Lewis Hamilton added a third Japanese Grand Prix victory to his tally at Suzuka on Sunday as he easily held off the chasing pack while Nico Rosberg was P2.
The Japanese Grand Prix was decided on the first lap as Hamilton, starting second, took the fight to his team-mate.
Racing side-by-side, swooping through the corner, it initially appeared as if Rosberg was marginally ahead only for the German to run it a bit wide and put two wheels on the grass.
That allowed Hamilton into the lead and from there, there was no stopping him.
Opting for a medium-medium-hard tyre strategy, the Brit raced to his eighth win of this season and in doing so extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 48 points over Rosberg. He won the race by 18.9 seconds over Rosberg.
The German salvaged some pride as he came back from his mistake on the opening lap, which dropped him to fourth, to finish runner-up.
He worked his way back up the order by overtaking Valtteri Bottas in an aggressive move up the inside at the hairpin before passing Sebastian Vettel in the second round of pit stops.
Vettel joined the Mercedes pairing on the podium on an afternoon where Ferrari just did not have the pace to run with Mercedes.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Bottas while Nico Hulkenberg, who started P13, brought his Force India home in sixth place.
It was a solid showing from Lotus who, despite the numerous and very public financial troubles, finished seventh and eighth with Romain Grosjean ahead of Pastor Maldonado.
Max Verstappen was ninth to Carlos Sainz’ tenth having easily overtaken his team-mate on lap 46 of 53. Verstappen was on the options to Sainz’s hards and his tyres were fresher resulting in a very easy pass.
Fernando Alonso finished outside the points in 11th place in what was a frustrating afternoon. He called McLaren’s performance “embarrassing” and their Honda unit a “GP2 engine.” Overtaken too often and too easily, he summed it up with an “urgh.”
It was a dismal afternoon for Red Bull as Daniil Kvyat had car troubles from start to finish while a puncture on lap 1, the result of contract with Felipe Massa, meant Daniel Ricciardo spent his afternoon going nowhere fast. They were P13 and P15 while Massa, who also had a puncture, was 17th.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28:06.508
02 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 18.9
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20.8
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 33.7
05 Valtteri Bottas Williams 36.7
06 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 55.5
07 Romain Grosjean Lotus 72.2
08 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 73.5
09 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 95.3
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1 Lap
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1 Lap
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1 Lap
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 Lap
15 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1 Lap
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1 Lap
17 Felipe Massa Williams 2 Laps
18 Alexander Rossi Manor 2 Laps
19 Will Stevens Manor 3 Laps
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber 4 Laps