Nico Rosberg finished off a very productive weekend in Suzuka by winning the Japanese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton overcame a disastrous start to help Mercedes clinch the constructor's championship.
After securing pole position on Saturday, Rosberg cruised to victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, his ninth win of the season. He has now surpassed the 300-point mark this season and sits 33 points ahead of Mercedes teammate Hamilton with four races remaining.
Max Verstappen was able to hold off a late push from Hamilton on the penultimate lap to claim second place, his sixth podium appearance of the season. Mercedes initially lodged a protest against Verstappen for driving in a "dangerous manner" but withdrew it just hours later. Even so, Hamilton's third place finish was enough for Mercedes to clinch their third constructors' championship.
"What an awesome weekend," said Rosberg after the race. "It's beautiful to win here and congratulations to my colleagues and the team for clinching the constructors' championship."
"It's 33 points, but I'm not focused on that," Rosberg added. "There's still a long way to go so I'm just keeping my head down."
A week after he had toretire in Malaysia because of engine failure, Hamilton got off to a terrible start, losing six positions to drop from second on grid to eighth. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had to weave around the British driver at the start as he struggled to get going. Hamilton apologized via the team radio by simply saying "sorry guys".
But Hamilton quickly fought his way back up the field and was in fourth place by lap 16. He came within a half a second of Verstappen towards the end of the race, but lost his momentum with two laps to go. The third-place finish means Hamilton conceded another 10 points to Rosberg in the Formula 1 championship.
"I did the best I could with where I was in the race," Hamilton said.
Silver arrow dominance continues
Mercedes have now won the last three constructors' championships in Formula 1. They have also dominated the podium, having won 47 of the 55 grands prix since 2014.
"It feels great," said Mercedes motorsport executive director Toto Wolff. "After the drama in Malaysia where we tried really hard to do it, it feels very special. Doing a third time in a row, it is very special also."
Rosberg will be looking to extend his lead on October 23 at the United States Grand Prix.
dv/mp (dpa, AFP)