Hamilton wins red-flagged Japanese Grand Prix

Suzuka race overshadowed by an accident involving Jules Bianchi.

Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead over Nico Rosberg to 10 points with victory in a rain-lashed, shortened Japanese Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg finished second, with Sebastian Vettel third. The race was marred by a heavy accident involving Marussia’s Jules Bianchi.

With heavy rain falling before the start, the race began under the safety car but was quickly halted as conditions became undriveable. The cars were guided to pit lane where the field awaited a restart.

That came after a 20-minute delay, with the cars again taking to the track behind the safety car. It was during this period that fifth-on-the-grid Fernando Alonso’s race came to an end. The Ferrari driver had a sudden power loss due to electrical problems and he was forced to pull over and quit the race.

With the rain abating, drivers began to radio through that the track was almost good enough to swap from the starting wet tyres mandated by officials because of the conditions to intermediate rubber.

The safety car left the circuit after nine laps and by lap 11 the field began to dive towards pit lane for intermediate tyres. First in was McLaren’s Jenson Button and his quick thinking allowed him to leap up the order. After the stops had played out, Rosberg led with a two-second advantage over Hamilton, with Button now third, having started from eighth on the grid.

Behind him were the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa but with the FW36 looking ungainly in the wet, they were being quickly chased down by the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth and seventh respectively.

Vettel passed Massa for fifth on lap 16 with a deft move at the hairpin and then repeated the move on Bottas two laps later. Ricciardo wasn’t about to be left out and made his own perhaps bolder move, passing the Williams with moves around the outside through the ‘esses’ on laps 17 and 19.

Ahead, Rosberg was complaining of sever issues with oversteer and when DRS was enabled in the improving conditions on lap 25 it was the cue for Hamilton to make a sustained assault on Rosberg’s lead. The championship leader eventually swept past his team-mate into Turn One on lap 29 under DRS. He immediately began to pull out a gap and it was clear that the battle for the lead was over.

Behind them Vettel made an early second stop, looking to undercut third-placed Button. McLaren responded and brought the Briton in. However a problem with the front right wheel saw Button stationary for too long and Vettel and Ricciardo swept by to relegate the McLaren man to fifth.

Ricciardo ran a longer second stint, but it seemed to provide little advantage and when he eventually made his second stop he was passed by Button. However, he quickly used his pace advantage to close on the Englishman.

The McLaren driver defended bravely for several laps and that allowed Vettel ahead to pull out a decent gap, which surely frustrated Riccirado.

The Australian eventually moved past Button on lap 44 but by that time Vettel was five seconds up the road and it seemed the four-time Japanese Grand Prix winner had done enough to take third place.

On the previous lap, Adrian Sutil had gone off track at Turn Seven and a recovery vehicle went to the scene to remove his stranded Sauber. A lap later, however, Bianchi went off at the same location and appeared to collide with the recovery vehicle. The safety car was dispatched, along with the medical car.

Vettel pitted under the safety car for new intermediate tyres and rejoined behind Ricciardo. However with an ambulance also now on track the race was red-flagged on lap 47 of the allotted 53 and the cars guided back to pit lane. It was soon announced that there would be no resumption.

With the result counted back to the end of the penultimate lap before the red flag was shown (thus, to lap 44) the order saw Hamilton take his eighth win of the season ahead of Rosberg, with Vettel third. Fourth place went to Ricciardo, with Button fifth ahead of Bottas, Massa, Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne, who put in an excellent drive to rise from 20th to ninth. The final point was taken by Force India’s Sergio Perez.

Bianchi was quickly taken to hospital by ambulance. An update on his condition is expected shortly.

2014 Japanese Grand Prix – Race Result1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 44 1:51:43.021 2 252 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 44 +9.1 secs 1 183 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 44 +29.1 secs 9 154 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 44 +38.8 secs 6 125 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 44 +67.5 secs 8 106 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 44 +113.7 secs 3 87 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 44 +115.1 secs 4 68 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 44 +115.9 secs 13 49 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 44 +127.6 secs 20 210 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 43 +1 Lap 11 111 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 43 +1 Lap 1212 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 43 +1 Lap 1013 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 43 +1 Lap 1514 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 43 +1 Lap 715 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 43 +1 Laps 1616 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 43 +1 Lap 2217 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 43 +1 Lap 1718 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 43 +1 Lap 2119 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 43 +1 Lap 1920 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 41 Accident 1821 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 40 Accident 14Ret 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2 Electronics 5

Drivers' championship

1 Lewis Hamilton 2662 Nico Rosberg 2563 Daniel Ricciardo 1934 Sebastian Vettel 1395 Fernando Alonso 1336 Valtteri Bottas 1307 Jenson Button 828 Nico Hulkenberg 769 Felipe Massa 7110 Sergio Perez 4611 Kimi Raikkonen 4512 Kevin Magnussen 3913 Jean-Eric Vergne 2114 Romain Grosjean 815 Daniil Kvyat 816 Jules Bianchi 217 Adrian Sutil 018 Marcus Ericsson 019 Pastor Maldonado 020 Esteban Gutierrez 021 Max Chilton 022 Kamui Kobayashi 0

Constructors' Cahmpionship

1 Mercedes 5222 Red Bull/Renault 3323 Williams/Mercedes 2014 Ferrari 1785 Force India/Mercedes 1226 McLaren/Mercedes 1217 Toro Rosso/Renault 298 Lotus/Renault 89 Marussia/Ferrari 210 Sauber/Ferrari 011 Caterham/Renault 0

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