Start, Suzuka, 2019

Bottas victory clinches team’s title for Mercedes

2019 Japanese Grand Prix summary

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Valtteri Bottas scored his third victory of 2019 after passing both Ferraris off the line at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.

A stuttering start by pole sitter Sebastian Vettel cost him the lead to Bottas, who also out-dragged the other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc which started on the front row. Leclerc then tangled with Max Verstappen, leaving the Red Bull driver with damage which forced him out of the race.

Lewis Hamilton ended lap one in third place and finished there, applying huge pressure to Vettel after a late pit stop for soft tyres. The first three drivers home, plus fourth placed Alexander Albon, all pitted twice on a day when tyre degradation proved higher than expected.

Leclerc recovered to sixth place after making three pit stops, the latter to take a fresh set of tyres in an unsuccessful bid to keep Hamilton from taking the bonus point for fastest lap. He quickly fought his way through the midfield, but was unable to catch Carlos Sainz Jnr’s one-stopping McLaren.

Victory, third place and fastest lap for Mercedes ensured the scored enough points to put the constructors’ championship out of Ferrari’s reach. Mercedes have won the title for a record-equalling sixth year in a row.

After a poor qualifying session earlier in the day, Renault bounced back, Daniel Ricciardo taking seventh place after Nico Hulkenberg waved him by. Hulkenberg took 10th, limiting the damage to McLaren in the constructors’ championship. Lando Norris finished out of the points after pitting early due to brake overheating, caused by his car ingesting damaged parts from the Leclerc/Verstappen clash.

Pierre Gasly was originally classified eighth after a late clash with Sergio Perez left the Racing Point driver in the barrier. That promoted Lance Stroll to the final points position.

However the chequered flag was waved in error one lap early, meaning the results have to be taken based on the standings at the end of the penultimate lap. Perez therefore was classified ninth ahead of Hulkenberg.

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2019 Japanese Grand Prix reaction

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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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80 comments on “Bottas victory clinches team’s title for Mercedes”

  1. Ferrari got a great car and an even better power unit but their drivers are consistently making mistakes and not getting the most out of the package.

    Is there something personal going on with Charles and Max? Especially after Max shoved off Charles at Redbull Ring.

    1. Personal?
      These are just to stupid brawling kids.
      Let them grow. I still have hopes only for Charles though.

      1. Yes both not giving each other any room but in my opinion it was Lec’s mistake this time to hit Max.

        1. Max left a lot of room this time. Leclerc was very optimisticly trying to keep his already lost position.

        2. They analysed it afterwards on the Sky Pad and in this case 100% of the blame has to go to LeClerc. Max has had more time to reign in his impulsive driving, whereas Charles still has a bit further to go on that front, and it shows.

      2. They’re both too old and have way too much racing experience to keep chalking it up to “they’re young”. When we do that we trivialize their actions. Treat this as it is, unacceptable behavior for top tier motorsport.

    2. Leclerc making it clear he won’t be intimidated into giving way to Verstappen, I guess.
      Viewed as a single incident, probably has to go down as an error by Leclerc.
      I’m not entirely happy saying so, but strategically it makes sense; if Verstappen believes he’s going to get the advantage every time he plays hardball on the track, it gives him an edge over his likely closest rival. Leclerc doesn’t strike me as a kid who’s going to settle for being best of the rest.

      I don’t think he would have pulled the move on a driver with whom there was more mutual understanding.

      1. I agree with this. Essentially Leclerc is putting out his ellbows. Verstappen is getting some of his own medicine. Serves him right.

        He must do this every time otherwise Max will simply dominate him.

      2. I agree. Fight fire with fire. He has to let VER know he won’t kowtow to him as some of the drivers have.
        He is a phenom and I think strong enough emotionally to withstand the negativity from the media and others.

      3. It was poor driving from Charles. If it was strategic, then it was very clumsy. Max isn’t the sort of person to be put off from making a move on someone, so it will come down to Charles needing to decide whether to continue to be reckless (in which case his reputation will take a hit) or to drive sensibly.

