Rosberg takes commanding win in Brazil

Nico Rosberg achieved his second successive Formula 1 victory with a commanding drive at Interlagos.

The pole sitter came across his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the approach to the Senna S on the opening lap. Nico defended his track position and from there, controlled the pace and record win number 13.

Newly-crowned champion Hamilton asked his team if it could adapt his race strategy to give him an opportunity to beat Rosberg, but in the end, Lewis had to follow his team-mate on a three-stop and crossed the finishing line 7.7 seconds adrift.

During the second stint, the Silver Arrows ran very close but Hamilton dropped away due to heavy tyre wear.

Rosberg’s fifth victory of the season secured second in the drivers’ championship as his main rival Sebastian Vettel could only finish third for Ferrari.

The Brazilian Grand Prix was quite processional with some added action in the midfield. The small threat of rain in the closing stages never materialising and Rosberg lapping everyone up to fourth position.

Ferrari was unable to challenge Mercedes. Vettel tried something different by running a second stint on the softs as most chose mediums but could not get closer and finished comfortably clear of two-stopping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in third.

Valtteri Bottas made a brilliant start from his penalised seventh on the grid to squeeze past Daniil Kvyat and Nico Hulkenberg for fifth.

But that was as good as it got for the Williams driver, who stayed in that position for the remainder of the race and ensured his Williams team clinched third in the constructors’ championship.

Hulkenberg took the flag in sixth place, ahead of Kvyat and Felipe Massa, whose Williams team was summoned to the stewards after the race in relation to a tyre pressure and temperature discrepancy on the grid.

Romain Grosjean was ninth ahead of Max Verstappen, who made a series of passes in the final stint after choosing to run the soft.

It was Verstappen’s sixth successive points-scoring finish, which is record run for a Toro Rosso driver.

His bold passes at Senna S was the highlight of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Max’s move on Sergio Perez was spectacular.

It was a complete contrast day for Carlos Sainz Jr, who had a problem on the grid and had to start from the pitlane before retiring on the opening lap.

Pastor Maldonado, who ended up P11, collided with Marcus Ericsson at the Senna S, tipping the Sauber into a spin and incurring a five-second penalty.

Daniel Ricciardo, running the updated Renault engine, was P12, ahead of Felipe Nasr and the McLaren duo Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Ericsson, who lost five positions on the first lap when he ran wide at the Descida do Lago, continued after the contact with Maldonado but lost too much ground and finished P17.

The Manor-run Marussias of Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, who will be replaced by Roberto Merhi for the final race in Abu Dhabi, completed the finishers in P18 and P19 respectively.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h31m09.090s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    7.756s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    14.244s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    47.543s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
7    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1 Lap
10    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
11    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
12    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1 Lap
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
14    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
16    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    2 Laps
18    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    4 Laps
19    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    4 Laps
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement

Drivers’ championship:

1    Lewis Hamilton    363
2    Nico Rosberg    297
3    Sebastian Vettel    266
4    Valtteri Bottas    136
5    Kimi Raikkonen    135
6    Felipe Massa    121
7    Daniil Kvyat    94
8    Daniel Ricciardo    84
9    Sergio Perez    68
10    Nico Hulkenberg    52
11    Max Verstappen    48
12    Romain Grosjean    47
13    Felipe Nasr    27
14    Pastor Maldonado    26
15    Carlos Sainz    18
16    Jenson Button    16
17    Fernando Alonso    11
18    Marcus Ericsson    9
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Alexander Rossi    0
21    Will Stevens    0

Constructors’ championship:

1    Mercedes    660
2    Ferrari    401
3    Williams-Mercedes    257
4    Red Bull-Renault    178
5    Force India-Mercedes    120
6    Lotus-Mercedes    73
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    66
8    Sauber-Ferrari    36
9    McLaren-Honda    27
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina. November 27-29.

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Rosberg scores fifth consecutive pole in Brazil

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is on form on Saturday afternoon with a fifth consecutive pole position, beating his team-mate Lewis Hamilton at Interlagos.

Rosberg was quicker than Hamilton throughout the important final part of the qualifying, eventually earning the 21st P1 of his Formula 1 career by just 0.078 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari was third fastest, half a second adrift from the top spot, while the Williams of Valtteri Bottas split Vettel from Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by finding slightly more time on his second run than his fellow countryman.

