During the season of 2016, Nico Rosberg started from the pole position to later win the race on the Suzuka track. Lewis Hamilton who started the race from P2 finished the race on P3, with Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing ahead of him. Hamilton had a very bad start during this race, as he quickly fell into 8th place due to the fact he was on the wetter side of the starting grid. Sebastian Vettel finished the race on the 4th place, the same he finished the qualifying on, before receiving a three-place grid penalty for a collision he caused in the opening lap of Malaysian GP (he collided with Nico Rosberg, which caused him to spin to the back of the grid. Rosberg finished that race on 2nd place). During the Japanese GP, Vettel was also the one who scored the fastes lap with the time of 1:35.118 (lap 36). Surprisingly, the 2016 GP was finished by all drivers from the grid. Before the race, Nico Rosberg already had a 23 point lead to his Mercedes team mate. Winning of Japanese GP has marked the World Championship for Rosberg – even if Hamilton would win every race till the end of the season with Rosberg finishing second, the Brit would not be able to exceed the points of the German. Rosberg won the championship with a 5 point lead to Hamilton, and the Japanese GP was the last ever pole position for Rosberg before his retirement of December 2016.
The 2017 Japanese GP victory fall into the hands of Lewis Hamilton, after a pretty dramatic sprint of Max Verstappen who finished the race on the 2nd place for the 2nd year in a row. On the 3rd place of the podium we had Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing. Despite 3rd place in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire due to a spark issue in his Ferrari. The new that season teammate of Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, was able to score only 4th after he finished the qualifying on P2. Bottas also established the fastest lap of that race, with the time of 1:33.144 (lap 50). Hamilton began the racing weekend with a 34 point lead over Vettel, which grew to 59 points after the Japanese GP. It basically meant that during the US GP Hamilton needed to score only 16 points more than his German rival to win his 4th World Championship title, which soon after he won.
While talking about the Japanese GP, we cannot miss the less beautiful side of Formula One, as this years round marks 3 years after the deadly crash of one of the most promising young drivers in F1, Jules Bianchi. He crashed at the Suzuka track in 2015 during very bad wet conditions, where he lost control of his car and collided with a recovery vehicle that was at that time retrieving the vehicle of Adrian Sutil. Bianchi died the following year on July 17, 2016. He was the first driver in 21 years to die in an F1 crash since Ayrton Senna's death in 1994.
What will the 2018 Japanese GP bring? The first action on the track begins tomorrow, during the first free practice of this weekend.
Author: Sara Habets