Rosberg got away from the start line cleanly and from there was able to control the race and win for a ninth time this season. Hamilton by contrast had too much wheel spin off the line, dropping to eighth. He made up some places in the pit stops, and some on the track with typically aggressive overtakes. Recovering to third is an achievement but leaves Hamilton with a 33-point mountain to climb in the drivers standing.
Nico Rosberg, 1st
“What an awesome weekend! It felt great right from when the lights went green on Friday. I got a good rhythm in practice, had a strong Qualifying, a decent start and then from the lead I was able to control the pace in the race. I had to save my engine a bit as it was my last race in the cycle - but the gap was always safe. I came here to win in Japan and I managed to do so, which is really special. It's a fantastic feeling to win at this legendary race track. Massive congratulations to all of my colleagues here in Japan, back at Brackley and Brixworth, and the hundreds of thousands of Daimler employees out there for the third Constructors' World Championship. A huge thank you to every single person and to every partner who made this possible. They are really the best! They deserve it so much after the unbelievable effort over these past few years, so let's celebrate hard! I might do a little bit of celebrating myself but not too much. The season is not over yet with a few races still to go around the world, so I need to keep my energy up! Thank you so much to everyone out in the crowds this weekend too. The fans here always create a special atmosphere and they've put on such a great show. Arigato! Now we need to focus on the last four races. I look forward to going to America next. See you there!”
Lewis Hamilton, 3rd
“Firstly, I'd like to say a huge congratulations to everyone back at the factories and the whole of Mercedes-Benz. Everyone has done a fantastic job and to have this success three years in a row is incredible. It's been an awesome effort from so many people over the last three years and that is the most important thing to take from today. We couldn't have done it without all of their support and I'm very, very proud to be a part of it. I'm also proud to have been part of the Mercedes-Benz journey since 2007 and then since 2013 with this team. Looking at the race itself, I'm not really quite sure what happened at the start. I'll have to see what the engineers say - but I got the worst getaway I could possibly get. My side wasn't completely dry and there was lots of wheel spin - but that wasn't the whole issue. I lost a lot of ground as everyone else gained traction moving away. It was frustrating, but that's the way it is. These things happen. Then, in the first part of the race, I didn't have the pace of Kimi, so knew I had to go longer and wasn't really trying to attack him in the first part of the race. The second half got a lot more interesting and I was able to pick up some serious pace on the hard tyre. The car was feeling better, I was feeling more comfortable and I was able to overtake people. We put a bit of front wing in and the understeer completely disappeared, so I was able to make my way through the field and close the gap. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take second but I did the best job I could out there today. Every point counts, so I drove my heart out to get as many as possible. Nico did a great job today and he has a healthy margin now, so the Drivers' Championship has got harder for me. I'll give it everything I've got, as I did in the race today and always do. That's all I can do - focus on doing the best that I can - so we'll see what happens. A big thank you to everyone who came out today. The fans were amazing here as always. I'm looking forward to getting home and then moving onto the next race.”
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“It is a great honour today to represent the hundreds of people in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart who have made us triple World Champions. The story begins on the shop floor of our team and goes all the way to the board room of Mercedes-Benz. It is a tale of passion, commitment and incredible people working beyond their limits to win. And not just doing it once, but re-motivating themselves to surpass their achievements year after year. This is their moment - all those heroes in the background who are the core of what makes this team so special. It is a humbling experience to walk the corridors of our factories and to see their faces every day. If I had a hat like Niki's, I would take it off to them. And, okay, it might sound a bit corporate... but we couldn't do it without the support of all the partners who invest in our vision and in our determination to win. Thank you to each and every one for their fantastic contribution to this success.
“Looking back at today's race, so much was decided at the start. Nico got a perfect start, while Lewis suffered on the right-hand side with the damp line but also got a bad getaway. We know that our clutch is tricky to manage and we have not given the drivers the easiest system to use this year. Our first indications suggest that the clutch release was the problem today - but we will look into all the data before reaching a definitive conclusion. After that moment, Nico put in a perfect drive. He managed the gaps, controlled the race and took a really well-deserved win. For Lewis, it was fight-back time and he did that just as well as we know he can. Helped by a great strategy, on a circuit where it's tough to pass, he came back from P8 to P3 in a great drive. It was a fantastic way to win the Championship today, with two cars on the podium. And now, it's finally mathematically between only our two boys. The gap in the Championship is now 33 points and we will let them battle it out in a clean race to the end. If this season has shown one thing, it's that anything can happen and big swings are possible. There are 100 points still to be scored and a lot of racing still to go.”
A good start lifted Verstappen up to second - a position he held for the rest of the race, despite some late pressure from Hamilton. Ricciardo was delayed at the start by having to avoid the slow moving Mercedes, and from there couldn't match his team mate's pace, spending much of the race battling Raikkonen and the Force Indias.
Max Verstappen, 2nd
“We knew the start was going to be very decisive and we had a really good one today which allowed me to settle into my own rhythm. I’m pleased the starts are coming together, that’s two in a row now. I was then able to sit behind Nico (Rosberg) and control my tyres. The team gave me a really strong strategy, along with a car that felt very balanced so I was able to enjoy a successful race. I was really happy to be able to get in-between the two Mercedes cars, it is a great result yet again for the team. In the race we had quick pace but I think Nico was still only cruising. When I sped up Nico could match it and if I slowed he did also, he was in control. Lewis (Hamilton) was obviously a bit quicker in the final stages and I knew he was going to catch me, the gap time on the pit board was dropping every lap. Into the last chicane I saw him coming in my mirrors so I defended my position, this allowed me to hang on for the second place. I had some concerns about the blue flags, I think we need to talk about it. I have been in the same situation last year and earlier this year, I understand from their (back-markers) perspective you want to race but the guys lapping you are racing for a podium so you have to have a different approach."
Daniel Ricciardo, 6th
“Today wasn’t a very exciting race for me, and unfortunately it just wasn’t my day. Kimi’s (Raikkonen) penalty was a bit of a bummer for us as it put us on the wet side of the grid and that compromised the start. I don’t think my launch was too bad but Lewis obviously struggled to get off the line and I had to go around him through the wet and that made me lose a place to Sergio (Perez). Seb (Vettel) had a good exit out of Turn 14 and made quick work of me on the straight, then he caught Perez quickly as well. That sort of shaped the first stint for me. We struggled to stay close to the cars in front as we couldn’t follow them in the dirty air, and we didn’t have the straight line speed to make an attack. We struggled in the traffic and fell behind the eight ball. In the final stint towards the end I had a clear track and I was able put in some good laps but it wasn’t enough. I’m not going to get too down about it. I didn’t think there was anything else we could have done today, it was just circumstances and how the race panned out. We’ll come back in Austin ready to have a good weekend on track and also eat plenty of barbeque. I’m going to diet for the next few days so I arrive lighter in Austin and can enjoy the local food!”
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A fantastic drive by Max today. A very mature performance, moving into second place and then really looking after his tyres resisting pressure initially from Sebastian and then at the end of the race from Lewis, with some great racing. It was fantastic to see him split the Mercedes and achieve our eighth 2nd place of the year. For Daniel it was a harder race, he struggled in particular it seemed in sector two of the circuit and we need to look at the data very closely to understand why. He was disadvantaged at the start, beginning on the damp side of the track but nonetheless he drove a very controlled race to bring the car home in sixth and secure valuable points towards our position in the Constructors’ Championship. Our congratulations go to Mercedes for securing their third consecutive Championship, a fine achievement.”
Grosjean lost a couple of places at the start but remained in the top-ten for the early part of the race. Battling the one-stopping Williams, the Frenchman had fresher tyres at the end and closed to within one second of Bottas but ran out of laps and came home 11th. Gutierrez's race was ruined by a spin while battling Sainz which dropped him to the back of the field.
Romain Grosjean, 11th
“Well, we struggled on the first stint with a green track, and with the soft tyres, we had a lot of graining. But then the car was flying. It was really good. I had some good overtakes. I don’t think I’ve ever been as frustrated as today at the end of a race. I thought we deserved much more. With the pace of the car, I was much faster than the Williams’. We just got the life on the hard tyres wrong. We could have pitted earlier for the last stint, but overall the pace was amazing. It shows a lot of promise for the future. I’m optimistic about these updates and the pace we had in the car.”