However, Bottas will take a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under red flags during Friday’s second practice session.

Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top six in his Force India, narrowly quicker than Daniil Kvyat in the best of the Red Bulls.

Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo (running the updated Renault power unit) and Max Verstappen completed the top ten.

Massa and Verstappen hauled themselves into the Q3 shootout with late improvements in Q2, which meant Felipe Nasr’s lap for Sauber was only good enough for P11 on the timesheet.

Carlos Sainz complained of problems with the dashboard and data in his Toro Rosso as he ended up only P12, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez, who was a massive 0.662 seconds slower than team-mate Hulkenberg in Q2.

Marcus Ericsson was P14 in the Sauber, followed by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, who spun at Ferradura on his crucial lap and then had insufficient tyre life left to get anywhere near making the top ten on his next effort.

The Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and Jenson Button’s McLaren were next, narrowly missing out on making the Q2 cut in a tight battle during the first part of qualifying.

Maldonado was just 0.039 seconds slower than Ericsson’s Sauber in placing P16, while Button reckoned McLaren went “a little bit too far with the front wing” as he ended up P17, just 0.040 seconds further back.

Team-mate Fernando Alonso failed to set a time after his McLaren-Honda broke down with “no power” early on in the session.

The double world champion was therefore classified last, behind the Manor Marussias of Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens, who were separated by just over a tenth of a second.

Qualifying positions, Brazilian Grand Prix:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m11.282s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m11.360s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m11.804s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m12.144s
5    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.265s
6    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m12.322s
7    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.085s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.415s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m12.739s
10    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m12.989s
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m13.045s
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m13.147s
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m13.233s
14    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m13.913s
15    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m13.385s
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m13.425s
17    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m16.151s
18    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m16.283s
19    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m12.417s
20    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    No time

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Rosberg victorious at Mexico

Nico Rosberg answered his critics with a dominant victory at the Mexican Grand Prix, leading home his team-mate and new champion Lewis Hamilton.

The pole-sitter resisted the challenge from Hamilton at the start and controlled the race throughout, despite a late safety car period which cancelled out Rosberg’s lead to record his fourth win of the season and 12th of his Formula 1 career.

As for new 2005 world champion Hamilton crossed the finishing line second for his 15th podium in 17 races this season with Valtteri Bottas completing the top three.

Such was the pace of the Silver Arrows that they were able to pit for a second time before the safety car came out and still rejoin in front of the rest of the field.

Hamilton questioned the team’s decision to bring him in, as he felt his tyres were in good shape, but Mercedes insisted he had to pit for safety reasons, and he eventually relented.

The result means Rosberg reclaims second in the drivers’ standings after Sebastian Vettel crashed out.

This was a nightmare race for Sebastian Vettel. He started third but collided with his ex-Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the first corner and picked up a puncture.

The four-time champion complained about Ricciardo’s driving on team radio but though the stewards investigated the incident, they deemed no further action was necessary.

Vettel recovered to the pits but he had a messy Mexican Grand Prix, spinning at the esses and then crashing out of the race at the same spot when the rear end of the car got away from him – bringing out the safety car.

There was more drama for the Scuderia when Kimi Raikkonen collided with Valtteri Bottas for the second time in three races following their last-lap clash in Sochi.

The Finns went side-by-side into Turn 4 with the Williams front-left hitting Raikkonen’s right-rear and breaking the Ferrari’s suspension.

Raikkonen retired instantly, signalling Ferrari’s first double retirement since the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat finished fourth, after losing a place to Bottas on the restart, while Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa completed the top six.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, one position ahead of home favourite Sergio Perez, who received rapturous cheers throughout the race and was the only driver who managed to only make one pit-stop.

Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.

Pastor Maldonado missed out on his fourth consecutive points finish in P11, with Marcus Ericsson, Carlos Sainz Jr, Jenson Button, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens the other finishers.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso suffered a lack of power just after the start and was told by the team to retire the car at the end of the opening lap.

Shortly before the restart Button radioed his team to say the brakes on Felipe Nasr’s car were on fire and shortly after, the Sauber retired in the 55,000-seater stadium section, reporting his brakes were “finished”.

