vs Ricciardo on inters.

          Bianchi’s crash is a horrible tragedy, but I’m yet to see anything to suggest anyone was negligent.

  2. Button could’ve got a podium, such a shame.

    1. @f1indofans I doubt that. The Red Bulls were cathing him very quick. He only got in third thanks to the massive advantage of the tyres he had for a moment.

      1. Well if Bianchi crash did not happened he had wet tyres pace (as the conditions getting.worse)

    2. If the race hadn’t been red flagged and instead been resumed after the safety car period, Button would have won this. He was the leading man on full wets as the rain was getting heavier.

      Of course, redflagging was the right decision under the circumstances.

      1. Hamilton could have certainly pitted and Rosberg maybe too before Button had cought up with them.

        1. All top 4 drivers pitted for Intetrs and Jenson pitted for Wets, so yeah I agree that Jenson could’ve won

      2. No he wouldn’t have. The safety car would have likely gone around for 4 – 6 laps in order to let people un lap themselves, by that time it would be the final lap and you can’t overtake in the final lap of a safety car even if it comes in.

        1. I agree he wouldn’t have. In previous years during red flag situations cars have been able to change there tyres eg monaco 2011 when lewis had his rear wing fixed on the grid.

  3. After Singapore and Japan I finally dare say this with 100% certainty where as before I always doubted a little. Rosberg has never been a real challenger to Lewis. Alright he took pole but nobody can drive perfect all the time. To quote MidweekMotorsport ‘It’s Hamiltons to lose now’ and ‘It’s Hamilton only now’. The fact it’s not eight to four wins just says it all. In the end I still don’t rate Hamilton higher than Alonso or Vettel. Surely better than Button and Raikkonen. But Rosberg is, for me, just not in the same class as any of those. I even dare say Grosjean, Webber, Ricciardo, Hülkenberg,… are bigger raw talents than he is.

    1. The fact it’s eight to four wins just says it all.*

    2. lol Ham not in Vet class guess that means Ric is better too. In what way would Vet be better than Ric lol.

      1. Hamilton is only on par with Alonso even in my opinion Jenson is better than Seb

        1. Hamilton is better than Alonso.

          Thanks to 2007, there’s no need to speculate on this.
          Nico is better than Vettel, but then again a huge number of driver on the grid are better that Vet.

          1. nico roseberg is one of the worst drivers out there and certainly not better then vettel. before the safety car came out in suzuka vettel was about 2/10ths of nico and was in a way worse car and if there was no safety car the results would have been 1. hamilton 2. vettel 3. roseberg or ricciardo

      2. @f1indofans Only Hamilton fans think he is on par with Alonso. Hamilton himself doesn’t even think that.

        1. I think he is very, very close to Alonso, far ahead of Vettel. This is coming from someone who crossed his fingers for Massa in 08 and hopes for a Rosberg title this year. I agree with @f1indofans, Button is better than Vettel.

          1. @dh1996 I’m sorry. I can’t take you serious if you really think Button is better than Vettel. Even in Button his championship year he wasn’t better than Vettel.

          2. Button is better than Vettel? Then I wonder why Button is struggling to find a drive for next season?

          3. Alonso > Hamilton > Button/Ricciardo > Rosberg=Bottas > Kimi=Vettel=Massa

            In terms of “top teams”. Question mark for Magnussen.

          4. Very respectfully, I disagree that BUT is better than VET. I have to say that VET is a few light years ahead of BUT. I am really not sure why BUT has had a drive in F1 since 2012 – he is too gentle on the car and lacks raw speed. Just yesterday, VET moved from 11th on the grid to #3.

          5. @dh1996
            Clearly you were not around in 2007.
            Lewis btae and frustrated Alonso as a rookie.

          6. @dh1996 If you rate a guy who has a handfull of podiums and three very lucky wins higher than someone who dominated the sport for four (almost five) years. Yes of course it was partly due to the car. But there has never been a champion, ever, who had a ‘bad’ car. In 2010 and 2012 Vettel his titles were far from as easy as Hamilton fans pretend. In fact the 2012 McLaren was faster than the Red Bull car.

            “Alonso > Hamilton > Button/Ricciardo > Rosberg=Bottas > Kimi=Vettel=Massa ”

            Don’t make me laugh…

          7. Hey, you’re all entitled to your opinion. Let’s just cross fingers that Vettel and Button end up in the same team.

          8. Oh, and what’s going to happen if Vettel and Kimi are equally fast (or slow) in the Ferrari next year? Are we just going to pretend that Kimi is suddenly world champion material again? ;)

        2. Alonso himself said many times that he thinks Hamilton is the best driver in the circus… Those two are the best for me. Hamilton proved to be as strong as Alonso straight away on his first f1 season as a rookie, this tells a lot.
          Vettel instead has been put down by Ricciardo this year so badly it’s not funny.

