The fast-flowing nature of the Suzuka Circuit makes it a favourite among the drivers, with packed grandstands only adding to the appeal of the venue.
In today’s race, Lewis Hamilton led the proceedings to extend his lead in the drivers standings to 48 points. Nico Hulkenberg was particularly impressive in the Force India, building up on a quick start to finish sixth. Max Verstappen also deserves a heap of praise for some fine race craft that granted him a top 10 finish.
Lewis Hamilton muscled his way past pole sitter Nico Rosberg at the start to seize the lead of the race. Once at front, it’s always an uphill task to catch Hamilton. And as it turned out, none of his rivals could mount a challenge, with Hamilton winning the race with a comfortable 19 seconds margin.
The Brit is now tied with Ayrton Senna in the all time list of grand prix winners, although it took him one more race to equal that feat.
After the highs of Le Mans and the aftermath, Nico Hulkenberg endured a string of patchy races between Hungary and Singapore. With three retirements and just a single points finish - at Monza where he was beaten by teammate Sergio Perez - things certainly weren’t going the German’s way.
However, Hulkenberg was back to his very best in Suzuka today, finishing sixth for Force India. A good start propelled the German to eighth by lap 2, just behind the two Lotus drivers. The 28 year old later undercut his rivals in the first round of pitstops, emerging in sixth place.
He then lapped comfortably quicker than the black and golden cars, but didn’t have a shot at overtaking the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, who finished 20 seconds up the road in fifth position.
Unfazed by a penalty that dropped him to 17th on the grid, Max Verstappen executed his typical, bold manoeuvres en route to his sixth points scoring result of the season.
The Dutchman was up into 14th place by the end of lap 1 and was the first to trigger the pitstops on lap 9. The 17 year old crucially put on the prime tyre during the middle stint, which meant he was quicker during the latter part of the race.
On lap 43, he passed Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr in the DRS zone to finish in 9th place - an impressive result given his starting position.
Rosberg felt he was forced to take avoiding action when Hamilton got a better start off the line and the duo raced side-by-side in the opening sequence of corners.
Had he only fallen down to second place, it would have been a different story. But having two cars between him and his rivals meant that the race win was out of question even before the end of lap 1.
Nonetheless, Rosberg showed improved race craft - something he has been evidently working on - overtaking Bottas just before the final chicane. He then passed Vettel in the pits, with quick in- and out-laps playing a major role in him leapfrogging the four-time world champion.
While not quite as impressive as he was in Singapore last week, Sebastian Vettel, nonetheless, made the most out of the car to spring another podium finish at Suzuka.
Vettel passed Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap but had no answer to Lewis Hamilton’s pace, who sprinted ahead in his Mercedes. In the second round of pitstops, Vettel got undercut by Nico Rosberg in the sister Mercedes, although the German felt the gap that he had built was big enough to avoid being overtaken in such a manner.
by Rachit Thukral