Mexican Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1:42:35.038
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    +1.954s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    +14.592s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    +16.572s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault     +19.682s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes     +21.493s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    +25.860s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes     +34.343s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault     +35.229s
10    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes     +37.934s
11    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes     +38.538s
12    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari     +40.180s
13    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault     +48.772s
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda      +49.214s
15    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari     +2 laps
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari     +2 laps
–    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari     DNF
–    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari      DNF
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari     DNF
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    DNF

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 345
1 Nico Rosberg 272
3 Sebastian Vettel 251
4 Valtteri Bottas 126
5 Kimi Raikkonen 123
6 Felipe Massa 117
7 Daniil Kvyat 88
8 Daniel Ricciardo 84
9 Sergio Perez 68
10 Max Verstappen 47
11 Romain Grosjean 45
12 Nico Hulkenberg 44
13 Felipe Nasr 27
14 Pastor Maldonado 26
15 Carlos Sainz 18
16 Jenson Button 16
17 Fernando Alonso 11
18 Marcus Ericsson 9
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Alexander Rossi 0
21 Will Stevens 0
22 Kevin Magnussen 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 617
2 Ferrari 374
3 Williams-Mercedes 243
4 Red Bull-Renault 172
5 Force India-Mercedes 112
6 Lotus-Mercedes 71
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 65
8 Sauber-Ferrari 36
9 McLaren-Honda 27
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November 13-15.

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Rosberg strikes back with Mexican Grand Prix pole

A week on following the championship battle at Austin, Nico Rosberg strikes back with a strong performance in the Mexican Grand Prix to claim pole.

The Mercedes driver achieved his fourth successive pole, beating the new champion Lewis Hamilton by 0.188 seconds.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was 0.370 seconds adrift of Rosberg in third, claiming over team radio he “tried everything” to take the fight to the Silver Arrows.

Red Bull lost pace to its rivals in qualifying compared to practice, both cars ending up nearly a second adrift of the top spot.

Daniil Kvyat beat team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by just a tiny margin of one thousandth of a second as the RB11s placed fourth and fifth on the timesheet.

Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top six, just ahead of Williams team-mate Felipe Massa and the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen.

Mexican hero Sergio Perez out-qualified team-mate Nico Hulkenberg by less than a tenth of a second as the Force Indias completed the top ten.

Late improvements by Verstappen and Massa in Q2 meant Carlos Sainz Jr missed out on making the pole position shootout by just 0.007 seconds in the other Toro Rosso.

Romain Grosjean was P12, 0.223 seconds faster than Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado and just over a tenth away from making Q3 himself.

Marcus Ericsson couldn’t replicate the pace that put his Sauber tenth quickest in Q1, so he wound up P14 overall, ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Iceman complained of a problem with his brake pedal in Q1, where he ended up outside the top ten in the times.

He then stopped midway through Q2 after spinning at Turn 1.

The 2007 world champion will incur a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change following the breakdown he suffered with his SF15-T in final practice.

Fellow world champion Fernando Alonso squeaked ahead of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr by 0.009 seconds with his final flying lap.

Unfortunately the McLaren failed to escape Q1, along with the Manor Marussias and his team-mate Jenson Button, which failed to take part in session following engine problems in final practice.

Both McLaren-Hondas will start at the back on account of incurring grid penalties for multiple engine changes earlier in the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.

Qualifying positions, Mexican Grand Prix:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m19.480s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m19.668s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m19.850s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m20.398s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m20.399s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m20.448s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m20.567s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m20.710s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m20.716s
10    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m20.788s
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m20.942s
12    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m21.038s
13    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m21.261s
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.544s
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.788s
16    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m24.136s
17    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m24.386s
18    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m22.494s
19    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m21.779s
20    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    No time

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Hamilton wins third Formula 1 title in thrilling US Grand Prix


Lewis Hamilton achieved his dream result in winning his third Formula 1 world championship after clinching race victory in a thrilling United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who finished 2.8 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, becomes the first British driver to win back-to-back titles.

From second on the grid and on the run up the hill into Turn 1, Hamilton had the inside line, and not for the first time this season he forced Rosberg wide and off track after they had bumped wheels, relegating the German to fifth.

