Lewis took victory at the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix to take his career wins to 41, matching that of Ayrton Senna, fourth in the list of all-time winners. Nico claimed second to secure an eighth Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season with his 37th career F1 podium finish. The drivers went into Turn One side-by-side and Lewis emerged from Turn Two in the lead while Nico dropped to P4 after he had to run wide on corner exit. Nico recovered strongly, stopping on laps 15 and 29, overtaking Bottas and running well on the prime tyre to undercut Vettel and regain two positions. Both drivers ran a two-stop strategy with Lewis running option/option/prime (stops on L16, L31) and Nico option/prime/prime (stops on L15, L29).
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: That was a great race for us and a great feeling to be back on the top steps of the podium - it feels a little bit like our first race win to me. It wasn't plain sailing at all for us today. First, there was the start - Lewis got away a little better than Nico, so they ran wheel to wheel through the first corners. That was pretty stressful to watch as they drifted out towards the edge of the track, with Nico forced to run up on the kerb, and Lewis complained about some understeer in Turn Two straight after that. That left Lewis to run the race we had planned, and he pulled good gaps on each stint to make the strategy work. With Nico, it was more tricky but we pulled two different strategic moves to move him up the order; first, we played the long game with Bottas, letting him stop early and then passing him on track with fresher tyres; then we were able to undercut Vettel on the second stop and claim second position. As for Lewis, he had some challenges out there, too, especially when he got a big tyre vibration in the second stint after locking up, and we had to pull him in for his final set of tyres. But we were able to manage the different issues today and get both cars home. Of course, this doesn't mean we can just write off Singapore and say that we are back to normal; we must stay on our toes, keep working and keep learning. But this was a good day for us, with great drives, quick pit-stops and a fantastic job from the whole team to bounce back conclusively from last weekend.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): It was great weather for the race today with the sun shining all day. Two great starts, Lewis getting away from the line slightly better and going into Turn One side-by-side, but it was good to see them both emerge from the other side in one piece. Nico unfortunately lost two positions in the battle, so we faced a difficult job to get him back to the front. During the race, there were a few issues to manage with engine temperatures and a flat spot on Lewis' second set of tyres, which was through to the canvas. As always, even when you're in a position with apparent control of the race, there are always risks and worries but it was great to get both cars home, which we haven't done since Belgium. Congratulations to Lewis and Nico for some great driving today and particularly Lewis for reaching a very significant marker in his Formula One career to match Ayrton Senna's total of 41 wins.
Christian Horner, Team Principal: "It was a frustrating afternoon for us from lap one onwards. Daniel made a great start, then found himself the cheese in a sandwich between Massa and Raikkonen, resulting in a puncture, which is the worst thing that can happen on the first lap. This cost him a huge amount of time. His recovery and pace was decent after the stop for fresh tyres but with no safety cars, catching up was a tough task. For Dany, it was a busy afternoon; we elected to go onto a three-stop strategy and he endured some brake issues throughout the race which caused a few lock ups and made the car quite difficult to drive, which comprised his pace throughout the race. It was a frustrating Japanese Grand Prix for the team and our first non-scoring race of the season. On another note, the boys in the garage did an incredible job on Dany's car overnight, with both sides of the garage working side-by-side to get the car ready for the race."
Matthieu Cubois, Renault: "That was a tough race to watch with both cars being virtually last after lap one with no real option to finish much higher than where we ended up, sadly out of the points. On the positive side we did not have any major problems, particularly on Daniil's car that had to be totally rebuilt from scratch overnight. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the team of mechanics who did an outstanding job there. On the plus side, both cars from our sister team managed to grab points, which is good. We are looking forward to Russia where hopefully we can make much better use of our recent uptrend in form."
Valtteri Bottas finished the Japanese Grand Prix in fifth place, whilst teammate Felipe Massa finished in 17th.
Valtteri was jumped by Vettel at the start but held on to third in the early stages after passing Rosberg on the first lap. Contact with Ricciardo at the start resulted in a front-right puncture for Felipe, with him needing to pit for new tyres and front wing on the first lap. Being a lap down after the stop made it difficult for Felipe to challenge for points today. Valtteri ultimately finished in a comfortable fifth after being passed by Raikkonen at the final round of pitstops collecting an important ten points for the team to extend the gap to Red Bull Racing in the Constructors' Championship to 69 points.
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: It was a tough race for the team today. Unfortunately I don't think we showed the pace we were hoping for. Felipe had a bad start which was further compounded when he received a puncture following a collision with Ricciardo. He then had to complete a whole lap on three tyres which put him down by a lap and effectively ended his chances of a competitive race. Valtteri had a good position at the start and was driving very well. Our call on the first stop was the right one and kept us in front of Rosberg, but our second stop was too late and so we lost the position to Raikkonen. We have further solidified our third place in the Championship but leave Suzuka with the knowledge that we could have achieved more.
