Suzuka : Nico Rosberg romped to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, piling more pressure on Lewis Hamilton as he closes in on a first Formula One world title.
Rosberg claimed his first Suzuka win from pole as Hamilton took third after a horror start, the German stretching his lead over his Mercedes rival to 33 points with just four races left this season.
“Woooooooh!” cried Rosberg over team radio after his ninth victory of 2016 and his fourth in the last five races.
“Thanks a lot, guys. An Amazing weekend and congrats on winning the constructors (championship),” he added after he and Hamilton wrapped up a third successive team title for Mercedes.
“It’s 33 points, but I’m not focused on that. There’s still a long way to go so I’m just keeping my head down.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held off a furious challenge from world champion Hamilton in the final few laps to take second place, five seconds back, after his runner-up finish in Malaysia last weekend.
The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen came home fourth and fifth after both drivers turned the air blue over the radio, complaining about backmarkers.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who inherited victory in Sepang after Hamilton’s engine caught fire, took sixth ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas finished ninth and 10th on a one-stop strategy. Hamilton, who has now failed to win since Hockenheim at the end.