          1. @liongalahad Of course he did. He wanted to get into Vettel his head. And both Alonso and Hamilton have acted ridiculous about ’07 many times because they know they are both top drivers and by praising the other they only want to praise themselve because they finished on the same amount of points.

            I will not deny Ricciardo is having a better season. But to claim he is better than Vettel is just nonsense on the base of one season, a season in which Vettel has had a lot of bad luck which makes the points difference only look bigger than it really is.

        3. Trenthamfolk (@)
          5th October 2014, 13:51

          @f1indofans as @rushfan points out below, Hamilton beat Alonso with equal equipment in his rookie year! Alonso then spat his dummy. The world saw which is why Hamilton is considered to be better than Alonso by many. I acknowledge his style has it’s drawbacks, but there you go… I respect them both.

        4. @porschef1
          Considering Alonso himself has said on more than one occasion he believes Lewis is the most talented/quickest (not necessarily the most consistent) driver in F1 (excepting himself for the evaluation), who are you to say otherwise?

        5. There is no subjectivity with regard to this argument. Hamilton beat Alonso in the same car. Did you get into F1 after 2007?

          1. And Button beat Hamilton in the same car in 2011.

            So based on your logic, Button is better than Hamilton?

          2. Based on logic alone Nick, Lewis outscored Button 2-1 over 3 seasons and out qualified him every season (i think),so using that logic Hamilton is the victor.

    3. I disagree. We all knew Hamilton is faster, when he gets his act together. And especially one of the better drivers in the wet. Nothing new there. But on the other hand, saturday showed us why Hamilton might lose out on the championship by slipping up.

      Rosberg is doing all he can to keep the pressure on, and he is doing so very well.

      1. @bascb I agree. Rosberg can only win the title if Hamilton makes plenty of mistakes or has those little gremlins in his car. On pace I never saw it happening.

    4. Rosberg beat it to pole on dry and actually been challenging Hamilton all season, in fact beating HAM on quali, so don’t write him off just yet he has come from behind several times before this season.

      1. Which race did Rosberg come from behind? Or the entire championship? Rosberg has done well only when Hamilton has made mistakes, or has had issues. Lewis has had 6 poles this season, Rosberg has eight, one in Monaco, one in Germany and one in Hungary and none of those Saturdays are quantifiable. And one more suggestion, Calculate the championship points ignoring the race weekends where either of the drivers has had mechanical problems and see who comes on top.

      2. “in fact beating HAM on quali”

        You honestly think hes beating Hamilton on pure pace? Get your head out of the statistics book and watch what happend during the season:

        Did you you forget Hungary and Germany when he had 2 car failures? and Silverstone when he made the mistake of not challenging at the end of Q3? That is 3 qualifying sessions Nico has gone UNCHALLENGED for pole, and its still only 8-6.

        If not for all the mechanical errors Lewis has had this year, plus being hit by Rosberg himself in Spa (and not including what happend in Monaco and Canada) Hamilton would have been miles ahead of him at this stage of the season.

    5. I never understand how people put Alonso and Hamilton in the same class when Hamilton beat Alonso in the same car in his rookie year. Is there any more emphatic evidence that Hamilton is a step ahead of Alonso?

      1. No! but then again, why expect logic?

      2. Precisely. People think what they want to think, in spite of evidence to the contrary. If you are beaten by a rookie and you are a two time champion, that says alot about that rookie. Much as Ricciardo’s talent is obvious considering what he is doing in qualifying and in races to Vettel. People can make all sorts of excuses for Vettel if they wish, such as the car is not set up for him, or he’s had alot of bad luck…of course this is true. But it’s also true that when all things have been equal for both Red Bull drivers this season, Ricciardo has been Vettel’s better. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it. Much as you must accept Hamilton is as great a talent as any other in F1. Saying otherwise is asinine and only shows your own mental weakness.

        1. Craig in Adelaide
          5th October 2014, 21:08

          Vettel/Ricciardo is a bad example. Ricciardo admits that Vettel is starting to get to terms with the car, which is massively different from last years, very stable and drivable car. Ricciardo’s motivation and step up from a poor chassis is what has placed him above Vettel for the season so far, without taking anything away from him.

      3. Is that “rush” as in A Farewell to Kings?

        1. yep,ace album!

    6. @xtwl While I can agree that LH, all thngs being equal, has the upper hand, I disagree with the statement that NR has never been a real challenger. They wouldn’t be only 10 points apart with nearly equal unreliability if that were the case. There never would have been the tense moments between the two in this fantastic rivalry if that were the case.

      The last thing LH will be thinking right now is that NR is no real challenger. LH will know that after the next race NR could find himself ahead of him again. One never knows. So LH would not agree with the concept that NR is no real challenger. Many think he is doing a stellar job keeping the pressure on LH and not squandering the great car he has in this his first season of having a WDC capable car. No matter what, he will learn a ton from this year, and he will know that LH and other WDCs have not won it every time they have had the capable car.

