Hamilton wins in Mexico to keep hopes of title battle

Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back victories by taking the chequered flag in the Mexican Grand Prix to keep his Formula 1 championship fight with Nico Rosberg alive.

As in the United States last weekend, Hamilton spearheaded another Mercedes one-two, finishing 8.3 seconds clear of Rosberg to close the gap to 19 points with two races remaining.

Rosberg had a scare on lap 50 when Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dived down the inside into Turn 4 after Rosberg had made a small mistake at Turn 1.

Verstappen locked up as he made the pass, sliding past Rosberg and getting out of shape, allowing the Mercedes driver to get back through into second.

After that, Verstappen slid back into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel, and on lap 68 the youngest locked up at Turn 1 and took to the grass to hold onto his third position.

The race stewards handed a Verstappen a five-second time penalty soon after the chequered flag, enough to drop him to fifth place, meaning he had to leave the cool-down room as he prepared to take the podium.

That promoted Vettel – who was very angry on the radio at Verstappen and the FIA before the penalty – to third position.

The stewards will investigate another incident involving Vettel and the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo as they fight for fourth into Turn 4 on lap 69, touching wheels as the Ferrari held the position.

Up until those moments, the race at the front had been uneventful, with Hamilton maintaining the lead as Rosberg tried to keep a safe gap in second.

After Hamilton stopped on lap 17 Rosberg led for three laps before his stop, with Vettel then taking over for seven laps before taking on new rubber, with Hamilton regaining the lead after 31 laps from which there was no looking back.

For the second race running a good start off the line from pole gave Hamilton his platform for the victory, although he did suffer a significant lock up with his right-front wheel into Turn 1.

That resulted in Hamilton taking a trip across the grass and cutting out Turn 2 completely, while Rosberg also went off the track at Turn 2 under attack from Verstappen.

Further back, Esteban Gutierrez tagged Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, who in turn spun into Marcus Ericsson in his Sauber, sending both off track, with the Manor driver retiring immediately.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz earned himself a five-second time penalty for forcing fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso off track in his McLaren on the run from Turn 3 to Turn 4.

With debris on the track, and Wehrlein’s stricken car, the safety car was deployed at the end of lap one, staying out for two laps.

Red Bull made an early tactical gamble, bringing in Ricciardo immediately and stripping him of the super-soft tyre and sending him on a long stint on mediums, dropping him to P17.

Ricciardo pitted again after 50 laps for a late run on softs, claiming fourth pending the stewards’ investigation, with Verstappen fifth.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg seventh, with the German surviving a late spin after tangling with The Iceman.

Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with home hero Sergio Perez tenth.

The championship may not have been settled at Mexico but the fight goes on for Brazil. If Nico Rosberg wins the race at Interlagos, then the Mercedes driver will be champion unless Lewis Hamilton has other ideas. Game on!

Mexican Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    71    1h40m31.402s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    71    8.354s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    71    17.313s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    71    20.858s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    71    21.323s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    71    49.376s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    71    58.891s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    71    1m05.612s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    71    1m16.206s
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    71    1m16.798s
11    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
14    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    70    1 Lap
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    70    1 Lap
18    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
19    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
20    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    69    2 Laps
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    349
2    Lewis Hamilton    330
3    Daniel Ricciardo    239
4    Sebastian Vettel    192
5    Kimi Raikkonen    178
6    Max Verstappen    175
7    Sergio Perez    85
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    60
10    Fernando Alonso    52
11    Felipe Massa    51
12    Carlos Sainz    38
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    679
2    Red Bull-Renault    422
3    Ferrari    370
4    Force India-Mercedes    145
5    Williams-Mercedes    136
6    McLaren-Honda    74
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November.

Hamilton takes Mexican Grand Prix pole


Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifty ninth pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, while championship rival Nico Rosberg recovered from fourth to take second with his final lap.

Hamilton did a lap time good enough for pole on his first run in the Q3 top ten shootout and was unable to improve on his second attempt.

But Rosberg had the most to do on his second runs, as he was initially only fourth quickest, behind Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

With all drivers using super-softs during Q3, Verstappen and Ricciardo were only able to make tiny improvements on their second runs in an attempt to consolidate second and third positions.

Rosberg, who has had a tough weekend, managed to do enough on his final run to jump to second, one tenth faster than Verstappen.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first run in Q3 was enough for fifth position. A solid effort.

Ferrari had a disappointing qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen unable to improve on his first run time and ending up sixth and Sebastian Vettel moving from eighth to seventh on his final run.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.

The Silver Arrows drivers, as well as the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, will start the Mexican Grand Prix on the soft-compound Pirellis having set their fastest times in Q2 using the slower rubber.

Raikkonen did go out on super-softs in Q2, but did not improve on his soft time.

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.113s seconds to Sainz, and will start P11.

Crowd favourite and hero Sergio Perez was unable to improve his lap time on his second run using super-softs, having set a time ultimately good enough for P12 using the softs.

Jenson Button took P13 for McLaren ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein had earlier put in a brilliant last lap on a third run in Q1 to reach Q2.

Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez was fastest of those eliminated in Q1 having spun in the Esses while trying to improve on his final flying lap.

Although he held P16 at the time, Wehrlein’s late effort then bumped him down to P18.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was only able to complete a single four-lap run, reporting a total loss of power and returning to the pits and not running again.

Felipe Nasr was P19 and ahead of the Manor of Esteban Ocon, while Romain Grosjean had a trouble session.

Grosjean was unable to post a lap time on his first run after locking up and going off at Turn 12, before being called back into the pits because he didn’t have enough fuel to do another run.

Although the Haas driver did set a time during a seven-lap run on his second set of super-softs, he was unable to threaten the top 16 and lost time on his final attempt when Gutierrez spun in front of him.

Jolyon Palmer was unable to participate in qualifying after suffering chassis damage from clouting a kerb during the final practice session.

Mexican Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m18.704s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m18.958s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m19.054s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m19.133s
5    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m19.330s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m19.376s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m19.381s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m19.551s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m20.032s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m20.378s
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m20.282s
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m20.287s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m20.673s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m21.131s
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.536s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m21.785s
17    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m21.401s
18    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m21.454s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.692s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m21.881s
21    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m21.916s
22    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    No time

Hamilton achieves 50th career victory in Austin

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 50th victory in Formula 1, leading his championship rival Nico Rosberg at the Circuit of the Americans.

The reigning world champion, who has won four times at Austin to add to his 2007 US Grand Prix success at Indianapolis, finished 4.5 seconds ahead of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo third.

Rosberg’s championship lead has been cut to 26 points over Hamilton, but it could have been more as Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen had an opportunity in upsetting the Mercedes one-two.

Hamilton and Rosberg made clean starts, although Ricciardo took advantage of the wide first corner to get alongside Rosberg, ultimately completing the pass around the outside through Turn 2.

Verstappen, who passed Kimi Raikkonen on lap 12 to claim fourth, then began to push Rosberg who found himself sandwiched between the Red Bull pair.

But Verstappen’s race unravelled from lap 26 when he mistakenly thought he had been called into the pits, with his crew not ready when he arrived.

Three laps later Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure, and he tried to get his car back to the pits rather than stopping trackside.

When Verstappen eventually parked up, the virtual safety car was deployed, which gave Mercedes pair Hamilton and Rosberg what Ricciardo described as “a free stop”.

Having stopped for a second time on lap 25, before the virtual safety car, Ricciardo therefore found himself third, losing what Red Bull estimated to be ten seconds to Rosberg thanks to the virtual safety car.

From that point on the top three positions were sealed, with Ricciardo safe in third as Raikkonen was on a three-stop strategy and had another stop to make.

Raikkonen’s third stop led to the end of his race though, as he pulled away too quickly, with the right-rear tyre gun yanked off in the process.

As Raikkonen began to climb up the hill out of the pitlane he was forced to pull over after being told to stop, from where he rolled his car back down the slope and out of harm’s way.

Raikkonen was the fourth retirement of the race, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first out after a Turn 1 collision with Valtteri Bottas in his Williams, sustaining trackrod damage with his car unable to turn left.

Bottas suffered a right-rear puncture that dropped him to the back of the field, and after an early pitstop he could only manage P16.

Along with Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez was the other driver to retire after 18 laps with what appeared to be a brake problem that led to him going off at Turn 11.

Behind the leading trio, Vettel salvaged fourth for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso fifth for McLaren after passing Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz on the penultimate lap of the 56.

Alonso, though, is under investigation for an incident with Felipe Massa on lap 54 that led to a front-left puncture for the Williams driver, who managed to hang on to seventh ahead of Sergio Perez.

The Force India driver suffered a lap one spin after an incident with Daniil Kvyat that led to a ten-second time penalty for the Russian who finished P12.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean were ninth and tenth, the latter claiming a point for Haas at the team’s maiden home race.

United States Grand Prix, race result after 56 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    1h38m12.618s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    56    4.520s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    56    19.692s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    43.134s
5    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    56    1m33.953s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    56    1m36.124s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
10    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    55    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    55    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
16    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
18    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    54    2 Laps
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    38    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    28    Gearbox
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas/Ferrari    16    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    1    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    331
2    Lewis Hamilton    305
3    Daniel Ricciardo    227
4    Sebastian Vettel    177
5    Kimi Raikkonen    170
6    Max Verstappen    165
7    Sergio Perez    84
8    Valtteri Bottas    81
9    Nico Hulkenberg    54
10    Fernando Alonso    52
11    Felipe Massa    49
12    Carlos Sainz    38
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    636
2    Red Bull-Renault    400
3    Ferrari    347
4    Force India-Mercedes    138
5    Williams-Mercedes    130
6    McLaren-Honda    74
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Mexican Grand Prix, October 26-30.

Hamilton takes United States Grand Prix pole position

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 58th career pole position with a scorching lap around the Circuit of the Americans with a time of one minute, 34.999 seconds.

That lap from Hamilton breaks the previous track record set by Sebastian Vettel in his 2012 season racing for Red Bull.  Highlighting the pure speed and performance from the Mercedes.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg put on a fight for top spot against his team-mate but had to settle for second position.

Despite missing out on P1, Rosberg can afford to finish behind Hamilton to seal the championship, so pole position is not that big a deal.

The reigning world champion did his damage through the first sector, where he was almost three tenths faster than Rosberg, who ran wide at Turn 1 on both of his Q3 laps.

Rosberg, who briefly held top spot due to finishing his lap before his team-mate, was still fast enough to set the second quickest time, almost three tenths clear of Daniel Ricciardo in the best of the Red Bulls.

Max Verstappen was fourth, ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

The Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on soft tyres after all making it through Q2 on that compound.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest for Force India, well clear of the remaining top ten runners.

Hulkenberg was in superb form, lapping inside the top six in the first two segments of the session.

He was also the only non-Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to break into the one minute, 36 seconds.

Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa headed an impressive performance from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz  in rounding out the top ten.

Hulkenberg’s Force India team-mate Sergio Perez missed out on making Q3 by just over a tenth of a second.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda was six hundredths of a second further back in P12, ahead of the Toro Rosso of newly re-signed Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas, and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.

Marcus Ericsson completed a cursory run on old tyres in Q2 so wound up P16, after lapping quicker than both Gutierrez and Palmer in Q1.

Palmer complained about his final Q1 run being a “fucking disaster” as he held up Jenson Button’s McLaren on his out-lap, but the Renault still made it through to Q2.

Button was furious to drop out in Q1, after encountering the Renault entering the final corner of his best lap.

The 2009 world champion ended up a lowly P19 in his McLaren-Honda, fractionally behind Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Kevin Magnussen’s Renault, which both also missed the cut.

Pascal Wehrlein recovered from binning his Manor in the gravel in final practice to qualify P20, ahead of Felipe Nasr – who complained about his Sauber’s brakes – and Manor team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Qualifying positions, Circuit of the Americans:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m34.999s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m35.215s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.509s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.747s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m36.131s
6    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.358s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m36.628s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.116s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.269s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.326s
11    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.353s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m37.417s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.480s
14    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m37.773s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m37.935s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.356s
17    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m38.308s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m38.317s
19    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m38.327s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m38.548s
21    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m38.583s
22    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m38.806s

Rosberg wins at Suzuka as Mercedes takes championship

Nico Rosberg has extending his title lead with a masterclass victory in the Japanese Grand Prix as another slow start affected Lewis Hamilton.

With his 30th career pole position, Rosberg led from the start and never looked back to record his 23rd victory in the sport and his ninth this season. This result means the Mercedes driver has a 33-point gap over Hamilton with four races left.

Hamilton could only manage third, with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen taking second as 5.7 seconds covered the top three at the chequered flag.

The Japanese Grand Prix sealed a third successive constructors’ championship for Mercedes after it failed to clinch it in Malaysia last weekend when Hamilton’s engine blew.

Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a third successive win at Suzuka were over after the first few seconds.

Following overnight rain, come the start of the race there were still damp patches on the circuit, with one of those being Hamilton’s grid box, and the three-time champion showing some concern beforehand.

