Race Report: Hamilton equals Senna in Japanese GP

Normal service was restored at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday as Mercedes, having scored their 10th front row lockout to start the race, finished one, two with Lewis Hamilton taking victory and equaling his childhood hero, Ayrton Senna, with 41 wins.

Lewis started behind teammate Nico Rosberg but managed to muscle him at turn two forcing the German wide and taking the lead. He never looked back having run a perfect race managing gaps, tires and fuel. Hamilton looked like the champ he is and offered a clinical performance on how to take command of a race and manage its outcome.


A big win for Mercedes who had some fans concerned after their lackluster Singapore Grand Prix. The team bounced back on this 3.6 mile power circuit and even Nico Rosberg managed to undercut the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel to secure second. Nico had some engine heating issues early but later drove an impeccable race with a nice pass at the Casio chicane on Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas.

A win also for Lotus F1 teammates, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, who stayed out of trouble and amidst serious and comprehensive financial struggles, managed to finish 7th and 8th respectively in a much-needed result.

A win for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who started the race with a 3-place grid penalty and managed to offer a recovery drive all the way up to 6th on a day when his teammate Sergio Perez, who was hit on the first lap and struggled to recover, finished outside the points.

Equallya win for Max Verstappen who started toward the back of the grid and sliced his way up through the traffic to finish ahead of his teammate, Carlos Sainz, and gave the team a double-points finish in 9th and 10th respectively. I’ve said it before but that STR chassis is a damn nice car.

A win for American Alexander Rossi who beat his teammate for the second race in a row at Manor and perhaps you could call Fernando Alonso’s 11th place finish a slight win for the team even though the two-time champ called the engine a GP2 engine. Ouch.

Japanese fans…enough said.


Red Bull comes to mind having both cars finish outside the points for the first time in more than 30 races. A bad weekend that started so promising on Friday. In fact, the team looked to have the measure of Ferrari up until Q2 and things only went downhill from there. If anything, you could say that Daniil Kvyat’s recovery drive from dead last was a hell of a drive and he struggled with multiple issues as the car was completely built from scratch after he killed the main chassis during Q3 in qualifying.

Williams F1 missed the boat with the some put stops and Bottas missing the podium and finish 5th.

Will Stevens had a bad race and spun at 130R right in front his teammate Alexander Rossi which was a scary moment.

Ultimately if you are trying to win the championship, you have to convert your pole position to wins and Nico Rosberg allowed himself to be muscled out on turn two by Hamilton thus losing critical points in the title bid.

Japanese podium microphone system experiencing intermod or something. It was the pants Kai was wearing I think.


Massa getting involved in a dustup with Daniel Ricciardo at the start and cutting his and Daniel’s tires down. Both spent the rest of the race trying to make a recovery drive into the points and couldn’t make it happen.

So what is going on with Nico’s new engine? Lewis has been enjoying his since Monza, when Nico’s got contaminated by coolant, and they chose not to run it in Singapore. Now he runs it in Japan and by lap 8, the team were telling him to slow down, the engine was overheating.

NBC Sports seems intent on taking valuable F1 broadcast time by posting NASCAR schedules and then running down the points for the top 20 drivers…please stop it.

So, Fernando says the Honda is like a GP2 engine…while driving it…at Japan. Ouch.

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes531h 28:06.508
2Nico RosbergMercedes5318.964
3Sebastian VettelFerrari5320.850
4Kimi RäikkönenFerrari5333.768
5Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes5336.746
6Nico HülkenbergForce India/Mercedes5355.559
7Romain GrosjeanLotus/Mercedes531:12.298
8Pastor MaldonadoLotus/Mercedes531:13.575
9Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Renault531:35.315
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault521 Lap
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda521 Lap
12Sergio PérezForce India/Mercedes521 Lap
13Daniil KvyatRed Bull/Renault521 Lap
14Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari521 Lap
15Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault521 Lap
16Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda521 Lap
17Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes512 Laps
18Alexander RossiMarussia/Ferrari512 Laps
19Will StevensMarussia/Ferrari503 Laps
20Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari49Not running



