Race Report: Bottas win gives Mercedes 6th title at Japanese Grand Prix

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SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 13: Race winner Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates on the podium with the trophy and the champagne during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Typhoon-corrected, the Japanese Grand Prix was mostly likely going to be a very exciting weekend but it didn’t escape losing the Free Practice session 3 and all activity on Saturday for safety reasons. What we saw in the first two practice sessions was a strong Mercedes with new upgrades and Ferrari seemingly struggling on the Suzuka circuit.

Would that be the reality? It was hard to tell given that Ferrari locked out the front row during Sunday morning’s reschedule qualifying session and Sebastian Vettel threw down a very competitive lap for pole. Despite the quick pace, it was still believed that Mercedes had a better long-run race pace.

The race turned into a real strategy battle focused on tire wear, deg rates and more. Mercedes needed to outscore Ferrari by 14 points to lock out their 6th Constructor’s championship this weekend and they seemed intent to do so.

Win

A win for Valtteri Bottas who drove an impeccable race seizing the lead on the back of Vettel’s fans start. Valtteri mirrored Vettel’s 2-stopper and made it work.

A win for for Lewis Hamilton who had a ragged weekend but on soft tires late int eh race, Lewis put the bit between his teeth and reeled Vettel in for a Mercedes 1, 2 and the Constructor’s Championship for the 6th time in a row.

A big win for Carlos Sainz who didn’t put a foot wrong and hauled his McLaren up to 5th while his teammate, Lando Norris languished back in 13 after colliding with Alexander Albon’s Red Bull.

A win or Pierre Gasly who ran a strong race and finished well into the point for a 7th place finish and looked like the guy Red Bull thought they had hired but was never able to produce.

A win for Renault F1’s Daniel Ricciardo who turned a ragged weekend into a 7th place result and his teammate, who was faring better for most of the race, also in the point oof 9th place. Their weekend looked dodgy after qualifying but they converted it into a points result.

Fail

Af fail for Ferrari who locked out the front row and gave it away on the first lap with a false start from Sebastian and a clash between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen that put a damper on an already wet weekend. The Ferrari tire degradation was always going to make a win hard and Merc simply had better race pace.

A fail for Haas F1Who had both cars fall out of the top 10 and languish midfield for no points. Kevin Magnussen said his seat was loose and moving around.

A fail for Daniil Kvyat who couldn’t run with his teammate all weekend long leaving Gasly in the points and Kvyat down in 12th on a weekend Honda needed to be more spectacular than that.

WTH

A WTH for Valtteri Bottas who magically seemed to resonate with the new upgrades and returned to form as the #Beardy Bottas we all know and love.

A WTH for Alfa Romeo who yo-yo’d with decent pace and then no pace on Sunday.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 13: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10 leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90 and Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on October 13, 2019 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Simon Galloway / LAT Images)

Japanese Grand Prix Race result

POSDRIVERCARLAPSGAP
1Valtteri BottasMercedes521h21m46.755s
2Sebastian VettelFerrari5213.343s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes5213.858s
4Alexander AlbonRed Bull/Honda5259.537s
5Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren/Renault521m09.101s
6Charles LeclercFerrari511 Lap
7Daniel RicciardoRenault511 Lap
8Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda511 Lap
9Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes511 Lap
10Nico HulkenbergRenault511 Lap
11Lance StrollRacing Point/Mercedes511 Lap
12Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Honda511 Lap
13Lando NorrisMcLaren/Renault511 Lap
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari511 Lap
15Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari511 Lap
16Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo/Ferrari511 Lap
17Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari511 Lap
18George RussellWilliams/Mercedes50Not running
19Robert KubicaWilliams/Mercedes502 Laps
Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda14Accident damage

Driver’s Championship

POSDRIVERPOINTS
1Lewis Hamilton338
2Valtteri Bottas274
3Charles Leclerc223
4Max Verstappen212
5Sebastian Vettel212
6Carlos Sainz Jr.76
7Pierre Gasly73
8Alexander Albon64
9Daniel Ricciardo40
10Nico Hulkenberg35
11Sergio Perez35
12Lando Norris35
13Daniil Kvyat33
14Kimi Raikkonen31
15Kevin Magnussen20
16Lance Stroll19
17Romain Grosjean8
18Antonio Giovinazzi4
19Robert Kubica1
20George Russell0

Constructor’s Championship

POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
1Mercedes612
2Ferrari435
3Red Bull/Honda323
4McLaren/Renault111
5Renault75
6Toro Rosso/Honda59
7Racing Point/Mercedes54
8Alfa Romeo/Ferrari35
9Haas/Ferrari28
10Williams/Mercedes1
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The Captain

I feel like Ricciardo may have had the drive of the race, but you’d never know that since the director refused to show you a a non-Mercedes or Ferrari car the entire broadcast. There where so many passes that you only got to see on the timing graphic while you watched a Mercedes or Ferrari trod along with no one around them. Also what the bloody hell is going on with that tire graphic? I mean the FIA doesn’t have access to the teams tire data so it’s really just a made up number isn’t it. When Crofty said ‘well… Read more »

Fabio

A WTH for the timing people as well, finishing the race a lap early.