When Sauber’s Felipe Nasr lost most of his front wing at Turn 1 on lap two after clipping the rear-left tyre of team-mate Marcus Ericsson – on the occasion of the team’s 400th Grand Prix – debris at that corner led to the virtual safety car being called.

On the restart, Hamilton backed up those behind him to such a degree that once the racing resumed Rosberg soon passed Red Bull Racing duo Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.

Over the next few laps, on wearing intermediate tyres and on a circuit not quite ready for a switch to slicks, a fantastic battle ensued between the leading quartet.

Ricciardo took the lead on lap 15 from Hamilton, with Rosberg through for second shortly after.

That forced Hamilton into the pits at the end of lap 18, taking on the softs, with the Briton setting the tone as the rest of the field followed him in either on that lap or the following one.

From fourth and second respectively, Hamilton and Rosberg made their way up to third and first with moves on Kvyat and Ricciardo, with the latter duo not as strong on slick rubber.

When Ericsson pulled his car out of the race at Turn 11 on lap 28, its positioning on the track brought the safety car out.

At that stage it wiped out a 10.6 seconds lead for Rosberg over Hamilton, who had passed Ricciardo for second just before Ericsson’s exit.

All bar the leading four – Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Kvyat – pitted for another change of tyres, with fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari taking on a new set of mediums in an attempt to get to the end without another stop.

Once the safety car departed after five laps, the German soon cleared Kvyat and Ricciardo to move up to third before another incident on lap 37.

This time it was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg retiring after running into the side of Ricciardo in a bid to claim fifth, leading to a second virtual safety car, under which Rosberg pitted, dropping to fourth, with Hamilton staying out.

Come lap 42, with Rosberg within six seconds of Hamilton, the safety car was deployed again when Kvyat lost his car on the approach to the final turn, sending him into a barrier.

That allowed Hamilton to make his second stop and come out behind Rosberg, whose hopes of extending the title race into Mexico next Sunday ended when he got out of shape at Turn 15 on the power and ran off track at Turn 16-17.

From there it was a smooth run to the finish for Hamilton, with Rosberg just holding off Vettel for second, followed by Toro Rosso’s Max Vertsappen in fourth after a long final stint on his tyres.

Just 12 drivers saw the flag, with eight retiring through mechanical failure or after on-track incidents.

So an entertaining United States Grand Prix with many wheel-to-wheel battle. Lewis Hamilton proved that he is a racer and his desire to win reveals his passion in the sport. Many congratulations in achieving the third drivers’ title.

United States Grand Prix, after 56 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h50m52.703s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    2.850s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    3.381s
4    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    22.359s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    24.413s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    25.619s
7    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    28.058s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    32.273s
9    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    40.257s
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    53.371s
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    54.816s
12    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m15.277s
–    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    Spun off
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Collision
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    Brakes
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    Brakes
–    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamilton 327
2 Sebastian Vettel 251
3 Nico Rosberg 247
4 Kimi Raikkonen 123
5 Valtteri Bottas 111
6 Felipe Massa 109
7 Daniil Kvyat 76
8 Daniel Ricciardo 74
9 Sergio Perez 64
10 Max Verstappen 45
11 Romain Grosjean 44
12 Nico Hulkenberg 38
13 Felipe Nasr 27
14 Pastor Maldonado 26
15 Carlos Sainz 18
16 Jenson Button 16
17 Fernando Alonso 11
18 Marcus Ericsson 9
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Alexander Rossi 0
21 Will Stevens 0
22 Kevin Magnussen 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 574
2 Ferrari 374
3 Williams-Mercedes 220
4 Red Bull-Renault 150
5 Force India-Mercedes 102
6 Lotus-Mercedes 70
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 63
8 Sauber-Ferrari 36
9 McLaren-Honda 27
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0

Next race: Mexican Grand Prix, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. October 30-November 1st

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Rosberg achieves US Grand Prix pole in heavily delayed qualifying session

Nico Rosberg scored an important pole position at the Circuit of the Americans, following a twenty-hour delay and worsening conditions which postponed the final part of qualifying.