Maurizio Arrivabene: "You're never completely happy when you don't win the race, but I think this result should not be compared with what we had achieved in Singapore one week ago. We'd rather compare this track to Silverstone, because it has similar characteristics. And if we look back at the British Grand Prix, at the gap that we had there to our main rivals, we can see that today we have been closer. And this means that there has been a major development in all areas, starting from our power unit. As for the strategy, we were in doubt as to shortcut the Mercedes or pit after them; but there were not many data available from practice, due to the rain on Friday, so making certain choices would have meant a huge risk for the life of the tires."
The 2015 Japanese Grand Prix was a disappointing home race for the McLaren-Honda team.
Despite starting from 12th (Fernando Alonso) and 14th (Jenson Button) on the grid, and taking advantage of a couple of first-lap incidents to nick a few extra places, neither driver was able to hold back the stream of faster cars behind them.
Fernando battled gamely against the Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, and was able to establish an advantage over the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, to finish 11th.
Jenson was unlucky to fall behind the Swede's Sauber after the second round of pit-stops. That meant he fell into the clutches of a gaggle of faster cars. He ended his afternoon 16th.
Eric Boullier, Racing director: "It's not always easy to perceive progress when your overall performance is poorer than two great Formula 1 brands such as McLaren and Honda are used to, and of course none of us is pleased with our 11th and 16th places here this afternoon, but nonetheless there are positives.
"Both cars ran completely reliably to the finish, which is encouraging. No, our friends at Honda didn't get to watch the cars on which they've worked so hard score points in their home race today, but both Fernando and Jenson finished it and it's via such incremental stepping stones that we'll march together to our eventual destination: podiums and victories.
"Finally, I want to pay tribute to our guys, especially the boys in the garage who have worked so incredibly hard, in such hot and humid conditions, over two very arduous back-to-back weekends, here and last weekend in Singapore. Well done!"
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport: "We received an unbelievable amount of cheers from our fans at the start of the race. As predicted, both our drivers made brilliant starts which put them close to the points-paying positions, but we knew coming into the race that energy management would be tough at this track.
"Disappointingly, we missed out on 10th position, and the final point on offer today.
"Through rain and sunshine, our fans gave us the support we needed throughout the three days of the grand prix weekend. We hope that we'll be able to give back to them soon, by fighting every step of the way to improve in the remaining races of the season and development for next year.
"I cannot say thank you enough for everyone's support."
Sahara Force India scored eight points in todayís Japanese Grand Prix with Nico Hulkenberg finishing in sixth place. Sergio Perez suffered a puncture on the opening lap, which cost the Mexican the chance of scoring points.
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "We leave Suzuka with the confidence of having a very strong car but also the feeling of disappointment for not getting both cars in the points. Nico drove a tactically brilliant race: he made another great start to regain the ground he had lost through his grid penalty and then had a fairly lonely race. He executed our strategy perfectly, leapfrogging the two Lotuses during the first pit stop window, and from then on he worked hard to continuously increase his gap. Sixth was the maximum he could have got today and itís just the result Nico needed after a difficult run of races. Unfortunately, Sergio could do nothing to escape the incident at turn one: he moved to the right to avoid Massa, who was driving slowly, and he was hit by Sainz. Sergio avoided hitting the wall, but his race was heavily compromised by the puncture. He performed a solid comeback and showed very good pace, but the points were just out of reach. Even though we conceded two points in the battle for fifth place, we take encouragement from having such a well-executed race with Nico and the pace of the car."
Franz Tost (Team Principal): "Taking into consideration that we started today's race in tenth and seventeenth position, to finish with both cars in the points is quite a success for the team. We knew that Suzuka was going to be a tricky circuit for us, as it requires very high top speeds, therefore I must say that we've achieved the best possible result for us here. Both drivers did a fantastic job, especially Carlos in the first stint, when he overtook a couple of cars, showing a really good performance. For Max to go from P17 to P9 demonstrates how strong his race was. From a strategy point of view, I think we made the most out of it. In the end, It was a good race for us, finishing with both cars in the points for the second time in a row - the cars are reliable! We are now looking forward to Sochi, where I expect to be more competitive than here in Suzuka."
Cedrik Staudohar (Renault Sport F1 track support leader): "It was in the end a good race for us. On Max's car in particular it was a good recovery after yesterday's electrical issue. For the second race in a row both cars have finished the race in the points so we can be happy with the reliability and performance. Let's keep pushing like this."
Lotus F1 Team completed a strong Japanese Grand Prix with both cars finishing in the top eight for the first time since the Indian Grand Prix in 2013. Romain took seventh, with Pastor finishing just 1.3 seconds behind him in eighth.
Romain started from P8 on the grid on his qualifying medium compound tyres. He changed to scrubbed mediums on lap 11 and new hards on lap 33. Pastor started from P11 on new medium tyres, changing to new mediums on lap 12, and new hards on lap 36.
Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal: "It's a great result for all of the team after a reasonably challenging weekend. It just goes to show that you can never discount an Enstone team no matter what the circumstances. We have to say thank you to all the crew at the track for working through a slightly unusual situation as well as thank you to Bernie for his help behind the scenes. We're looking forward to continuing to fight back in Sochi."
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: "It's great to get both cars solidly in the points and score more than our immediate championship rivals Force India and Toro Rosso. Force India looked stronger than us in the race and we didn't have the pace to match Hulkenberg today. It was nevertheless a good performance from both drivers and the entire team."
After a difficult qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix with starting positions at the back of the field, the Sauber F1 Team finished the race in 14th (Ericsson) and 20th (Nasr). Marcus Ericsson made a mistake, which cost him some positions. His teammate, Felipe Nasr, had to retire at the very end of the race due to an unidentified problem at the Sauber C34-Ferrari, which needs to be investigated.
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "A disappointing weekend from which generally we expected more. After qualifying, we knew it would be difficult starting from these positions. Marcus and Felipe both had good starts, and there was a chance we could have finished the race in the points. Unfortunately it did not happen. Felipe's car had an unidentified problem, which needs to be investigated. Marcus spun, which cost him some positions, but he kept on fighting."
The Manor Marussia F1 Team notched up its tenth two-car finish of the season today in the 2015 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. On a relatively attrition-free day, in which all 20 cars were classified, Alexander Rossi ended the 53 lap race in 18th position, ahead of his team-mate Will Stevens in 19th place, and in a reversal of their starting positions.
It was not an entirely straightforward race for the team. Will was having to push hard to keep the advancing American behind and at his second pit stop was found to have exceeded the pit lane speed limit. A short time later, on lap 42, he spun in dramatic fashion, then pulled off an impressive save, but he ended up at a 180 degree angle across the track. Alex was only tenths of a second in his wake but took equally impressive evasive action, narrowly avoiding a collision. Will was forced to pit for a third time, as the spin had destroyed his tyres, and the team took this opportunity to serve his 5-second time penalty. The combination of events handed Alex the advantage for a second successive race.
John Booth, Team Principal: "Today's race was progressing in a fairly straightforward fashion for us, largely defined by a continuation of the developing intra-team battle between Will and Alex that has kept us very much on the edge of our seats over the last two races. In the closing stages, we experienced a brief heart-stopping moment when Will lost the back of the car at 130R and spun into the path of his team-mate. Credit to them both for their impressive reactions; Will did well to collect the car without leaving the asphalt, while Alex's lightning response ensured there was no contact. There were sharp intakes of breath all round up on the pit wall, but all's well that ends well and we are pleased to achieve our tenth two-car finish of the season. A good job all round today, and indeed all weekend, after an emotional return to Suzuka for our team."
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has won the Japanese Grand Prix with a medium-medium-hard tyre strategy from second on the grid. The Englishman gained the lead at the start and then built up a sufficient advantage that he was able to rejoin the race without losing command after both pit stops. He has now matched the benchmark of Ayrton Senna, with 41 wins, while Mercedes registered its eighth one-two finish of the season.
The three drivers behind Hamilton used a different two-stop strategy: medium-hard-hard. Throughout the top 10, there were a number of different strategies designed to help give drivers a tactical advantage, aided by the timing of the pit stops. Nico Rosberg, in particular, used the 'undercut' to pit earlier than his direct rivals and move up to second place, having dropped to fourth after the start. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari: only Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel can now theoretically win the championship this year.
The majority of competitors stopped twice in Japan, with just Sergio Perez (Force India), Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull), Felipe Massa (Williams) and Will Stevens (Manor) stopping three times. Perez, Massa and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo all picked up punctures as a result of Turn 1 incidents, which forced them all into first-lap pit stops. Following Carlos Sainz's broken front wing after a collision, some debris left on the track caused a number of cuts to the tyres, without consequence.
Track temperatures, which peaked at 42 degrees, were the warmest they had been all weekend in Suzuka, adding a further complication to the strategy. The teams headed into the Japanese Grand Prix lacking dry weather data, as the two free practice sessions on Friday were dominated by rain.
All the drivers started on the medium tyre, apart from McLaren's Jenson Button, who started on the hard compound.
Paul Hembery: "There was a strong and consistent performance from both our nominated tyres from start to finish of the Japanese Grand Prix, despite the highest track temperatures we have seen all weekend, as well as the high energy loads and abrasive surface that Suzuka is famous for. We saw a wide variety of strategies in place throughout the race and different thinking on the best way to use the tyres, with the timing of the pit stops turning out to be crucial. With the rain on Friday, the teams did not have their usual amount of data heading into the weekend, which made the way that they were able to read the race and get the best out of the tyres all the more impressive."
We predicted a two-stopper as being the best option for this 53-lap race, starting on the medium, changing to the medium again on laps 16-18 and finally the hard on lap 33-35. Hamilton followed our prediction almost exactly, stopping on laps 16 and 32.