Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Hamilton beats Rosberg to win Japanese Grand Prix

AP, SUZUKA, Japan

Lewis Hamilton won a rain-shortened Japanese Grand Prix yesterday, claiming his third straight Formula One victory and widening his lead over teammate Nico Rosberg in the race for the drivers’ championship.

With Hamilton leading Rosberg, a red flag came out on the 44th of 53 laps due to a crash involving Marussia driver Jules Bianchi. Race officials elected not to restart the race and Hamilton was declared the winner. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished third.

The race celebrations were subdued as Bianchi was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

“Once I was able to get past Nico, I was just able to enjoy the ride,” Hamilton said. “It was a great result for the team, but obviously I am very concerned about Bianchi right now.”

Hamilton now leads Rosberg by 10 points with four races remaining.

The rain also disrupted the early stages of the race, with the first nine laps run behind the safety car. After the rain abated and the safety car came off, Hamilton did everything possible to gain on his teammate, who started from pole.

Rosberg held the lead until the 29th lap, when Hamilton got a better run onto the pit straight and blasted around the outside of Rosberg into Turn 1 to take the lead for good.

“I had a lot more pace than Nico,” Hamilton said. “It’s not an easy circuit to follow on, but I was able to get close and with DRS was able to get side-by-side and put it in there.”

The race stopped after 44 laps after Bianchi went off at Turn 7 and crashed. He was taken to hospital and is unconscious according to FIA spokesman Matteo Bonciani.

The race started as scheduled but with the rain getting stronger, the drivers could only complete two cautious laps behind the safety car.

After a 10-minute delay, the race re-started behind the safety car, but Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari ground to a halt with a technical problem. The Spaniard returned to his garage and threw up his arms in frustration as his day was done.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is a distant third in the drivers’ standings, finished fourth ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button.

Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa started third and fourth, but both struggled badly in wet conditions and trailed home sixth and seventh.

It was not the first time rain affected the race at Suzuka. In 2004, Saturday’s qualifying session was postponed until race day after torrential rain hit the area.

The next stop on the Formula One calendar is the inaugural Russian GP on Oct. 12, in Sochi, the Black Sea resort that hosted this year’s Winter Olympics.

Beginning this year, a win at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Nov. 23 will be worth 50 points instead of the normal 25 in the hopes of adding more suspense to the season’s finale.

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