It was a complete washout on Saturday with many of the teams entertaining the soaking wet fans with fun and activities, including dancing! Come the on-track action, the qualifying session was held on Sunday morning but the rain continue to fall and the race officials decided to suspend after Q2.

Rosberg set the fastest time in that segment, a tenth clear of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who Rosberg must beat in the United States Grand Prix if he is to prevent Hamilton clinching a third world championship at this event.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull was fastest of all in Q1, but he ended up third on the grid, over a second slower than the Silver Arrows.

His team-mate Daniil Kvyat was fourth quickest, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who will receive a ten-place grid penalty for taking a fresh engine this weekend.

Sergio Perez beat Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg to the sixth fastest time by just over a tenth, while Kimi Raikkonen (who will also take a grid penalty), Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen rounded out the top ten.

Fernando Alonso’s predictions of a possible top-ten position in qualifying almost came true, as the McLaren driver missed out by less than a tenth of a second to Verstappen in Q2.

Several drivers, including reigning world champion Hamilton and 2007 title winner Raikkonen, survived a sliding moment at Turn 10 as rain worsened in this segment of qualifying, and Alonso’s team-mate Jenson Button suggested over team radio that conditions were bordering on unsafe.

Splashing to P11 for Alonso represented McLaren’s best qualifying result of the season so far, while Valtteri Bottas was 0.069 seconds slower than Alonso in P12, Bottas complaining of broken suspension on his FW37.

Jenson Button split the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado in completing the top 15.

Carlos Sainz Jr joined the Saubers and Manor-Marussias in failing to escape Q1, after crashing heavily in the early stages of that session.

Sainz lost the rear of his Toro Rosso over the kerb at Turn 3, before crashing hard into the barriers on the outside of Turn 4 and causing the session to be stopped while track marshals recovered his broken STR10.

The Toro Rosso racer will need permission to start the race from the back of the grid after failing to set a time fast enough to make the 107 per cent cut-off.

After the session resumed, Vettel’s Ferrari glanced the barriers following a spin at Turn 10, and the four-time world champion tumbled down the timesheet as others gradually improved their times.

The Saubers tried in vain to dislodge Vettel’s Ferrari from P15 as Q1 came to a close.

Marcus Ericsson was over a second adrift in the end, while team-mate Nasr was a further 0.9 seconds shy, complaining of “zero rear grip” from his C34.

United States Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m56.824s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m56.929s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m57.969s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m58.434s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m59.210s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m59.333s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m59.999s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    2m00.199s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    2m00.265s
10    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    2m00.334s
11    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    2m00.595s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    2m01.193s
13    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    2m01.604s
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    2m02.212s
15    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m58.596s*
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    2m03.194s
17    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    2m04.176s
18    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m59.703s*
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    2m04.526s
20    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    2m07.304s

*Ten-place grid penalties for Vettel and Raikkonen

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Hamilton steps closer to title as Rosberg suffers non-finish

Lewis Hamilton edges closer to his third Formula 1 world championship by dominating the Russian Grand Prix following the retirement of his Mercedes team-mate and title contender Nico Rosberg.

The Mercedes driver went side-by-side with polesitter Rosberg on the rundown to Turn 2 on the opening lap, but Nico was able to keep the lead.

Then when the safety car was called into action for a first-lap collision between Nico Hulkenberg’s spinning Force India and an unlucky Marcus Ericsson, Rosberg encountered a problem with his throttle pedal.

He ran wide at Turn 2, allowing Hamilton to take the lead and then Valtteri Bottas into second.

Rosberg subsequently slowed, crawling back to the pits where he retired the Silver Arrows. This non-finish means he is now 73 points behind championship leader Hamilton with only one hundred still available.

As for Mercedes, the Brackley-based team will have to wait until at least Austin to unpack its constructors’ championship t-shirts as it failed to outscore Ferrari by the required three points.

It was Hamilton’s 42nd career win, putting him one clear of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna and level with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel finished in second position on track and moves into second in the drivers’ standings, though if Hamilton outscores Vettel by nine points and Rosberg by two in America he will be champion.

Force India’s Sergio Perez achieved Force India’s third-ever podium, after choosing to pit under a second safety car and running a long stint on the softs.

That safety car period had been caused when Romain Grosjean lost the rear end of his Lotus at Turn 3 and as he tried to corrected, the car wobbled the other way, sending him onto the marbles and into the barriers hard.

The Lotus driver walked away from the crash, but admitted he would probably feel a little sore the next day.

There was drama on the final lap, when Bottas passed Perez for third, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen following him through.

But Raikkonen then had a lunge at Turn 4, hitting Bottas at the apex and pushing the Williams into the barrier.

Raikkonen survived the damage to get to the finish in fifth, behind Williams’s Felipe Massa who produced a superb recovery drive from P15.

The race stewards confirmed they would investigate the collision between Raikkonen and Bottas.

Should Ferrari and Raikkonen get a time penalty, Mercedes would secure the constructors’ title. If not, then the US Grand Prix.

Daniil Kvyat finished sixth on his home track in the Red Bull ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus.

McLaren scored points with both cars for the first time this season with Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, celebrating his 250th Grand Prix weekend but 248th start, ninth and tenth respectively.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz was on course for a superb points finish having started at the the back of the grid after missing qualifying following a high-speed crash in final practice.

But Sainz appeared to suffer a brake problem, causing him to spin twice, once into the barriers, and then retire the car a few corners later with significant damage to the rear wing.

Team-mate Max Verstappen, who suffered a puncture on the first lap when clipped by the spinning Hulkenberg, was classified P11.

Ricciardo was on course to finish fourth, but pulled off track with six laps to go, suggesting something had broken on the suspension in the Red Bull.

The Manor-run Marussias of Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens completed the list of finishers at Sochi.

Russian Grand Prix, race results after 53 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1:37.11.024
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    +5.953s
3    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    +28.918s
4    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    +38.831s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari     +42.358s
6    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault     +47.566s
7    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari     +56.508s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes     +61.088s
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda     +79.467s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda     +86.210s
11    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    +88.424s
12    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    DNF
13    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    +1 lap
14    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    +2 laps
15    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    DNF
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault   DNF
–    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    DNF
–    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    DNF
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes   DNF
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    DNF

Drivers’ championship:

1    Lewis Hamilton    302
2    Sebastian Vettel    236
3    Nico Rosberg    229
4    Kimi Raikkonen    129
5    Valtteri Bottas    111
6    Felipe Massa    109
7    Daniil Kvyat    74
8    Daniel Ricciardo    73
9    Sergio Perez    54
10    Romain Grosjean    44
11    Nico Hulkenberg    38
12    Max Verstappen    32
13    Felipe Nasr    23
14    Pastor Maldonado    20
15    Fernando Alonso    12
16    Carlos Sainz    12
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    8
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0
21    Alexander Rossi    0

Constructors’ championship:

1    Mercedes    531
2    Ferrari    365
3    Williams-Mercedes    220
4    Red Bull-Renault    147
5    Force India-Mercedes    92
6    Lotus-Mercedes    64
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    44
8    Sauber-Ferrari    32
9    McLaren-Honda    20
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

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Rosberg takes Russian Grand Prix pole

Nico Rosberg claimed his second consecutive pole position in Formula 1, as the Mercedes team comfortably set the pace in qualifying at the Sochi Autodrome.

Rosberg was faster than his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton throughout the session, and he was able to deny the world championship leader a 50th career pole for the second race running.

Cool track conditions meant the drivers had to complete more than one timed lap on a set of tyres to get them up to temperature, and both Mercedes drivers only attempted one run in Q3.

Rosberg lapped 0.320 seconds faster than Hamilton on his first flying lap, before Hamilton made a mistake and went off at Turn 13 on his second run, so headed for the pits.

Rosberg was 0.160 seconds slower than his best on his second flying lap, but that didn’t matter, as his earlier time was enough to secure his third pole of the season.

Valtteri Bottas was again best-of-the-rest for Williams, fractionally clear of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, which improved by nearly two tenths on its second Q3 run but fell 0.053 seconds short.

Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen made a mistake on his second Q3 effort at the same corner as Hamilton and ended up fifth quickest, ahead of Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, who were separated by less than half a tenth of a second.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso, and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten.