1Lewis Hamilton277
2Nico Rosberg229
3Sebastian Vettel218
4Kimi Räikkönen119
5Valtteri Bottas111
6Felipe Massa97
7Daniel Ricciardo73
8Daniil Kvyat66
9Romain Grosjean44
10Sergio Pérez39
11Nico Hülkenberg38
12Max Verstappen32
13Felipe Nasr17
14Pastor Maldonado16
15Carlos Sainz12
16Fernando Alonso11
17Marcus Ericsson9
18Jenson Button6
19Roberto Merhi0
20Will Stevens0
21Alexander Rossi0
Overall Race
race-report-hamilton-equals-senna-in-japanese-gpA straightforward race in dry weather with a return to Mercedes dominance even though the tires were bloated with PSI. Compared to last year, a slightly uneventful race is a breath of fresh air for a Japanese Grand Prix.
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Both Button and Verstappen compared the dual pass of the Sauber and Toro Rosso on the McLaren to the Schumacher Hakkinen pass on Zonta at Spa in 1999. While it was only a year before Jenson joined F1, it was only a couple of years after Max was born. For a young man he’s has some good knowledge of the history of the sport.


Button and Verstappen comparing the dual pass that was made yesterday by Nasr and Max on Button, with that of Hakkinen and Schumacher’s pass on Zonta at Spa in 2000 is somewhat similar, but not the same or exciting.


Peter Aletras

Nico started the race with a headache and a sore neck and was again plagued with technical issues, meanwhile Lewis just charges on. One could get the impression the excuses are now being “baked in”.
Is Nico the best number 2 driver on the grid?

peter riva

The key issue here is the word “team” which clearly does not apply to Hamilton – ever. It is NOT in his vocabulary. Wasn’t at McLaren, certainly not at MB. And that’s why Nikki Lauda loves him. It is all about ego and “me, me, me.”

As long as he has the best car, he’ll be great. But imagine if he was in a team that needed joint points.


Name just one, just one top rated driver that doesn’t try and get the team behind him, and the best example of that is Fernando Alonso.. I’ll bet anything that you have never made that type of criticism towards him, but Lewis…..well Lewis just makes some peoples blood boil, especially with him being so damn good.

Negative Camber

Did Seb and his time a RBR make you mad? Did we parse actions over Multi-21? Did it upset you when he said he isn’t there to play wet nurse to Webber? It didn’t for me and it doesn’t when Hamilton does it and it doesn’t when Max tells STR to get bent when they tell him to let Carlos past.


Not at all.

Peter Aletras

Drivers trying to win is why we watch F1. Seeing drivers, either voluntarily giving up places……or being fed reasons why they can’t compete makes babies cry.

charlie white

Memo to NC: either stop watching NBCSN and catch the SkyTV broadcasts on the intertubes or learn Spanish and watch the race commercial free on Univision. NBCSN’s promotion of NASCAR and ill-timed commercial breaks will never stop.

peter riva

Really? It is on Univision??? – did NOT know that. Dumping NBC instantly.

Junipero Mariano

Although I haven’t tried it yet, couldn’t you watch the Univision coverage on mute, and listen to the BBC commentary on the F1 app?

Well, that is if the F1 app decides to work that day. When I turned it on, it was covering last year’s race. Weird.

Negative Camber

You’ll need to email me a link to Sky because every site I tired had this “you have to register” BS and then a bunch of sex ads. If there is a feed I can get in HD, I am on it.


Did anyone else notice how the NBC broadcast seemed to have the audio levels way out of whack? There were times where I couldn’t hear the commentary over the engines.

Any ways a forgettable race. The highlight was Alonso trashing the Honda engine at the Honda track in Japan. Not exactly a way to make friends, or maybe a deliberate shot across the bow.

peter riva

My guess is you never sleep. Great report.

Negative Camber

I sleep very rarely. :)


I watch the Univision feed on mute and listen to BBC Radio for commentary.


On Android tablet: UK VPN connected -> download/sideload BBC iPlayer beta -> connect device to HDMI -> Win!


Did you know Max Verstappen is only 17????

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

Be careful of giving feedback the NBSCN commentators about Max’s age. You may get blocked on Twitter. I do a simple retweet and copy FBC and then BOOM, blocked. I never said anything negative, just saying he isn’t taking the feedback well. Which Diffey proved my point brilliantly.