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GP Week : Issue 192
Mercedes run of poor form continued in suzuka, with Lewis Hamilton failing to finish and Nico Rosberg's race marred by mishandled pit stops and on-track altercations. Making a superb start from third on the grid, Hamilton got a run on both RB9s, but the Mercedes driver found himself squeezed between the Red Bulls as the pair tried to recover from twin poor starts. Mark Webber moved right, forcing Hamilton to do the same, and the result was contact with Sebastian Vettel, whose front wing sliced through Hamilton's right rear tyre, giving the Briton the unenviable task of coasting for a whole lap before he could return to the pits. “I feel most gutted for the team – the guys here at the track and in the factory – because they are doing an amazing job right now and we're just not getting the reward for it,” said Hamilton after the race. Hamilton returned to the track after a quick stop, but with vastly changed handling characteristics. Describing his car as “all over the place,” Hamilton was losing close to one second per lap to the leading pack and the decision was taken to retire the car. Nico Rosberg faired only marginally better when he was released from of his pit box into the path of Sergio Perez, forcing the McLaren driver to take evasive action before entering his own box. The move earned Rosberg a drive-through penalty that ironically brought him right back behind Perez, who was clearly still disgruntled by the earlier incident. On the run out of 130R, Rosberg got a tow from the McLaren and swept to the left in an attempt to undercut Perez and gain track position as the chicane changed direction. Perez, however, was having none of it and cut across the Mercedes nose before Nico could execute the move. Rosberg was less than complimentary of Perez's tactics going into the chicane. “I made a good start today and was in a strong position until my first pit stop,” he said. “Unfortunately we then had the incident as I left the pit box which ultimately cost me a top position. I wasn't happy with Perez as the rules are clear; you can defend once and close the door but you can't switch sides again.” Mercedes misery in Mie 35 GPWEEK.com // 35 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> JAPAN