Once the five red lights went out Hamilton then bogged down and was swamped, slotting into eighth and apologising to his team shortly afterwards.

While Rosberg enjoyed the lead, what followed was damage limitation from Hamilton, who passed Nico Hulkenberg on lap seven before making up another two positions at his first pitstop to get ahead of Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton then soon cleared Ricciardo to leave him with Verstappen and Vettel in between him and Rosberg after all the opening pitstops in which the leaders took on the hard compound tyres.

Come the second round of stops Hamilton again made up lost ground, getting ahead of Vettel by pitting before the Ferrari.

Mercedes again gave Hamilton the hard tyre, while Ferrari switched Vettel to softs in an aggressive move, but despite a couple of laps of pressure from the latter he was unable to get close to make a move on the former.

Vettel’s irritation over backmarkers this season reached new heights in this race as the four-time champion was continually on the team radio bemoaning being held up, and by the end he could only claim fourth, 14.4 seconds behind Rosberg.

Hamilton did close to within a second of Verstappen on lap 44, and on lap 52 he made a move into the chicane, but was forced to take the escape road as the 19-year-old moved to the inside to defend as they hit the brakes.

Behind the leading top four, Raikkonen, who started the race with a five-place penalty for a gearbox change after qualifying third, and Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth.

Force India pair Perez and Hulkenberg were seventh and eighth, with the team ekeing out a 10-point gap over Williams whose drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas finished ninth and tenth on a one-stop strategy.

So the constructors’ title has been won by Mercedes for the third successive time. Top stuff to everybody at Silver Arrows.

As for the drivers’ championship, this is looking good for Nico Rosberg. 33-point advantage and 100 to play for. Rosberg can afford to finish second in the remaining four races and still win the title. Can Lewis Hamilton fight back? It’s going to be difficult and yet the pressure is on. Roll on the US Grand Prix.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka race results:
1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    53    1h26m43.333s
2    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    53    4.978s
3    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    53    5.776s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    53    20.269s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    53    28.370s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    53    33.941s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53    57.495s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    53    59.177s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m37.763s
10    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    53    1m38.323s
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    53    1m39.254s
12    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    52    1 Lap
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    52    1 Lap
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
16    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    52    1 Lap
17    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
18    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    52    1 Lap
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
20    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    52    1 Lap
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    52    1 Lap
22    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    52    1 Lap

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    313
2    Lewis Hamilton    280
3    Daniel Ricciardo    212
4    Kimi Raikkonen    170
5    Max Verstappen    165
6    Sebastian Vettel    165
7    Valtteri Bottas    81
8    Sergio Perez    80
9    Nico Hulkenberg    54
10    Felipe Massa    43
11    Fernando Alonso    42
12    Carlos Sainz    30
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    19
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    593
2    Red Bull-Renault    385
3    Ferrari    335
4    Force India-Mercedes    134
5    Williams-Mercedes    124
6    McLaren-Honda    62
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    47
8    Haas-Ferrari    28
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: United States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americans. October 21-23.

Rosberg beats Hamilton to Japanese pole by 0.013 seconds

Nico Rosberg won a thrilling duel against his Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position at Suzuka.

This was Rosberg’s third successive Japanese Grand Prix pole and the margin was a tiny 0.013 seconds.

The current title leader was fastest in every practice session, and topped the field again in qualifying, but only after a late rally against a Hamilton charge.

Hamilton was playing catch up compared to his team-mate in Q1 and Q2, but went ahead after the first runs in Q3.

Rosberg leapt back to the top of the times with a one minute, 30.647 seconds on his final lap, as Hamilton fell just 0.013 seconds short of taking P1 despite an improvement of his own at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen produced a strong lap to qualify third quickest for Ferrari, the only other driver to make it below the one minute, 31 seconds target.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was less than a tenth slower in fourth, but he faces a three-place drop on the grid thanks to his penalty for hitting Nico Rosberg at the first corner at last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen beat his Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the fifth fastest time, also by less than a tenth of a second.

Haas got both cars through to Q3 for the first time, and was best of the rest behind the top six cars in Q2.

Romain Grosjean set an identical time to Force India’s Sergio Perez in Q3, but ended up eighth quickest, just ahead of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

Grosjean’s Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was seventh fastest in Q2, but ended up cut adrift at the bottom of the top ten in Q3, over half a second slower than Grosjean.

The Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa made only one run each in Q2, and were just edged out of the top ten by the Force Indias.

Bottas missed the cut by less than a tenth, while Massa was only 0.165 seconds further back and will start P12.

Daniil Kvyat felt he did the best he could to put his Toro Rosso with P13, fractionally faster than team-mate Carlos Sainz, who spun at Spoon Curve on his second run in Q2.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda was only 0.004 seconds slower than Sainz in P15, 0.118 seconds ahead of the leading Renault of Jolyon Palmer.

Jenson Button failed to escape Q1 at Honda’s home circuit, ending up just 0.032 seconds shy of beating McLaren team-mate Alonso to the draw.

Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was P18, ahead of the Sauber pairing of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr and the Manors.

Ericsson was slowest of all after the first runs in Q1, but ended up just over a tenth ahead of his team-mate after Nasr failed to go faster on his second run.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the second race in a row. On this occasion, by more than two tenths of a second, feeling he couldn’t have got much more out of his car.

The fact Wehrlein qualified last renders his five-place grid penalty for an illegal gearbox change potentially irrelevant.

So a very close and competitive qualifying session. Just 0.013 seconds the difference between the Mercedes drivers.

Great to see Haas making the top ten for the first time and yet all focus is on Mercedes. Can the team wrap up the constructors’ title in Japan? Signs point to yes thanks to Rosberg and Hamilton’s pace.

Japanese Grand Prix, qualifying standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m30.647s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m30.660s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m30.949s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m31.178s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m31.240s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m31.961s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m31.028s*
8    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m31.961s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m32.142s
10    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m32.547s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.315s
12    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m32.380s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m32.623s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m32.685s
15    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m32.689s
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m32.807s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m32.851s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m33.023s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.222s
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m33.332s
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m33.353s
22    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m33.561s

*Grid penalty for colliding into Roberg at Sepang

Riccardo wins as Hamilton retires from Sepang

Daniel Ricciardo finally wins his first race of the season after fending off his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen in a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton retired from the lead.

Hamilton was on course to win and reclaim the championship lead as he built up a 22.7 seconds lead over Ricciardo but his engine expired on the approach to Turn 1 with 15 laps to go.

The reigning world champion cried “Ah, no, no, no!” as he pulled to a stop at the side of the track, climbing out of the Mercedes, squatting down and placing his head in his hands.

The virtual safety car was called with Ricciardo, who was running nose-to-tail with Verstappen at the time, pitting along with his Red Bull team-mate for soft tyres as they had a 40-second gap back to Nico Rosberg.

They rejoined comfortably ahead of the Mercedes driver and though Verstappen ran close behind, Ricciardo absorbed the pressure to take his first victory of the season.

It was the honey badger’s first win for over two years and Red Bull Racing’s first one-two finish since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Prior to Hamilton’s failure, Verstappen had caught Ricciardo with fresher tyres, asking to be let through to fight for the win.

But Ricciardo defended hard, and the pair went side-by-side through the high-speed Turns 5 and 6, with Ricciardo winning the battle on the brakes into Turn 7 to hold what would turn out to be crucial track position.

It was like an action replay of Sepang 2013 with Sebastian Vettel fighting against Mark Webber for the victory. With the infamous Multi-21 radio call to hold formation…

Rosberg completed an impressive recovery drive after being pitched into a spin by Sebastian Vettel at Turn 1 to finish third and extend his championship lead to 23 points with five races remaining.

There was drama from the start as Vettel tried an ambitious pass down the inside of Verstappen, only to lock up and slide into Rosberg, breaking the Ferrari’s front-left suspension and pitching him into retirement.

Rosberg got going again and began a fight back through the field, rising up to fourth place and then barging passed Raikkonen into Turn 2 for third position.

The race stewards took a dim view of that and awarded Rosberg a 10-second penalty for causing a collision but the Mercedes driver had sufficient pace to build a gap from The Iceman and hold onto third.

Hamilton had driven the perfect race up until his retirement, going long on the softs and then taking the hards before building a gap to the rest to allow the opportunity for a second stop.

But “an unexpected mechanical failure of the internal combustion engine with no prior warning” according to Mercedes ended his hopes of a first victory since before the summer break.

Verstappen had looked in contention for at least second and possibly victory when he pitted early for a second set of stops while Ricciardo stayed out in second, but that advantage was neutralised when both pitted following Hamilton’s retirement.