Esteban Gutierrez, 20th
“Everything started pretty good. We’ve been working a lot on getting the best out of our start and today that proved to be better. On the first stint, things were going well. We were managing the gap, pushing to get higher up to the front of the grid. I then came into the pits and I ended back out behind a lot of traffic, and that was it. I was trying to push forward, trying to overtake, and then I had an incident with Carlos (Sainz). He braked a bit early, closing the door, and I had nowhere to go as I was preparing the corner to overtake him on the straight. After that, I had some damage on the front wing which wasn’t ideal. Unfortunately, this is how the race went. It was not what we wanted, but now we need to keep pushing and keep a good rhythm and really put in a good performance as we head to our home race in Texas.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Not really the race we wanted today finishing 11th again with one car and 20th with the other having started seventh and 10th. I think a few things happened today – everyone else had a good race and everybody finished, so nobody dropped out. We tried to take the fight to the Williams, but we didn’t manage it in the end. They were able to make a better strategy by starting on tyres they wanted, but that’s racing. This weekend we’ve seen that our car shows speed and we were also competitive in the race. So, we’re able to take that away from here.”
Starting outside the top ten, Williams opted for medium tyres for both their drivers. This enabled Massa and Bottas to one-stop, which paid off as they both came home in the points, separated by less than 0.6s. But with Perez and Hulkenberg finishing ahead, they have lost ground to Force India in the constructors' championship.
Felipe Massa, 9th
"It was a tough race. We were really fighting from the beginning, to the end. We lost two positions at the start with both cars, maybe due to the tyres we had compared to the others. The pace at the beginning didn’t look very promising compared to the others. We tried to stay out long to do a one-stop, and it worked out. We would love to have finished ahead of Force India, but today they had a better car. We managed to score points with both cars after being just 13th and 14th during the first stint. I think it was a positive race and the strategy worked out very well."
Valtteri Bottas, 10th
"As a team strategy-wise, we managed to do something different to our competitors so that was good. There definitely wasn’t any more we could have got out of today. In a nutshell, we need to make a quicker car and hope that the rest of the circuits in the calendar are better suited to us. We just didn’t have the pure pace today. From my side, being the lead car in the first stint I was hoping for the better strategy out of the two of us but that didn’t work out today. Looking ahead to Austin, I hope it’s better and more like Malaysia in terms of our pace in comparison to Force India. It’s just so difficult to predict these things nowadays, so we need to learn from today and hopefully we’ll perform better there in two weeks."
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering
"Quite honestly, with the car and the pace we had this weekend that was pretty much all we could have done as a team. We played a risky strategy in order to get ourselves in the points and we got three points in the end. The team can be reasonably proud. We’ve acquitted ourselves well. It’s a shame for Valtteri because he had that ninth position in hand ahead of Felipe, and so we were keeping him out longer to give him better tyres towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, the stop was slower than our usual and he came out behind Felipe. Apart from that, I think the team has done a good job with no mistakes and we’ve pushed on to where we could be in this race. The overriding point is that the car just wasn’t quick enough and that has been the biggest disappointment of the weekend in both qualifying and the race. However, we’ve got four races left. We need to regroup, and understand how we are going to get some more performance out of the car for the remaining races. We will push forward and will not give up."
Button started at the back of the grid due to his engine change, and struggled to make early headway on the harder compound. He made the softer tyre work better, but could only climb as high as P18. Alonso similarly had his work cut out at a track that didn't suit the MP4-31, coming home 16th.
Fernando Alonso, 16th
“Our race today reflected the whole weekend: it was just anonymous.
“To finish 16th and 18th today is a rather nasty surprise, especially after finishing seventh in Singapore, and seventh and ninth in Malaysia, just last weekend.
“I hope this was an exceptional and unique event, and that we’ll return to business as usual at the next race, in Austin. “It was clear that the layout of the track didn’t suit our package – we lacked downforce through the faster corners.
“I know our car is in fact much more competitive than we were able to show today, and I’m obviously disappointed about putting on such a poor show at Honda’s home race. But we’ll head back home, analyse what happened, and bounce back from this disappointment.”