      1. It was good to see them shake hands and talk , LH& NR at race end .

        Also , Mansell didnt give much respect to Seb on podium , properly cutting him off mid sentence ,

        1. Mansell’s social skills are not the best lol. Whoever put him up there?

          I think the handshakes are 100% PR, myself. I think Lewis will always struggle to forgive Rosberg for Monaco and Spa.

          Rosberg is seriously quick. But I have the feeling sometimes he’s looked good in qualy by sacrificing his race setup.

      2. @robbie

        The gap would luck a whole lot bigger if Nico did not cost Ham in Spa he cost him 18pts that day and could have lost a maximum 7 if NR won. Also i think you are wrong about reliabilty did you miss Hung and Ger qualifying? Ham basically could not have the chance to win starting so far back and 8w to 4 shows me Ham on front row would have took one of those. 8 to 4 proves it.

        Nico was bad today even Vet at one point looked like he could catch them Ros was completely holding Ham in the first sector. You seen Hamilton’s pace as soon as he was released. Would have won by like 20 secs plus. Had around a second in hand at some stages.

        So all in all 10 points with a extra less finish and 2 back of the grid starts is quite alot really when you can take maximum 7 pts off eachother if reliable, 4 wins is not all that special. Infact it is basically 1 win to Ros when both start on front and finish. It must be around 5 times for Hamilton.

        F1 does not work like you think, if Hamilton wins again that is 2-0 so how you think Ros will get much better i don’t know. Not very good isit if you get beat 2-0 when you have been in the team far longer. Ask Massa that he was ok in 2010 then just nosedived.

        Hopefullly Merc do the right thing and if a driver is 26 clear in last race that is the champion. Even Rs hates double points i bet he would not mind winning it that way though i bet Lewis is the same just hope Merc retire the car if one driver retires.

    7. @xtwl

      How should we take you serious you mean, you’re saying Ham is not as good as Vet and Alo? Huh i did not know Vet was beating Ric this year i must been watching a diff sport. So how are Ham and Ric not in Vet class.

  4. I won’t be at all surprised now if Hamilton does a Vettel and wins all the remaining races from Spa till Abu Double. But he’ll have 2 less on the streak though!

    1. I wont be surprised if Vettel now has a better tail end of season than DanRic !

      Why ?

      I kinda think vettel has been sandbagging a bit and as of Sept 30 his position in the standings has let him out of his contract !

  5. All in all this would have been a great race had it not been for the final incident. I really hope Bianchi’s injuries aren’t life threatening or life changing.

  6. Great race up to the accident.
    Hamilton was brilliant in the wet. So were the Red Bull boys and Button.
    Hope Jules make a full recovery.

  7. Good drive by Hamilton, and good drives by Vettel and Button!

    to the points being raised above about Rosbergs competitiveness in comparison to Hamilton, I think anyone who has watched close enough this season would agree that Hamilton has had the upper hand this season. He has won 8 races to Rosbergs 4. The reliability while now almost similar has still sided with Nico more because he hasn’t suffered any mechanical troubles in Qualifying making him start from the back of the grid like Lewis did which compromised his chances in them races. But also Hamilton made mistakes in several races himself (Austria Qualifying for example). they are closely matched though and Nico has shown he is a very capable driver but for me he just lacks the last little bit of speed that the best in the sport (Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso) have shown to have.

    4 races left, Hamiltons to lose now but only needs 1 bad result and things could swing back in Nicos favour.

    1. If Hamilton can’t win the title due to reliability or the normal chaos of racing this year, people will look back on this race, more than Bahrain, and say, he was robbed. Even Nico admitted that they were on the same set up basically but he couldn’t handle the oversteer. Handling oversteer in the driving rain in a formula race car is one of those things that separates people from the other people. Nico was crying on the radio about the oversteer but Hamilton was just doing it. It was terrifyig to just watch the cars slashing through those rivers in the esses. Hamilton has made some amazing gaffes, but often enough he just has a sublime race that no one else could possible do.

      On this point, let me add, I read Gary Anderson saying how Hamilton, not Rosberg, was going to be disadvantaged by the ban on “coaching,” because Hamilton is not clever enough to figure the car by himself. I think the defense can rest now. But I know this old chesnut just won’t go away, even with a performance like this. That’s the trouble with stereotypes.

  8. I think JB proved today why he still deserves a seat in F1, in a top team. Yes, he is getting on, but I have seen nothing to suggest he can’t do exactly what is needed of him.

    Hoping for an Alonso-Button partnership, or Vettel-Button for next season, doesn’t matter if it’s Ferrari or McLaren, as long as it’s a good car!

    Thoughts are with Jules. Hoping we don’t see something similar to Maria or Michael.

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