Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg capitalized on a slow start by teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday and widen his lead in the Formula One drivers’ championship.
Rosberg, who started from pole position, controlled the race throughout and finished 4.9 seconds ahead of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who held off Hamilton in close racing over the final few laps.
With four races remaining Rosberg holds a 33-point lead over Hamilton.
The result clinched the constructors’ championship for Mercedes for the third year running.
Hamilton, who started second, made another of the poor starts which has been among Mercedes few weak points this season, and dropped back to eighth on the opening lap.
The defending world champion worked his way through the field well. Desperately needing points to keep close to Rosberg in the championship race, Hamilton attempted to pass Verstappen on the penultimate lap.
Exiting the Spoon curve just 0.5 seconds back, the Briton tried a move into the chicane but Verstappen blocked his path, and Hamilton was forced up an escape road. Hamilton complained over his team radio that the Dutchman had made his move too late under braking.
It was Rosberg’s ninth victory of the season and 23rd in F1, moving the German driver into a tie for 12th place on the all-time list with Nelson Piquet. Rosberg started the previous two races at Suzuka from pole position only to be overtaken by Hamilton.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel finished fourth ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull, who won the previous race in Malaysia.
Every driver finished the race, only the seventh time in 952 world championship races that has happened.