Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2016

Ninth win for Rosberg puts title in sight

2016 Japanese Grand Prix summary

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Nico Rosberg scored his ninth victory of the season in the Japanese Grand Prix on another tough day for his team mate.

Start, Suzuka, 2016
2016 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
While Rosberg kept his lead at the start, Lewis Hamilton made a poor getaway and fell back to eighth place. He spent the rest of the race clawing his way through the field, and as the chequered flag fell he was still trying to wrest second place from Max Verstappen.

Rosberg opened up a 33-point lead over Hamilton in the championship. That means he could now finish second to his team mate in all the remaining races and clinch the title.

The two Ferraris completed the top five, Sebastian Vettel ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who jumped Daniel Ricciardo at his final pit stop. The second Red Bull driver was delayed on his last visit to the pits.

The Force India pair came home ahead of the two Williams drivers, strengthening their hold on fourth place in the constructors’ championship. Both Williams drivers ran one-stop strategies having started outside the top ten. Neither Haas driver scored despite both of them starting in the points, though Romain Grosjean finished within a second of tenth-placed Valtteri Bottas.

All 22 starters finished the race.

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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56 comments on “Ninth win for Rosberg puts title in sight”

  1. Great weekend from Rosberg, deserves the title this year kept his performance level consistently high.

  2. Jesus Ferrari Really Jesus. No way you can keep any driver and attract another if you keep doing same strategy mistakes every single time Vettel did all he could and perhaps did even better than what you could even ask today and then your strategy guys put the wrong one again (im really unable to count your mistakes) and then maurizio says that Vettel has to earn his contract.

    1. Totally agree. Vettel strategy was incredibly bad. Incredible how he was able to lose the podium.

    2. +1

      SF strategy level is way below Seb’s level. It must be helluva motivating…

      1. Think their strategy has been on par with vettels level, all pretty much of the target. It is kimi that is having the good season.

        1. @maxv no, just no. While Seb has made a few errors, Ferrari have been appalling all year on strategy and he’s had the worst luck in mechanical issues as well. Put both together and he’s at 10+ races affected by bad luck through no fault of his own. That is not to be underestimated.

          1. @mattds
            The More Ferrari starting to make mistakes the more mistakes seb made so its inter related in their pursuit of trying to gain some thing out of nothing and its Ferrari mistakes and their strategy team Blunders making a task very hard. I mean did every one forgot how they told vettel about undercutting max in Germany when he was some thing like 8-10 sec behind.
            I dont know why their strategy team made so many errors this year even the drivers put them in commanding position they will take the Wrong tire at wrong time approach quite consistently.

    3. Agree X3 comments above. Sickening. They’re reactive instead of proactive. Great motivation

    4. SevenFiftySeven
      9th October 2016, 9:02

      I can’t believe Maurizio said that to Vettel.

      I have a hunch as to what is happening at Ferrari. Since I don’t have proof, this is all just hearsay in effect. Anyway, here goes:

      First of all, Maurizio is a weak team principle, and Marchione is no match for Luca De Montizemolo when it comes to getting on Bernie’s skin from time to time. Luca used to play a balancing power-play act with Bernie Ecclestone. Since Marchione is not filling up that role, the pressure of Ferrari doing well is solely down on Maurizio’s hands, who has no answers. He doesn’t appear to have full control over Ferrari’s F1 program, nor does he command respect based on personality alone. So, the only thing he can do is play the drivers against each other to secure his own position in the team.

      Kimi’s contract should never have been renewed. Did BE have anything to do with that? After all, BE wants marketable people driving F1 cars. So, maybe Maurizio courted BE and BE dropped a bone. On top of that, stories (mostly fabricated and completely baseless) started coming around that Vettel is the boss of the Ferrari team. This makes Mauriozio look weak, and that was the intention. So, what do you do? You take the same path that Ferrari has taken (which hasn’t yielded any results) of taking a menacing posture as a team and coming down hard on your drivers. Active role in car development was handed over to Kimi this year. Naturally, he’s doing better than last year. But, what’s the expected outcome of all this? To win races? No.

      It is meant to sway inter-team power hierarchy in a particular direction in the short run, while completely ignoring the system in place and the development direction of the team for the long term. And, let’s not forget that Mercedes has aced this formula. The early momentum from 2014 is still carrying forward. Ferrari isn’t doing a really bad job; it is being outdone. More recently, Red Bull have capitalized on Ferrari’s internal misdirection and indiscretion. The strategy people at Ferrari have lost many opportunities by not being decisive. This counts for 80% of the times when Red Bull has outperformed Ferrari. It’s clear from today’s race that Vettel is the real jewel in Ferrari, not Kimi. Give Kimi equal opportunity, but don’t make Vettel uncomfortable in his own team. Unlike Alonso, Vettel has the ability to build that team like Michael did. Alonso mostly drove around problems, making Ferrari look better. In either case, Ferrari’s performance is not because the drivers weren’t and aren’t performing. The team isn’t performing. It lacks vision. The politics within Scuderia Ferrari makes this worse.