        I suspect, like most top drivers (unless you drive for Haas), he’ll adjust slightly and get into the sweet spot of hard but fair racing.

    3. @amg44

      Mercedes are the best team and have caught Ferrari on race pace in every race that you claim they are better.

  2. Congrats for Mercedes for the 6th consecutive WCC. An impressive run of success.

  3. Bottas victory clinches team’s title for Mercedes

    Well, you can say it clinched them both.
    The other one is just missing the name of Merc driver.

    1. And even then it’s already written in all likelihood, hamilton could go on holiday now, bottas wouldn’t recover the disadvantage seeing how the races will go realistically, he doesn’t race alone.

    2. Interesting Bottas beat HAM in qualifying and the race.
      Must have been that “massive 0.5 second” pull HAM mentioned in practice 2.
      Well done Valterri!

  4. 7 for 7 in 2020 please!

    1. Why would any sane F1 fan really want that?

      They beat Ferrari record, they can give that sport back now.

  5. Anyone else notice they got the race classification wrong at the end of the feed? Perez and Hulkenberg were still classified 9th and 10th.

    1. @wsrgo The race was concluded a lap early as the chequered flag was waved at the end of lap 52.

  6. Great day for Merc F1 Bottas certainly drove very well today and deserved the win. I’m unsure about pitting Hamilton while he was in the lead, but anyway done deal now. Also Bottas won from the second row is that also a first an Suzuka?

    1. @johnrkh I think Hamilton’s second stop was as necessary as Bottas’s first (the timing). Bottas was 7 seconds ahead when Vettel pitted and his tyres were fine there was no chance of an undercut, and he could have kept going and forced a one stopper.

      1. @wsrgo Yes as I just comment to @david-br on the same subject it does look like Merc gifted the win to Bottas. Internal politics/moral/team boosting going on.

  7. The Skeptic (@)
    13th October 2019, 8:10

    Mercedes engineered the result today by making Hamilton’s second stop. It was an easy 1-2 otherwise, with Hamilton in front. However Bottas would have been unhappy to lose to his teammate due to strategy (as Ricciardo did to Verstappen at Spain in 2016).

    1. Yes, i agree. I think BOT deserved the call though. Wouldve been very harsh on him to lose the win like that as he drove very well all weekend. Well done Valterri, Well done Merc. Now…let’s get this 6th WDC tied up ASAP Lewis.

    2. What race you were watching? Bottas took the lead and ran in to the distance.

      Hamilton was stuck behind Vettel, no strategy would get him ahead of Bottas after loosing so much time.

      1. @jureo I suggest you watch the race again. Hamilton was 9 seconds clear of Bottas towards the end of the race, however it would have been incredibly harsh on Bottas to keep Hamilton out and might have risked a collision even between the two of them, so they pulled Hamilton in. Correct decision by Merc.

      2. Mercedes clearly ruined Hamilton’s race today because they simply wanted him to pressure Vettel, so that Bottas can have free pass and secure constructor’s title.

        Vettel’s second is gifted to him by Mercedes and he knows that he should thank Mercedes for this.

        Who know? Might be that Mercedes wanted that did to finish 2nd so that the Italian mafia team will continue to give preference to him instead of Leclerc.

        1. If you’re not still convinced, think of this. Hamilton took longer to put even though he was slowing off. It can be very advantageous if and only if his race is of 1-pitstop.

  8. Congrats boys and well done Valterri, Merc have the best car in the race it does not mean it is easy to win races, Ferrari can always stay infront and have a huge inlap outlap with there engine modes what Hamilton has done in recent weeks even when coming 2nd some races was outstanding the pressure he put on.

    More should be made of the fact leclerc could have easily killed Lewis Hamilton today, they did not even notice it at first what a swerve Hamilton had to do it and it still knocked his mirror off, if that hit his head could of been a Justin Wilson. Worst driving i have ever seen and also feel for Max big time. Yet another choke by Vettel one step forwards 3 back with him.