Jenson Button, 18th
“I made a poor start – the [power unit] components in the back of the car were all-new, so I got massive wheelspin and was therefore somewhat left behind on the start-line. Then it was really difficult to get past the Manors – they’d started the race on the Option tyre, and I was on the Back-Up, so it was hard to make a move stick.
“I eventually got past them though and, despite racing with the backmarkers, I still had some fun out there – a few little battles – but we were a long way behind the points-scorers.
“It’s been a very tough weekend – it’s a shame that Suzuka is our bogey track because it’s our second home. Still, we have to take the rough with the smooth: we haven’t been quick here, but we hope to be quicker at the next race.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“There’s no point denying that we’re thoroughly disappointed, because we are.
“Having scored points with both cars last weekend in Malaysia, to finish 16th and 18th here in Japan is hard to take, frankly.
“However, such is the esprit de corps and will to win that now characterise all who work for both McLaren and Honda, as one unified racing force, that we’ll put this forgettable weekend behind us straight away and refocus our attentions and ambitions on the next race: the United States Grand Prix at Austin.
“But before we do so, I want to pay tribute to the Suzuka fans, who are amongst the most devoted and enthusiastic in the world. As ever, they came out in force today – many of them in support of their home team, McLaren-Honda – and we would dearly love to have been able to give them something better to cheer about than in the end we did.
“Next year we will.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“We expected a difficult race today, as the results of Friday and Saturday were less than ideal, and the Suzuka circuit is a very difficult place at which to gain positions unless you start from a good grid slot.
“Also, we weren’t able to gain places at the start, so, for the majority of the race, both drivers had to battle at the back of the field, and weren’t close to the points-scoring positions.
“In this long F1 calendar, we have good and bad results that we have to cope with, but the results of this weekend were very disappointing, especially knowing that there were so many fans here to support us.
“We will accept the results today, analyse the data, regroup and hope to return to scoring points at the next race, in the USA.”
A good start by both cars saw them running 11th and 12th, with points looking possible. Kvyat tried an aggressive second stint on the soft tyres, but was held up by traffic. He finished a credible 13th. Sainz dropped 13 places in his first pit stop and spent the rest of the race battling Button and blue flags.
Daniil Kvyat, 13th
“A P13 was the maximum we could do today, I really don’t think we could’ve done much better. Nothing extraordinary happened today, there were no Safety Car periods or retirements, so we didn’t gain any positions that way either. Our straight-line speed is just nowhere, which is very unfortunate, but there’s not much more we can do, we’re just too slow. On the positive side, I feel better in the car race after race and our team work is constantly improving, so we will go on doing our best to finish the season knowing that we couldn’t have done more!”
Carlos Sainz, 17th
“A very disappointing race for me today. Even if we started well, managing to get past both Williams and enjoying a good race pace during the first stint, that all changed after the first pit-stop. We then dropped behind the two McLarens and from that point onwards our race was over, as we were just not able to overtake because of our low top-speed… It was just impossible! I can assure you I tried my best, but today we couldn’t do more than this. It’s a frustrating situation to be in but we won’t give up. We will now get ready for the next races where hopefully we can be a bit stronger – rainy Sundays would also help!”
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“Starting from P13 and P14 made it a difficult race for us today. We simply don’t have the speed on the straight lines, something you certainly need to perform well. Both drivers did a good start and after the first lap we moved up to P11 and P12. Our pit-stops were also carried out well, but we lost time in traffic and therefore we were only able to finish 13th and 17th. Fortunately, neither Haas nor McLaren scored any points, but of course the last four races of the season won’t be easy for us, because all the others made steps forward with the development of their Power Units – as we are out with last years’ specification, we simply face a disadvantage regarding speed… We just have to be focused and finish the season in a reasonably good way.”
Ocon and Wehrlein were engaged in a private battle at the back of the field. They had the same strategy, both started on the softs and two-stopped for the harder compound. In the end it was the Frenchman who came home ahead, although there was very little to separate the two.
Esteban Ocon, 21st
“Well, we struggled a bit with the pace but I think we had a better strategy this time. A few more laps and I think I could have got close enough to Esteban Gutierrez to pass him.