      1. How are you going to say Kimi didn’t deserve his contract? Yeah he’s old, but he’s been pretty evenly matched with Vettel this year and made much fewer mistakes.

    5. At this moment, Seb is bring outscored by a guy who had been completely written off for the last two years and is nearly 10 years past his peak whilst being one of the best paid drivers on the field. Today Ferrari messed up but Vettel should be on another level to Kimi and lets not forget he was outqualified on his favourite circuit.
      Ferrari are tough though. They ditched Schumi and Kimi despite their titles and effectively did the same to Alonso despite nearly 2 titles in inferior cars at best. Vettel should have known what he was getting into, a circus effectively.

      1. Seb has lot more DNF´s and Penalties, he clearly wins in terms of podiums and race results, so he´s not being clearly outscored.

        1. You can’t deny the fact that In the second half of this season kimi is matching vettel for pace

          1. He was even outqualified by Kimi on one of his most successful tracks. Vettel was hired to be no 1. This has shades of the Massa Kimi partnership in 2008. Back then Kimi’s fans were making a number of excuses mainly blaming Ferrari for their driver being slower/outperformed/behind in the standings

  3. Ferrari need to infuse some courage into their race strategy department. When they’re last of the top 3, with a clear gap to #4, they can afford to be daring.

    Williams move into the points at the expense of Haas, but are outscored by Force India.

    I loved Hulkenberg’s overtake at the chicane, combined with his pithy comment “See you later!”.

    It was also great to see all 22 cars finish, and with no VSC/SC interruptions.

    I don’t think Rosberg has ever commanded such a lead this late in the championship, its his (or his car’s) to lose, really.

    1. They were daring and that is were Ferrari went wrong. Put on the hards and handle the gap!!

      1. @magon4 – Daring to fit the softs, yes. But they called Vettel in quite late resulting in him being undercut.

        1. @phylyp yep. They should have gone in at lap 32 or so, before Lewis, not after him. He had been losing chunks of time for laps at that point, in the faint hope of using the softs at the end, that wouldnt have lasted 18 laps anyway…

    2. Even though Haas qualified well getting into points is another question and the force India have consolidated their position

  4. Ham needs a DNF from Nico to get back into it.
    But with 9 wins, Nico has deserved it.

    1. What if Lewis wins the next 4? He would have 10 wins .. not a fan of Lewis but the guy did have some bad luck this year in terms of engine trouble relative to rosberg
      .it looks increasingly like rosberg’s year though.. he doesn’t have to beat Hamilton in the remaining races…needs 3 sec places and a third place.. but you never know..reliability could still play a big role

  5. I’m not going to lie, I jumped when Max hit Lewis with the Verstappen-chop. I have been waiting for those two to have a serious battle on track for nearly a year and a half now.

    1. @kingshark Yeah, me too. Shame it ended so quick. This was the perfect track for it though.

  6. Kudos to Rosenburg

  7. Yeah, called it yesterday… Hamilton is busy poking the media, meanwhile Nico gets another win…

  8. Also 7th full house (all cars classified) and 1st time there are 2 full houses in one season (China 2016), if you don’t count USA 2005 (6 car start) and Italy 2005

    And Suzuka 2015 also produced a full house.

    1. Least boring “full house” (where did you get that term from? One side of the Atlantic but not the other?) ever? (less boring than Valencia 2011, anyway)

  9. sunny stivala
    9th October 2016, 8:15

    Number 44: “Max moved under braking” yes he did, same thing he did to Raikkonen, but when he did that to Raikkonon, you came out and sided with him.

    1. Max did the same to Rosberg in Germany, and the one who was penalized was Rosberg for his reaction (rude, indeed).
      The only driver penalised for moving under brake was Perez in Canada a couple of years ago, for what i can remember.

      1. You might want to watch Germany again….

        1. I watched very well, Max moved under braking when Nico tried to pass him, then Nico did that clumsy manoeuvre.

  10. Dear Max

    Thank you for your incredibly late, borderline wreckless defensive driving which you consistently getaway with.

    Your American fake ID is in the post.