    1. Yes that was very close. After the race Lewis was checking his rear wing. I think the front wing end plate hit the wing mirror and also the rear wing.

    2. @dan

      Put Vettel in the Mercedes to see if he’s a choker or not. Easier car to drive on its tires and faster on race pace. Merc have been the best team by far all season.

      1. Hamilton and Alonso would’ve won the 2017, 2018 & 2019 titles driving for Ferrari.

      2. @bigjoe put Vettel in the 2nd fastest car? He’d be scrapping with Albon every race for 5th pal.

        1. Can’t say it better, I’m afraid.

    3. Dude. You can’t blame Leclerc. He didn’t know that a bit was hanging off his front wing. He thought it was just the mirror, which he was holding in place down the straights. Ferrari should be the ones to tell him ‘Box now, your endplate is hanging off and it is dangerous’, but instead they just said box to repair the damage or something, which doesn’t let him know that there is a potentially dangerous piece of debris on his car.

      1. Sparks flying off the endplate? I think he could have worked out it was dangerous. I blame the stewards though, the fact they didn’t wave the black and orange shows how incompetent they are. Anyway, Leclerc caused it all by deliberately running into Verstappen.

        1. How could he have worked it out himself? Spark is a very common thing. It only means your car is in danger. The debris such as today’s is very dangerous and completely a different scenario than just sparks from the car.

          It’s very evident Ferrari is backstabbing their better driver time and time again using disgusting Mafia esque tricks such as the undercut-without-notifying in Singapore, Super Cold tyres in today’s qualifier etc. He knows that very clearly. He intentionally wanted to sabotage Ferrari’s plan for this.

          I repeat again, he is Leclerc. If he wanted the fastest lap he would’ve got it.

        2. My concern at the moment is I’m wondering if I should stop watching F1 altogether. Seems like simply a war of internal politics. Ferrari clearly knew they have a far better car than anyone else. And they want the fat check & celebrity dud to win it for them. Anyone who thinks their suddenly acquired exceptional downforce and super-engine is legal should be naive. I’m not at all surprised that Vettel’s erred start is simply waived off as “no investigation needed”. It’s good for FIA so long as Ferrari have their glory days which will inevitably draw viewership.

  9. Merc wanted to avoid late-drama between HAM and BOT in order to secure the championship. Clearly an administrative and rational decision. We would have seen a better race but…

    1. Indeed. To be fair, Hamilton could have stayed out and credit to him for pitting and obeying the team order. Can’t stand his moaning over the radio during the race though :)

      1. “can’t stand him whining”…

        Everyone who says this hasn’t even played F1 in simulation.

  10. Vettel quite happy with 2nd in the post-race interview despite his mistake off the line. He’s probably right that Mercedes could have won anyhow due to their better race performance, but his comment ‘I don’t know what happened to Charles’ was funny. Obviously he was happy that Leclerc was some distance off him today, but actually it looked to be a weird knock-on effect of his own bad start that confused Leclerc, making his own start slow, leading to him racing Hamilton down to the first corner and then trying to barge past Verstappen, which ruined both their races. Leclerc learning today that ‘hard racing’ doesn’t always work that well.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      13th October 2019, 8:48

      “a weird knock-on effect of his own bad start that confused Leclerc”

      I don’t want to look disrespectful, but it’s the first time in my life I hear a racing driver looks for the driver ahead at the start, and not at the lights.

      1. Exactly. And it happened only to LEC, just to turn this race into a forgettable one for Ferrari starting with lap1.

      2. Leclerc didn’t need to be looking at Vettel, he’d still perceive his stop-start movement in his peripheral vision.

      3. yes, if that’s the case then it speaks volumes more about LEC than VET.

    2. @david-br
      I think you have the right concept but I reach the opposite conclusion.

      The drivers should be watching the lights to get the fastest response and avoid being duped by anyone who false starts.

      I watched the replays in slow-mo several times, it is possible Leclerc was distracted and got a poorer start. I am convinced, however, Bottas went with Vettel. But since he was reacting to Vettel, and the light went out just after Vettel jumped, Bottas got a perfect, if totally sloppy lucky start.

