Valtteri Bottas jumped from third to first with an electric start to win the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and the Finn’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc finished sixth in the second Ferrari, and with only Bottas now able to overtake Hamilton in the standings, that means Mercedes clinched an unprecedented sixth successive drivers’-constructors’ world championship double.
“I’m happy, very happy,” said the flying Finn Bottas, who ended a six-month wait for his third victory of 2019 after winning the season-opener in Australia and the Azerbaijan race in April.
“Starting third isn’t easy. I had a really nice start, managed to get the lead and then the pace was super good, I could really control the race,” he added.
“I’m really proud to be part of the team. A sixth title is really impressive.”
“Firstly congratulations to the team,” said Hamilton, who now leads the drivers’ standings by 64 points from Bottas. “That’s the main point. I just wanted to bring home good points for the team.”
Ferrari had enjoyed a front row lock-out in a rare morning qualifying session caused by Typhoon Hagibis but their race unravelled right at the start.
Vettel twitched before the lights went out and his hesitation enabled the fast-starting Bottas to leapfrog from third into the lead.
“It was my mistake,” admitted Vettel. “It was worse than a poor start, it was a really poor start. With the lack of pace today, second place today was probably the maximum.”
Results from Japan Formula One Grand Prix
1. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes-AMG) 307 km in 1hr 23min 21.510sec
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) at 11.376
3. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes-AMG) at 11.786
4. Alexander Albon (THA/Red Bull-Honda) at 1:01.152
5. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/McLaren-Renault) at 1:09.081 — AFP.