“We keep making progress, always getting closer to the competition, which is good. Now we need to take some time to have a good look at all the data we’ve gathered - where we’re missing something, where we can improve - but what I can do also. There are only four races left and they will pass by quickly, but also four races is a lot of opportunities to improve and we have a lot to fight for, still.”
Pascal Wehrlein, 22nd
“It ended up being a really difficult race. We struggled with the pace, we struggled with the blue flags – struggled generally today. There isn’t much more to say than that.
“We’ve made some good steps and improved the car, so we just need to work with what we have to find more performance from the package and keep making that progress. We’re not far away, but that’s not where we want to be.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director
“On the face of it, not a race to particularly write home about, but we do leave the Far East with another two-car finish, having maintained our position in the championship. These last three races have been pretty tough, but we head home from Japan looking forward to the final four events of the season, starting in Austin in two weeks’ time. In the meantime, congratulations to our powertrain partner, Mercedes-Benz, on securing the triple - a very impressive performance.”
A great start by Perez propelled him up to third, a position he couldn't hold for long with faster cars coming through. Hulkenberg also jumped three places at the start, and the two cars remained in the top ten for the rest of the race. Hulkenberg pulled off one of the overtakes of the race, breezing past Bottas round the outside into the chicane. The German clearly enjoyed the move, with a cool "see you later" expressed over the radio.
Sergio Perez, 7th
“I enjoyed myself today and I feel we made all the right decisions during the race. The start was good fun – I had a clean run going into turn one and ended up in third place. I tried my best to hold on to the position, but I knew it would be difficult to keep some very quick cars behind me so I needed to be sensible and choose my battles. Our car was very quick today and the two-stop strategy was definitely the correct one for us. It meant we needed to overtake the Williams cars on the track because they were on a different strategy, but fortunately I could make the moves on them very quickly. The end of the race, after all the pit stops, was just a case of looking after the tyres and keeping out of trouble. We scored some very useful points today – we need to keep doing the same in the final four races.”
Nico Hülkenberg, 8th
“I am quite happy with my race: seventh would have been possible, but I paid the price of not having an ideal qualifying session yesterday. I had a good first lap, but when you start from the back of the top ten, you have a lot more traffic to deal with and that cost me some time. The pass on Valtteri [Bottas] was the highlight of my race. I had lined up a pass the lap before, but didn’t get a good exit from the final corner and I missed out in turn one; so I told myself “if I can’t get you here, I’ll get you at the chicane instead!” I pulled the move off nicely; it was a close wheel-to-wheel battle. It was important to finish with two cars well inside the points, but we know every race and every point will count from here onwards because the battle in the championship will go down to the final race. It’s going to be good fun and it’s a nice challenge.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“We leave Japan feeling satisfied with our performance across the whole weekend. We qualified well, which allowed us to execute the optimal two-stop strategy with both cars. Seventh and eighth was the most we could realistically hope to achieve given the reliability of the cars at the front of the field, so it’s rewarding to bring home ten important points. It was very enjoyable watching Checo and Nico involved in several close fights in the early laps. They pulled off some exciting moves – which were very important because they enabled the strategy to play out in our favour. With four races to go, we must maximise our potential at every event because there’s still a long way to the end of the season.”
Palmer backed up his performance from Malaysia with another solid drive to finish in 12th position. With both cars one-stopping, there was an outside chance of points but with no race retirees, the top ten was just out of reach.
Kevin Magnussen, 14th
“I started the race on hard tyres against others around me on the softs and mediums – it was always going to be tough today. We can’t be completely satisfied with today’s race after scoring points in the last two races but we will work hard to get back into point-scoring position in the coming races. The next round is in the USA and it’s a pretty cool track to drive so I look forward to being there next.”
Jolyon Palmer, 12th
“Tenth last week, twelfth this week, but this week everyone finished the race ! We had a lot of luck last week and I think today was actually a stronger performance. We beat everyone that we could this afternoon. I’m pleased with how we went, the strategy, the pace, performance… Everything was good.”