      And for the luck vs preparation thing, this wasn’t great preparation and opportunity. He was simply lucky Vettel jumped just barely to soon. Another split second and Bottas would have made a false start.

  11. Yup im convicned Hamilton could have won the race today but we would have had groans from people that Ham was favourd even though he was put well on the back foot if he had just pitted 2 laps eariler and put mediums on i feel he would have won, but you could say Bottas should of had that option today, just glad there was not a death today Leclerc scared me big time, criminal what he does especially with what he as experianced with 2 close friends dying.

    What about Vettel chucking a chance of a win away keep this same energy at the end of season when you all moan how Lewis had it easy how many thrown wins away by ferrari this year, by far the best qualifyer with Merc the best race car.

    1. I agree! HAM could have won even without a car,just by jogging. He is so fast!

  12. Once again we see Lewis’s fans trying to claim Ferrari are better.
    Congratulations Mercedes on your WCC. You were the best team by far and best car on race pace all season, well done all the lads at Brackley.

    1. What more evidence do you want? 5 poles in a row and i am pretty sure they will get all the remaining poles as well. If Ferrari drivers continue to make mistakes it doesn’t mean that Ferrari is slower than Merc. All the gps data show Ferrari is an equal of Merc (fast and medium corners) and only behind little bit on the slow speed corners but way up in a straight line. Both cars have their advantages, it is the drivers who should maximize the result and get most out of their respective cars and Ferrari drivers are consistently making mistakes.

      1. I’m gonna say ferrari indeed proved better than mercedes after the summer break finally in qualifying, however in race pace mercedes looks generally better, take a look at the first part of he race here example, you will see vettel slowly fall away from bottas and hamilton slowly catch up to vettel, ofc we didn’t see leclerc’s pace but still.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        13th October 2019, 13:43

        It’s been said many times that Vettel isn’t very happy in the Ferrari – it’s quick but it’s not suited to his style. Hamilton is driving a car that has been designed and tweaked to suit his driving style over several years. The Ferrari may be faster on ultimate lap pace but the Mercedes is a much better overall package and it shows in the results.

        Don’t listen to your fans downplaying your success though Mercedes – you’ve done a great job once again and you HAVE NOT won simply because Ferrari handed it to you. You deserved it yet again.

        1. @petebaldwin To be fair, Ferrari had the faster car in 2018 and Vettel really handed Mercedes those titles. Even in 2017, a better driver for Ferrari would have clinched at least the WDC.

          This year, Mercedes indeed truly outshined Ferrari. The drivers made plenty of errors, but it wouldn’t have mattered (much) if they had driven perfectly. Suppose they could/should have won Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Austria and Japan, but that still would not have been enough.

      3. @amg44 +1 They look about even, as they have been for 3 seasons now. Obviously, being so close, advantage tends to vary between Mercedes and Ferrari from race to race, but just now Ferrari are focusing on qualifying and using their straight line speed to defend in the races, versus Mercedes better tyre wear. That makes sense given Ferrari have two competitive drivers now. They can lock out the front row, hamper Hamilton and try to control the race. Only they’ve been handing the advantage over to Mercedes and their drivers for free in far too many races, as today.

        1. ‘even’ from the summer break only. but, yes. they have thrown some victories in the first part of the season.

        2. About even? In what way? Mercedes has been the most dominant team in history.

          Ferrari have moments of brilliance and get a win here and there, mostly they are struggling to compete on near same level and only sometimes.

          As a full package Mercedes are better. Considerably better.

          1. @jureo 2017, 2018 Ferrari were ahead in the early season. Even this year they threw races away where they had the better car. This year they clearly have equal or better engine performance. After that, yes, sure, Ferrari’s litany of errors – driver, strategy, aero packages that go in the wrong direction, failure to realize that quickly – all give Mercedes a good advantage over the season. But it’s not the case that Mercedes have been dominant when you take away factors where they as a team have simply performed better than Ferrari.