Russian home hero Daniil Kvyat failed to make the top ten shootout by just under a tenth of a second, setting the P11 fastest time in Q2 and complaining: “the tyres were not ready” temperature-wise.

Felipe Nasr put in a strong performance for Sauber to set P12, just 0.111 seconds slower than Kvyat’s Red Bull.

Jenson Button was over half a second further back in P14, but faster than the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.

Felipe Massa made a mess of his first run in Q2 then failed to make the cut on his final run, complaining of traffic.

The Braziian was only P15, a full 1.701 seconds slower than Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was third quickest in Q2.

Fernando Alonso was the highest-profile driver to fail to make it through the first part of qualifying.

Last-gasp improvements from McLaren team-mate Button and Nasr put the double world champion out in Q1.

Russian Grand Prix, qualifying times:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m37.113s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m37.433s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.912s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m37.965s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m38.348s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.659s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.691s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m38.787s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.924s
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.728s
11    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.214s
12    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.323s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m39.763s
14    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m39.811s
15    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m39.895s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m40.660s
17    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m43.693s
18    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m43.804s
19    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m40.144s
20    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault No time

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Hamilton equals Senna’s record of F1 wins at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton achieved his hero’s record of 41 Grands Prix victories with a commanding drive at Suzuka.

The Mercedes driver won the Japanese Grand Prix on the opening lap thanks to a better start from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Just a week on from the struggle around Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit, normal service was resumed for Mercedes as Hamilton led home Rosberg by 18.9 seconds, scoring their eighth one-two of the season.

By winning the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton has now equalled the three-time world champion Ayrton Senna with 41 victories and from his 162nd start, one more than the Formula 1 legend.

The championship leader is now 48 points clear of Rosberg with 125 available from the remaining five races, with Sebastian Vettel falling 59 points adrift after the Ferrari driver could only manage third.

The key moment came in the opening seconds, as Rosberg and Hamilton ran side by side through the first corners.

With the preferable inside line at Turn 2, Hamilton was able to edge Rosberg aside, leading to the latter running marginally off track, allowing Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to sweep by into second and third place.

Aside from one complaint shortly before his second pitstop after 31 laps about “vibrations so big” that left him “struggling”, Hamilton was never troubled through to the chequered flag.

Rosberg limited the damage to his team-mate by passing Bottas on lap 17 before the undercut worked on Vettel 13 laps later come the second round of pit-stops.

Behind Vettel was team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari made its own undercut work on Bottas who, from third on the grid at the start, had to settle for fifth place.

Williams team-mate Felipe Massa’s race was ruined in just a  few hundred metres as the passing Daniel Ricciardo’s left-rear tyre collided with his own front-right.

Both drivers suffered punctures, with Massa also requiring a new front-wing from damage sustained on the slow crawl back to the pits.

Massa finished P17 and two laps down, with only Manor duo Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens and late retiree Felipe Nasr behind him.

Ricciardo was P15 and a lap adrift, a week after finishing second in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat – whose car was completely rebuilt following his heavy crash in qualifying, requiring a new chassis, power unit and gearbox – endured a frustrating race and multiple issues as he could only manage P13.

From P13 on the grid, after serving a three-place penalty for causing a collision with Massa in Singapore, Nico Hulkenberg put in a fine sixth in his Force India, gaining ground at the start and then jumping both Lotus drivers at the first round of pit-stops.

Despite the Enstone-based team’s ongoing financial woes, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were seventh and eighth, with the Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr rounding out the points scorers.

Verstappen had started P17 after serving his own three-place penalty for stopping in a potentially dangerous place in qualifying after his car suffered an electrical failure.

Sainz had his own moment in the Japanese Grand Prix, hitting a bollard on the entry to the pitlane, forcing his pit crew into an unexpected front-wing change. He then lost out in a late battle with Verstappen.

As for McLaren, on Honda’s home track, Fernando Alonso could have done no more to suggest he wants a swift exit from his three-year contract…

During the race, Alonso bemoaned his lack of pace, saying “it’s embarrassing, very embarrassing”, before later labelling Honda’s power unit as “GP2” standard, followed by an exasperated cry of frustration.

Alonso eventually finished P11, with Jenson Button P16.