Fred Vasseur, Team Principal
“It was a good weekend for us in terms of performance, with our best Free Practice 3 to-date where we were in the top ten. Qualifying, however, was a bit disappointing. Of course Jolyon got into Q2, but I think that we could have done better overall on Saturday afternoon. Our race pace was similar again to what we had seen in FP3 ; we fought with Williams in terms of pace until the end of the race and we were in front of McLaren and Toro Rosso. Today’s race confirmed that we have gone a step forward in pure performance, despite a tricky qualifying session on Saturday. Overall the weekend has been encouraging and both drivers did a solid job in the race with a strategy that worked well for the team.”
Vettel got an excellent start to jump up to fourth, before overtaking Perez to run third for much of the race. He lost that position to a fast-charging Hamilton during the second round of pit stops. Despite an aggressive strategy that saw him fit soft tyres for the final stint, he was unable to get close enough to the Briton to pass. Raikkonen was battling Ricciardo for much of the day, but a good turn of speed towards the end of the race helped him come home in fifth place.
Kimi Raikkonen, 5th
"After a good qualifying yesterday, the issue with the gearbox and the consequent starting position change was not ideal in this kind of track. Obviously there's a lot of disappointment, as we had a good car and if we could have stayed in front we would have fought with more free air and with a lot of speed. I had a good start but then I got stuck behind other people: it was really tricky to follow other cars and it affected quite a bit the behavior. It was also difficult to stay close to them and attack them. Once we got past them and I was on my own, the car was quick and handling well. For sure today we were fast enough for a better result. Unfortunately that's how it goes..."
Sebastian Vettel, 4th
"We had a very good start and made good progress in the first two laps, passing Ricciardo and Perez, then we were faster than Verstappen. I think today we had the second fastest car. So it was a question of time, but obviously Max came in as soon as he could to maintain track position, which worked well for him. We tried to go on the softer tire in the end, which initially we thought would work well, but then we had too much degradation and we were falling off this group. It is always easy to criticize, and I am sure there are many 'experts' that knew better, but on the pitwall as well as in the car, I was keen to go for this strategy so to extend the second stint. It's a fact I lost big chunks of time with the blue flags. I always got the lapped cars right in sector one, when they can't move, so I was losing a lot of time, and there's probably where I lost track position to Lewis, who always seemed to clear the lapped cars in the straight. But then the pace wouldn't have probably been enough to challenge for the podium."
Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal
"Considering our starting position, being pushed back by a double penalty, we did the best we could today. It's just a shame that the traffic from backmarkers did not allow Seb to take the best out of our strategy."
Ericsson and Nasr both adopted a one-stop strategy, Nasr starting on the hard tyres, Ericsson the mediums. The Swede got past Magnussen at the start and was able to extract more from his tyres than his team mate, who flat spotted his after locking up, hampering his stint.
Marcus Ericsson, 15th
“For me it was a decent race. My start was not too bad, and I gained one position moving up to P17. My first stint on the medium tyres was also ok, as I was hanging on to Jolyon (Palmer) ahead of me. Overall, I believe we chose the right strategy. Finishing in P15 is a better result compared to my starting position (P18). We still need to find more pace to fight for points.”
Felipe Nasr, 19th
“A disappointing race after an overall difficult weekend. The first stint on hard tyres was ok. I braked a bit too late into Turn 11, which caused me to flat spot the tyres. That forced me to pit a bit earlier than originally planned. When I then came in for the pit stop, I lost some time when pulling out as the clutch did not seem ready to disengage. The gap to the group ahead increased, as some blue flags also compromised my race pace.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal
“Our starting positions led into a difficult race. Therefore, it was important to choose strategies which were different to those of the other competitors. In order to make a one-stop strategy work, it was mainly up to the drivers. In that sense, Marcus put in a flawless performance and was able to keep some of our direct competitors behind him. On hard tyres, Felipe was able to remain in his position after the race start. Later on he had to box a bit earlier than planned after braking too late and flat spotting his tyres.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director
“There was plenty of overtaking and tactics at work in Suzuka, with the three compounds we made available providing a wide variety of options when it came to how to run the strategy. The dry weather and absence of safety cars meant that we had two stops for most of the field, but there were some other options that worked well too, including a one-stopper at one of the most demanding circuits of the year in terms of tyre usage. Congratulations to Mercedes for another constructors’ title.”