Mercedes Clinches 6th Championship in Japan

There are a lot of badass things about Formula 1 – the speed, the G-forces, the on-track battles and rivalries, and about a dozen others. However, what may be the most badass is forging ahead with a scheduled race despite the world’s worst recorded typhoon in 60 years heading straight for the country. Yes, F1 did that.

Regardless that Typhoon Hagibis was heading straight for Japan, the FIA chose to cancel FP3 only, and postpone qualifying to Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the race would still run acccording to plan.

LAP 1: Drama ensued as soon as the lights went out as Valtteri Bottas, who started 3rd in the 2nd row, made an aggressive move to the outside of Charles Leclerc and passed both pole-sitter, Sebastian Vettel, and Leclerc in one move. In Turn 2, Charles Leclerc drifted across the track and made contact with Max Verstappen. The incident spun Verstappen into the grass and left the #16 of Leclerc with major wing damage.

LAP 4: Heading into Turn 6, Alex Albon forced Lando Norris off the track as the two battled for position. Norris pitted later in the lap since his front brakes were on fire.

LAP 6: Following the Lap 1 contact with Verstappen, it seemed as though Leclerc was leaving a trail of sparks and equipment behind him as he insisted over the radio that the car was fine. Lewis Hamilton, who was stuck behind the Monegasque driver, was audibly annoyed over the radio as he was being pelting with droppings. Leclerc finally came to the pit lane when his left side mirror ripped off the car.

LAP 9: The FIA Stewards annouced the start of the race was under review after Sebastian Vettel appeared to have jumped the start by inching forward before all 5 lights were out. Ultimately, they chose not to penalize Vettel because he quickly stopped once he realized he was rolling.

LAP 16: Max Verstappen succumbed to the damages he received on the opening lap and retired from the race.

LAP 23: Impressively, after starting in P16 and failing to show a lot of speed in practice, Daniel Ricciardo clawed his way to P5. However, he was the last car in the race to pit and dropped to P11 once the Renault team finally called him in.

LAP 37: Bottas pitted from the lead for a second time, putting on a set of used soft tires and handing the lead to his teammate, Hamilton, with under 20 laps to go.

LAP 42: Lewis Hamilton pitted from the lead for red tires with only 11 laps remaining, the goal of the pit stop being faster lap times. The first position went to Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton settled into 3rd, setting his sights on Sebastian Vettel in the 2nd position.

LAP 52: Despite getting in DRS range of Vettel, Hamilton had a tough time passing the German driver and eventually had to settle for 3rd. Meanwhile, Bottas cruised around on the last lap, with a large gap ahead of the field. Elsewhere on track, the Racing Point of Sergio Perez crashed into the tire barriers in Turn 2. It is still unclear what caused the collision.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 53: Bottas claimed his 3rd Grand Prix victory of the season, his first since Azerbaijan at the start of the year. Hamilton got the fastest lap and with it, Mercedes AMG took home their 6th consecutive constructors championship, 4 races before the end of the season.

RESULTS:

  1. Valtteri Bottas
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Alex Albon
  5. Carlos Sainz
  6. Daniel Ricciardo
  7. Charles Leclerc
  8. Pierre Gasly
  9. Sergio Perez
  10. Nico Hulkenberg
  11. Lance Stroll
  12. Daniil Kvyat
  13. Lando Norris
  14. Kimi Raikkonen
  15. Romain Grosjean
  16. Antonio Giovinazzi
  17. Kevin Magnussen
  18. George Russell
  19. Robert Kubica
  20. Max Verstappen (DNF)

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