So not the most exciting Japanese Grand Prix but for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, this was an important victory. He matches his hero’s achievement and extends the points advantage over Mercedes team-mate.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka after 53 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h28m06.508s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    18.964s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    20.850s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    33.768s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    36.746s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    55.559s
7    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m12.298s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m13.575s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.315s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
13    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
16    Jenson Button    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
17    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    2 Laps
18    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    3 Laps
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    Not running

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    277
2    Nico Rosberg    229
3    Sebastian Vettel    218
4    Kimi Raikkonen    119
5    Valtteri Bottas    111
6    Felipe Massa    97
7    Daniel Ricciardo    73
8    Daniil Kvyat    66
9    Romain Grosjean    44
10    Sergio Perez    39
11    Nico Hulkenberg    38
12    Max Verstappen    32
13    Felipe Nasr    17
14    Pastor Maldonado    16
15    Carlos Sainz    12
16    Fernando Alonso    11
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0
21    Alexander Rossi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    506
2    Ferrari    337
3    Williams-Mercedes    208
4    Red Bull-Renault    139
5    Force India-Mercedes    77
6    Lotus-Mercedes    60
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    44
8    Sauber-Ferrari    26
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Russian Grand Prix, Sochi. October 9-11.

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Rosberg takes pole at Suzuka as Kvyat crashes out

Nico Rosberg achieved his second successive pole position at the iconic Suzuka circuit for the Japanese Grand Prix, as a spectacular accident for Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat brought a premature end to qualifying.

Rosberg was fractionally faster than his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the first runs in Q3, taking provisional pole by a small margin of 0.076 seconds.

Rosberg had just improved by 0.007 seconds in the first sector when Kvyat put a wheel off the track turning in to the kink on the approach to the hairpin.

His Red Bull was spat off into the barrier on the outside, tearing off the left-hand side of the RB11 before digging into the gravel trap and rolling over.

The Russian walked away from the wreckage but the accident brought out the red flags and halted any hopes for Hamilton of striking back, thus Rosberg confirmed his first pole since May’s Spanish Grand Prix, and only his second all season.

The Williams of Valtteri Bottas set the third quickest time, just under four tenths adrift of Hamilton, and ahead of Singapore Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.

Felipe Massa made a mistake at the chicane on his best lap and ended up fifth, just 0.010 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen, who complained of too much understeer in his Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean rounded out the top eight, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez and Kvyat, who both failed to set a time in Q3.

Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, and Pastor Maldonado all failed to make the top ten shootout after a close battle at the end of Q2.

Hulkenberg lost out to Grosjean by 0.112 seconds, dropping the crucial time in sector one, while Sainz was slow in sector two (the Degners, the hairpin and Spoon), which meant he missed the cut by almost two tenths.

Maldonado was just 0.044 seconds further back in P13, followed by Fernando Alonso in the best of the McLarens, and Max Verstappen, who failed to take part in Q2 after stopping on track in the first part of qualifying when his Toro Rosso broke down with electrical problems.

Verstappen’s stranded car on the exit of the hairpin spoiled any hopes Jenson Button’s McLaren had of making it through to Q2.

The 2009 world champion earlier complained of problems with in correct engine settings on his first run, which required him to pit.

After aborting his second run because of the yellow flags, Button told his team firmly on the radio: “in the position we’re in we cannot make any mistakes” after winding up P16, just under two tenths adrift of team-mate Alonso.

Sauber suffered an even worse session, as both drivers had to abort their final flying laps.

Felipe Nasr complained: “I was on a good lap!” after qualifying P18, less than a tenth behind team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who spun under braking at Spoon Curve on his first run, after clipping the artificial grass with his right-rear wheel.

Will Stevens won the private battle of the Manor Marussias by default, after team-mate Alexander Rossi was late joining the session then also had to abort his flying lap due to the yellows.

Qualifying positions, Suzuka:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m32.584s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m32.660s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m33.024s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.245s
5    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m33.337s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m33.347s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.497s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m33.967s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
10    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    No time
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m34.453s
12    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m34.497s
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m34.785s
14    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault No time
15    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m35.664s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.673s
17    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.390s*
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.760s
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m38.783
20    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m47.114s

*Three-place grid drop due to a collision with Felipe Massa at the Singapore Grand Prix

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