    2. They also have a much stronger pairing then Ferrari, when one merc driver makes a mistake you know the other will step up with Ferrari not so much

  13. Am I the only one who thought Bottas’ start was a little bit too good? He’s reacting much faster than those around him, I’d guess that he’s actually reacting to Vettel’s false start, and thus gets moving before everyone else. Luckily for Bottas, it seems the lights went out just before he got moving rather than after.

    1. @oel-f1 They’re supposed to allow for that possibility by factoring in human response times. Any faster and it’s deemed the driver anticipated the start.

      1. @david-br That may be the case in other sports, such as 100m sprint in track and field, but in F1 it seems it is allowed to “anticipate the start”. Remember Austria 2017?

        1. @oel-f1 But I think the F1 stewards do use that response time to judge if a driver false started – wasn’t there an Alonso example like that? The fact is Bottas’s start wasn’t questioned so they wouldn’t have examined it. I thought they’d factored response time in when they made the Austria 2017 decision? Can’t be sure now.

          1. @david-br I can’t remember the discussion about Alonso’s false start from Shanghai in 2010, however I had to check it out again. In the link below, it seems that he’s moving before the lights go out. But clearly, so did Bottas in Austria. But I guess the start sensors allow for some movement.


          2. @oel-f1 Wow, 9 years ago! Alonso’s ‘reaction’ was just way faster than anyone else’s – it looked impossible right away.

    2. @oel-f1 No, you see Verstappen making the same start. Hamilton has a great start, but then gets blocked by Leclerc’s poorer start.

  14. Ferrari as usual. It’s either the driver or the team making a mistake when the win is possible for them. This year could have been much more competitive if Ferrari as a team utilized their car advantage properly. Even if only they won those races where they were on pole, the championship table would have been different today.

  15. Hopefully bottas can keep this going into next year and give us a good championship battle like 2016

    1. @carlosmedrano Weren’t 2014 and 2015 good championship battles too?

      1. Yeah 2014 was good but after spa it kinda just got one sided. 2015 was all hamilton domination though

    2. @blazzz I think what @carlosmedrano meant was the last time we had a championship battle it was 2016. 2014, 2015 and 2016 all were competitive because two teammates in two identical cars were competing for the championship.

    3. @carlosmedrano How on earth was 2016 a good championship battle? It was constantly a case of Hamilton mostly crushing Rosberg mixed with Hamilton suffering a lot of mechanical issues setting him back in points again.

      Hardly a great “battle” if one driver is doing all the racing and the other just needs to finish to stay ahead.

  16. @oel-f1 @david-br
    It WAS a blistering start from Bottas, again endorsed by the way he chugged on the Champs on the podium. He must have just been under the reaction time that I assume FIA too has….From Wikipedia

    In track and field sprints, the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, has a rule that if the athlete moves within 0.1 seconds AFTER the gun has fired the athlete has false-started.[2] This figure is based on tests that show the human brain cannot hear and process the information from the start sound in under 0.10 seconds

    1. @aaaa Remember Austria 2017? Bottas was moving before the lights went out, yet the sensors didn’t indicate a false start.

      1. @oel-f1 Yeah, I was thinking of that example too. He has form :o)

      2. @oel-f1 You remember wrong. Bottas was moving 2 tenths of a second AFTER the lights went out. Which indeed was just fine since it’s considered an acceptable human reaction time.

        1. He’s moving just before the lights go out, certanly not 2 tenths after.

    2. @oel-f1 @aaaa OEL may have a point though. Bottas could well have been reacting to Vettel’s false start and just got lucky that the lights went out at the right time, allowing him an advantage but not so fast it triggered the human response limit rule. Drivers are used to others having poor starts and not being put off, but false starts are very rare and, like in sprint races (on foot I mean) they tend to trigger everyone else nearby to leave early or cause confusion.

  17. VB got a genuine big hug from Lewis, you cant fake that !
    Congrats to all at Merc, the game is afoot til the end of the season?

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