2014 JAPANESE GP: HAMILTON WINS, BIANCHI SUFFERS SERIOUS HEAD INJURES

Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead over Nico Rosberg to 10 points with victory in a rain-lashed, shortened Japanese Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg finished second, with Sebastian Vettel third. The race was marred by a heavy accident involving Marussia’s Jules Bianchi.

With heavy rain falling before the start, the race began under the safety car but was quickly halted as conditions became undriveable. The cars were guided to pit lane where the field awaited a restart.

That came after a 20-minute delay, with the cars again taking to the track behind the safety car. It was during this period that fifth-on-the-grid Fernando Alonso’s race came to an end. The Ferrari driver had a sudden power loss due to electrical problems and he was forced to pull over and quit the race.


With the rain abating, drivers began to radio through that the track was almost good enough to swap from the starting wet tyres mandated by officials because of the conditions to intermediate rubber.


The safety car left the circuit after nine laps and by lap 11 the field began to dive towards pit lane for intermediate tyres. First in was McLaren’s Jenson Button and his quick thinking allowed him to leap up the order. After the stops had played out, Rosberg led with a two-second advantage over Hamilton, with Button now third, having started from eighth on the grid.


Behind him were the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa but with the FW36 looking ungainly in the wet, they were being quickly chased down by the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth and seventh respectively.


Vettel passed Massa for fifth on lap 16 with a deft move at the hairpin and then repeated the move on Bottas two laps later. Ricciardo wasn’t about to be left out and made his own perhaps bolder move, passing the Williams with moves around the outside through the ‘esses’ on laps 17 and 19.


Ahead, Rosberg was complaining of severe issues with oversteer and when DRS was enabled in the improving conditions on lap 25 it was the cue for Hamilton to make a sustained assault on Rosberg’s lead. The championship leader eventually swept past his team-mate into Turn One on lap 29 under DRS. He immediately began to pull out a gap and it was clear that the battle for the lead was over.


Behind them Vettel made an early second stop, looking to undercut third-placed Button. McLaren responded and brought the Briton in. However a a change of steering wheel saw Button stationary for too long and Vettel and Ricciardo swept by to relegate the McLaren man to fifth.


Ricciardo ran a longer second stint, but it seemed to provide little advantage and when he eventually made his second stop he was passed by Button. However, he quickly used his pace advantage to close on the Englishman.


The McLaren driver defended bravely for several laps and that allowed Vettel ahead to pull out a decent gap, which surely frustrated Riccirado.
The Australian eventually moved past Button on lap 44 but by that time Vettel was five seconds up the road and it seemed the four-time Japanese Grand Prix winner had done enough to take third place.


On the previous lap, Adrian Sutil had gone off track at Turn Seven and a recovery vehicle went to the scene to remove his stranded Sauber. A lap later, however, Bianchi went off at the same location and appeared to collide with the recovery vehicle. The safety car was dispatched, along with the medical car.


Vettel pitted under the safety car for new intermediate tyres and rejoined behind Ricciardo. However with an ambulance also now on track the race was red-flagged on lap 47 of the allotted 53 and the cars guided back to pit lane. It was soon announced that there would be no resumption.


With the result counted back to the end of the penultimate lap before the red flag was shown (thus, to lap 44) the order saw Hamilton take his eighth win of the season ahead of Rosberg, with Vettel third. Fourth place went to Ricciardo, with Button fifth ahead of Bottas, Massa, Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne, who put in an excellent drive to rise from 20th to ninth. The final point was taken by Force India’s Sergio Perez.


Bianchi was quickly taken to hospital by ambulance. An update on his condition is expected shortly.


 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, SUZUKA
53 laps, 308.965km., Weather: Rain/Wet.
CLASSIFIED:
 P.    DRIVER             TEAM             TIME   
 1. Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes AMG   1h51:03.021 
 2. Nico Rosberg       Mercedes AMG    +    9.180
 3. Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull        +   29.122
 4. Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull        +   38.818
 5. Jenson Button      McLaren         + 1:07.550
 6. Valtteri Bottas    Williams        + 1:53.773
 7. Felipe Massa       Williams        + 1:55.126
 8. Nico Hulkenberg    Force India     + 1:55.948
 9. Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso      + 2:07.638
10. Sergio Perez       Force India     +    1 lap
11. Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso      +    1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari         +    1 lap
13. Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber          +    1 lap
14. Kevin Magnussen    McLaren         +    1 lap
15. Romain Grosjean    Lotus           +    1 lap
16. Pastor Maldonado   Lotus           +    1 lap
17. Marcus Ericsson    Caterham        +    1 lap
18. Max Chilton        Marussia        +    1 lap
19. Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham        +    1 lap
20. Jules Bianchi      Marussia        +   3 laps
21. Adrian Sutil       Sauber          +   4 laps

FASTEST LAP: Lewis Hamilton - 1:51.600            

NOT CLASSIFIED:
Fernando Alonso      Ferrari           29


After 15 races:
Drivers:                    Constructors:         
 1. Lewis Hamilton    266   1. Mercedes AMG  522
 2. Nico Rosberg      256   2. Red Bull      332
 3. Daniel Ricciardo  193   3. Williams      201
 4. Sebastian Vettel  139   4. Ferrari       178
 5. Fernando Alonso   133   5. Force India   122
 6. Valtteri Bottas   130   6. McLaren       121
 7. Jenson Button      82   7. Toro Rosso     29
 8. Nico Hulkenberg    76   8. Lotus           8
 9. Felipe Massa       71   9. Marussia        2
10. Sergio Perez       46
11. Kimi Räikkönen     45
12. Kevin Magnussen    39
13. Jean-Eric Vergne   21
14. Romain Grosjean     8
15. Daniil Kvyat        8
16. Jules Bianchi       2