Japanese GP | Mercedes is the world champion!
The team won the sixth consecutive Constructors’ Championship in a row.
Today in Japan, 4 races before the final of the season-2019, the team from Brackley became the World Champions for the sixth time in a row, winning the race at Suzuka and getting the podium with both cars.
The momentous day in the season has come – Mercedes officially has become the Champions once again. Before the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, it was obvious that the team had 99% of the successful outcome of this weekend, because to mathematically win the title Mercedes just had to win 14 points against Ferrari.
The start of the Grand Prix was as successful as its completion. Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton topped the protocol of Friday's sessions. Moreover, Bottas was the leader of both free practices. Due to weather conditions, Saturday activities on the track were cancelled, and qualifying took place early Sunday morning, 3 hours before the race.
Despite the strong performance on Friday, in quali Lewis and Valtteri didn’t manage to keep two Ferraris behind, and got the second row on the starting grid.
At the start, the race winner Valtteri Bottas made an incredibly aggressive and beautiful maneuver, rapidly overtaking Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton got stuck behind Leclerc, who stayed on the track for a long time with a broken front wing, preventing Hamilton from going ahead and destroying his tyres.
The Strategy and pit stops played a key moment of the race. Both drivers started on Soft. After the first segment on soft tyres, the team first called Valtteri into the pits, who changed the tyres on Medium and returned to the track in P2, right behind his teammate.
Lewis Hamilton went to the boxes on lap 21. The driver also took Medium and back to the track behind Bottas and Vettel. It was clear from Hamilton and the team's radio conversations that the driver was unhappy with the team's choice: Lewis wondered why he was given Medium instead of Hard on which he could drive to the finish; Medium meant another pit stop. Moreover, at that time Lewis was one lap behind Valtteri and Sebastian.
In general, Bottas’ race was quite calm – he had very good pace and speed and was far ahead of the rivals. At least until the second pit stop. Valtteri drove into the pits on lap 36, and returned to the track the second. Hamilton was in front of him again, and the Finn asked the team if Lewis would go to the pits second time. The team gave an answer "Yes". A few laps later, Lewis did go for Soft tyres, after what he found himself on the track behind Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes’ strategy with the second pit stop of the drivers seemed strange to the fans. Many felt that thanks to Lewis' later pit stop (relative to Valtteri’s), the team gave a beautiful victory to Bottas. However, there is a question – why? After all, the team could simply ask Hamilton to skip Bottas if he couldn’t catch up Lewis himself. Moreover, after second stop Lewis was unable to overtake Sebastian Vettel and finished the race in third place. It turns out that the team paid too much for the victory of Bottas, because Mercedes cars could finish in 1-2 positions. Therefore, there is a thought that the Lewis’ tyres were really worn, and Hamilton risked not to go to the finish on Medium or lose the position to Vettel. In any case, at the finish Hamilton was upset by third place.
Nevertheless, Lewis's bad mood quickly changed to a happy one, because his team won another victory in the main battle of the season. The Briton congratulated the team on the title and teammate on the victory, but also noted that despite the early victory there are still races before the end of the season that they need to win.
"I’m so happy for the team – what a great result! Six consecutive double titles is an amazing achievement that has taken a long time and a lot of hard work. It just shows the strength and depth through and through for the team and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of Mercedes history. Valtteri did a great job today and deserved the win, congratulations to him," – Lewis said.
"I think we can expect the next races to be very challenging. We will celebrate this monumental achievement today; but tomorrow we’ll start pushing again – we still have races to win."
The winner of Suzuka race Valtteri Bottas also congratulated the whole team on huge achievement in Formula 1 history and told about his race.
"Six double championships – every single team member at the race track and in the factories can be incredibly proud of this achievement! A big thank you to all of you. I think we don’t quite realise yet what an amazing achievement this is, but we’re making history in this sport. It’s amazing to think that we’ve just done something that’s never been done before – what a great day for all of us!," – Valtteri said.
"I had an excellent start today, one of the best ones in my career, and managed to take the lead in the very beginning. We expected our car to be quick in the race, but it’s really tricky to overtake on this track, so we knew that we’d have to try and take the lead at the start and I’m very glad it all worked out. I really enjoyed the race afterwards; the car felt really good and our upgrades worked well. Suzuka has always been my favourite track even though I’ve never been particularly strong here – but now I like this track even more."