    Yours
    Nico

    1. Wreckless is correct. All cars finished.

    2. He will need it when he gets in the podium in Austin :)

  11. I was wondering if Nico was saving his engine in the second part of the race. Don’t you think he could have open the gap to more then 5 seconds on Max’s Red Bull? Lewis was 15 second faster overall in that part of the race.
    I’m also thinking that Lewis had to push more often this year, and that he generally drives more aggressive than Nico. Nobody thinks this could be part of the reason why he suffered more failures (apart from sabotage’s theory)?
    P.S. Excuse me for my english, it’s not my language

    1. He was definitely pacing. Lewis had to push to salvage his race, all Nico had to do was keep the gap with Max manageable. I’m sure they had the engine blowout last race in mind.

      1. I agree, it would be stupid for Nico to push more than necessary, after what happened in Malaysia. Moreover he has older engines than Lewis ones, right now.

  12. The second time this season that all the drivers who started the race also finished it (the first time since China early in the season).

  13. nine wins for rosberg. if he loses the championship its just going to look unreal. i think he will win it from here tho, he has really improved this year and looks much more complete than he did before. he deserves to be the champion this year without doubt.

    1. @matijaleader How unreal was the final races of 2007 then? :)

      1. They were very unreal indeed 😛 it’s never over till it’s over. And the championship situation has been swinging one way or the other a lot of times between Lewis and Nico. But i think Nico will finally do it this year.

        1. Well if Lewis wins the next 4 he would have 10 .. no doubt rosberg has driven well this year.. but still early to conclude rosberg deserves the title especially considering some of his race wins were due to engine issues Lewis had

  14. If Rosberg keeps up his form for the end of the season I think it’s going to be fair to say even with the luck early in the season he has earned this championship.

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    9th October 2016, 15:55

    I will say this once so pay attention and take notes and feel free to provide counterarguments.

    Lewis’s starts this season are not a new thing – Mercedes had issues last year when both their drivers were swamped by Ferrari and Williams at the start. Hamilton had bad starts in the first races of the season and it continues. Now we cannot look at this in isolation.

    There’s been precedent in F1 recently where a fantastic driver wasn’t able to overcome his poor starts – that driver was, of course, Mark Webber. As we’ve seen from Mark and Lewis, it’s without a doubt practically impossible to overcome bad starts in a particular car. Mark was extremely talented as is Lewis.

    The fact that this championship was decided by car starts and engine issues is unacceptable. Mercedes had a responsibility to correct the launch issues. A driver should expect no less from his team – Lewis has been racing for 15 years and has not had start issues so we have to say that it is the car and the team that are at fault here. He cannot fix the launch and he can only improve his starts marginally.

    The question then is why did Mercedes NOT correct the launch of the car? I don’t see conspiracies but at the very least we have a major case of incompetence and a case of gifting the WCL (World Car Launch) championship to Nico.

    At least Mercedes should ask the FIA to retract the WDC championship for 2016 and call it a WCL to account for their gross negligence.

    1. Doesn’t Nico Rosberg have the same launch system as Lewis?

    2. A good driver is a complete driver: the conditions are the same to everyone and we all know the formula keeps changing over the years, sometimes favoring some drivers strengths, sometimes others. What I don’t get is a need to fix the formula to eliminate a particular driver’s shortcomings.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        9th October 2016, 23:53

        First the conditions are not the same to everyone. Apparently, Verstappen’s car was quicker than Ricciardo’s.

        The team has to fix the launch for Lewis – that’s their responsibility. He’s tried to improve but there are things that people cannot do for some reason. You cannot be on a team and not have the team correct the launch control without saying that the team is not favoring the other driver when he’s clearly doing better with it.

        The team’s lack of correcting the issue becomes the issue – Lewis tried to have better launches and he simply can’t. Does that make Lewis a bad driver? Maybe but he’s had good launches throughout his entire. Is that enough to decide the championship? If it is, then it is the World Launch Control Championship.

        Take away Launch Control and Rosberg has lost by quite a margin.

        1. These cars dont have launch control anymore.

        2. The launch of the car is controlled by the driver. He has to find the bite point of the clutch on the starts. As Tayyib Abu states, there is no launch control. (I guess launch control is the driver.)

    3. Championships have been decided by reliability, starts and luck before. This is F1 and its sport and those 3 things factor in. Hungary 2008, Massa controls the race brilliantly but his engine lets go 1 lap from the end. Didn’t see people going bezerk then. Singapore when the light malfunctioned, people laughed now,”Oh the light shouldn’t settle the title.” You know what I did as Ferrari fan, I shook it off and said thats sport. Michael in 1998 Suzuka, he stalls the car on the grid and goes to the back. Game over, Mika wins I dont recall people saying it was tainted, fake champ. He won, get over it. Mansell’s tyre blows out in Adelaide when he would have won, and theres so many instances like that in the history of F1. I’m sorry for ranting but I’m tired of people saying there F1 fans and then just bashing it.

      1. totally agree with this!

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