Raikkonen finished fourth with Valtteri Bottas, who completed an impressive opening stint on the mediums to make a one-stop strategy work, fifth and Sergio Perez sixth.

Fernando Alonso battled his way up the field from last on the grid, having had a 45-place grid penalty for changing engine components, to take seventh ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button.

Jolyon Palmer recovered from what he described as a “pretty depressing” qualifying to finish tenth and score his first point of the season.

However, Renault decided to retire Kevin Magnussen’s car midway through the race because of damage sustained when he was hit from behind by Daniil Kvyat as the field bunched up at the first corner.

It was a miserable day for Haas with Romain Grosjean pitched into the gravel after suffering brake failure while Esteban Gutierrez retired when his front left wheel flew off the car when he was out on track.

So a crazy start with previous Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel knocked out with bold move. Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton leading comfortably until a fire exit… And yet a popular win for Daniel Ricciardo.

As for Nico Rosberg. Get bashed from Vettel at Turn 1 on opening lap. Recovered from the back to finish third and extends his lead in the drivers’ standings to 23 points. The battle for the title continues with five races left.

Malaysian Grand Prix, race results after 56 laps:
1    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault   56    1h37m12.776s
2    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    56    2.443s
3    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    56    25.516s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    56    28.785s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    56    1m01.582s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    56    1m03.794s
7    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    56    1m05.205s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    56    1m14.062s
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    56    1m21.816s
10    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    56    1m35.466s
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    56    1m38.878s
12    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
16    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
–    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    46    Retirement
–    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    40    Engine
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    39    Retirement
–    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    17    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    7    Brakes
–    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    288
2    Lewis Hamilton    265
3    Daniel Ricciardo    204
4    Kimi Raikkonen    160
5    Sebastian Vettel    153
6    Max Verstappen    147
7    Valtteri Bottas    80
8    Sergio Perez    74
9    Nico Hulkenberg    50
10    Fernando Alonso    42
11    Felipe Massa    41
12    Carlos Sainz    30
13    Romain Grosjean    28
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    19
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    553
2    Red Bull-Renault    359
3    Ferrari    313
4    Force India-Mercedes    124
5    Williams-Mercedes    121
6    McLaren-Honda    62
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    47
8    Haas-Ferrari    28
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka. October 7-9.

Hamilton sets new qualifying record in Sepang

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 100th front row appearance with his eight pole position of this season. His speed in the Mercedes was incredible, breaking the lap record at the Sepang International Circuit. The pole time was an impressive one minute, 32. 850 seconds.

Championship rival and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was under pressure and yet was able to recover to grab second position from the Red Bulls. Although he was 0.414 seconds adrift from Hamilton.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will form row two with the birthday boy – just turned 19 years old – ahead of the honey badger by a margin of four tenths of a second.

It’s a Ferrari row three with four-times Sepang winner Sebastian Vettel ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg represents a Force India row four.

As for Jenson Button – celebrating his 300th Grand Prix at Malaysia – ninth position is a solid result for the McLaren ace.

Button made it through to Q3 with a fine late effort that, along with improvements from the Force India pair, meant the Williams of Valtteri Bottas missed the cut by just 0.039 seconds, as Bottas failed to improve on his second Q2 run.

Romain Grosjean beat Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez to the 12th fastest time by less than a tenth, while Kevin Magnussen did an excellent job to qualify his Renault P14, having missed most of Friday practice after his car caught fire in the pits in FP1.

A late improvement from Daniil Kvyat meant he beat Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz to P15 on the grid by just 0.005 seconds.

This was the first time Kvyat has out-qualified Sainz since June’s European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.

Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda joined the Saubers and Manors after Q1.

Given Magnussen’s performance Palmer had a realistic shot at making Q2, but his final lap of the session was scrappy and he ended up dropping behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr into P19.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the first time, beating him to the P20 by 0.136 seconds.

Alonso completed a cursory run on medium tyres in his McLaren, knowing he will start at the back of the grid regardless owing to a 45-place grid penalty for various illegal engine component swaps.

Malaysian Grand Prix, qualifying times:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m32.850s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m33.264s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.420s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.467s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.584s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m33.632s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.319s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.489s
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m34.518s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m34.671s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m34.577s
12    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m35.001s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m35.097s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m35.277s
15    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.369s
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.374s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.816s
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.949s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m35.999s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor/Mercedes    1m36.451s
21    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m36.587s
22    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m37.155s