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GP Week : Issue 229
aggressive rather than reacting as events unfold around them. Rosberg then used his car speed to leapfrog Sebastian Vettel for second place at the next round of stops, but with Hamilton controlling the pace out front that was as far as he was ever going to get. There was a kerfuffle further back, with Felipe Massa slow to get away before making contact with Daniel Ricciardo. It wasn't a particularly hefty touch but it was enough to damage Massa's rim and give both drivers a puncture, deflating their hopes of a solid result. Ricciardo limped back to the pits with a flat left rear and damage to his floor while Massa limped around with a punctured right front and broken wing, losing a lap in the process. Neither would play any real part in proceedings. Nor would Sergio Perez, who was boxed in behind Massa at the first corner with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz inside him. When the three turned into the corner there was contact, lifting Perez's car off the road and firing it off across the gravel where he too collected a puncture. All this was good news for Fernando Alonso, who moved for ward well in the early laps as others fell off the track in front of him, but the lack of power from the Honda engine became painfully apparent. Both Alonso and teammate Jenson Button were sitting ducks in a straight line, Button being passed on both sides heading down the front straight by Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen. A very frustrated Alonso made his feelings more than clear over the radio, branding the Honda power unit a "GP2 engine." There was little action towards the front of the race, a mixture of tyre strategies just outside the top ten creating the most entertaining racing. Looking to protect track position, Sauber had pitted Marcus Ericsson out of sequence, leaving the Swede a long run to the finish. A train formed behind him but even then there was little in the way of real action, simply cars driving in procession - one after the other for the most part. The Red Bull's of Daniil Kvyat and the recovering Ricciardo were at no point a feature, nor was Perez - despite all three driving cars capable of qualifying inside the top ten. In short, the Japanese Grand Prix was one of the most uneventful of the season. Lewis Hamilton won't mind though, nor will Mercedes, as they chalked up another 1-2 result. For Hamilton it meant moving the championship lead back out to 48 points over Rosberg with Vettel another 11 points further back. Though there are 125 points still available, Hamilton can afford to trail his Mercedes teammate home for the rest of the season and still claim his third world title. It also saw Hamilton claim his 41st career victory, equalling his idol, Ayrton Senna. 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> JAPAN PARTNERS: