Mercedes secured their sixth straight constructors’ title as Valtteri Bottas secured victory from third on the grid at the Japanese Grand Prix.
With teammate Lewis Hamilton securing third and the bonus point for fastest lap, the points haul was enough to ensure the Silver Arrows won’t be caught in the team standings.
Sebastian Vettel finished in between the Mercedes cars, but teammate Charles Leclerc dropped down the order after the chequered flag due to two time penalties following an early incident with Max Verstappen.
We’ll have to wait a little longer for the final classification though, as the FIA has seized parts from Renaults cars following a protest from Racing Point relating to the legality of the French manufacturer’s brakes.
3 Legs 4 Wheels looks at what the drivers had to say following the events at Suzuka.
Valtteri Bottas – 1st (Mercedes):
“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. We’ve had a really good season so far and managed to make the most of our opportunities, especially in the beginning of the season. 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!
“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. It’s been a while since my last victory, I missed that winning feeling and I’m very happy and proud to have won the race that secured us the Constructors’ Championship.”
Toto Wolff – Team Principal (Mercedes):
“When we embarked on the journey six or seven years ago we wanted to win races more regularly and then fight for a Championship – and now, six years later, we win our sixth Championship in a row. We never thought this would be possible and I’m incredibly happy for everybody who has been a part of this journey. It’s not always been easy, the entire team put in a lot of hard work and we had our fair share of painful moments, but we were always able to pick ourselves up. Everyone in Brackley and Brixworth worked incredibly hard for this achievement and I can’t thank them enough. We also could not have done this without the continued support from Daimler and PETRONAS who have always been by our side. This sixth Championship is a very special one – and we dedicate it to Niki. He has been such an important part from the beginning, and we all miss him dearly. I think about him every day and still find it hard to believe that he’s not here anymore; I keep thinking to myself “What would Niki say, what would he think?”. Today, he probably would have said “Congratulations for the sixth one, but you have a challenge on your hands for next year”. It was his way of making sure that we’re never complacent. Today has been an emotional rollercoaster; we were disappointed in the morning because we weren’t quick enough in qualifying. And now we’ve won the race and also both Championships – which is still hard to fully grasp.”
Sebastian Vettel – 2nd (Ferrari):
“We had a very good morning, but the afternoon was less good in terms of the result we were able to achieve as a team. The start wasn’t good for either me or Charles and without that, we could have had both cars fighting at the front. It was difficult today and to be fair. Our rivals were simply quicker, Valtteri was just flying. I had a poor start, I was a bit early with the clutch initially then clutched in again and lost a bit of momentum. Usually our starts are very good but not this time. After that we were missing out a little bit in terms of speed in the race compared to our rivals. We went through the tyres more than Valtteri and Lewis. Especially at the end of the stints they were dropping off a bit more, whereas our rivals kept the pace throughout. Towards the end my only target was to stay ahead of Lewis. I knew that down the straights he struggled to overtake, so I just tried to have clean exits in the places where it mattered.”
Lewis Hamilton – 3rd (Mercedes):
“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. It’s a well-deserved achievement – thank you to everyone in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart for all the hard work and dedication. Valtteri did a great job today and deserved the win, congratulations to him. I did everything I could today; I think we probably had the chance at a 1-2 today, so we’ll take a look at what we could have done better in the debrief. I think we can expect the next races to be very challenging; Ferrari still have a straight-line speed advantage which makes it very hard to qualify ahead of them, so we have to outrace them, but I think that makes it really exciting for the spectators. We will celebrate this monumental achievement today; but tomorrow we’ll start pushing again – we still have races to win.”
Alexander Albon – 4th (Red Bull):
“Fourth is my F1 career best finish and this weekend has definitely felt like my best with the Team. Immediately from FP1 I felt comfortable with the car and the balance, which is important for a track like Suzuka where you need a lot of confidence, especially on your first visit! I wanted more in the race and felt like I could have done better at the start but I had too much wheel spin off the line and lost a couple of places to the McLarens. I managed to get back past them but by then I had already lost a lot of time to the lead pack. The move on Lando for P5 was on, he gave me space and left the door open but it was a bit tight! We then managed to get past Carlos with some good strategy by undercutting him, but from then onwards we were in no man’s land in P4. It was just about managing the tyres to the end but with Max’s DNF it was good to score some points for the Team and fourth was the best we could do. I’m still finding my feet but overall I’m happy with my pace and progress and we took a step forward this weekend. Coming into the weekend we probably wanted more, especially for Honda, and we were close but we just didn’t quite have the pace. Now we’ll do our homework and hopefully come back stronger in Mexico.”
Mattia Binotto – Team Principal (Ferrari):
“Congratulations from all of us to our rivals and friends for nailing another well-deserved Constructors’ Championship today. Over the course of the season, they simply did the best job and that’s exactly what you need in this business. For our part, I’d like to highlight a positive aspect, namely the performance of our car, which was good enough to secure the front row in qualifying this morning – an exceptional result here at Suzuka. As for the race itself, we are disappointed that we did not reap the rewards of what we had sown. A shame. The start compromised the rest of the race, although it has to be said that our rival’s pace was very strong and we suffered more than them with tyre degradation. We made mistakes and now we just have to look to ourselves to improve.”
Carlos Sainz – 5th (McLaren):
“A very good day in general. Qualifying was extremely strong after leading the midfield on Friday. We secured P7 and P8 clearly ahead of our main competitors. Later, in the race, I had a good start on the inside line and fought again wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton. From there I controlled my pace and went for a long first stint. The second stint was especially strong, with very good pace and keeping Leclerc behind to secure another P5. I’m very happy with both results today, quali and the race, and the only downside is that Lando couldn’t finish in the points due to an unlucky situation. The team clearly deserved another double-points finish here in Japan. Congratulations!”
Smooth operation here at Suzuka! Managed to pass a Red Bull at the start and then hold a Ferrari. That felt good! I think P5 is the best result we could get. Congrats team. Solid weekend!#carlo55ainz #JapaneseGP@McLarenF1 @EG00 pic.twitter.com/NRL253QygE
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) October 13, 2019
Christian Horner – Team Principal (Red Bull):
“After a great start Max was unfortunately involved in contact at Turn 2 with Leclerc which resulted in him retiring from the race. It looked like Max gave Charles plenty of room but we will let the stewards deal with that. Alex had a less than perfect getaway, dropping behind the McLarens but he fought back well, making the two stop strategy work. He passed Norris in a firm but fair move on Lap 4 and closed quickly on Sainz. The remainder of the race was quite lonely but Alex drove faultlessly to bring the car home in P4, his best Formula One result to date. Leaving Suzuka with a fourth place and a DNF is slightly disappointing at Honda’s home race after such a fantastic turnout from a very enthusiastic crowd. Our congratulations go to Mercedes on winning their sixth Constructors’ Championship here today.”
Daniel Ricciardo – 6th (Renault):*
“The team deserved this result today. We’ve been on a bit of a frustrating run recently without scoring, so to take seventh today is excellent. We had an issue in qualifying with the rear of the car that the boys fixed, which explained why we were quite far down. We had good pace in the race and were coming through quite nicely. Starting on the Medium tyre worked to our advantage and we came through the pack with some enjoyable battles. It was nice to execute a good strategy, we pulled through and, in the end, it was a deserved and quite comfortable seventh place.”
*Ricciardo was initially classified 7th but was promoted to 6th due to Leclerc’s penalties
Charles Leclerc – 7th (Ferrari):*
“It was a tough race. I made a mistake at the start and made contact with Max (Verstappen) in turn 1, which unfortunately compromised both our races and my front wing was damaged. I tried to make the best of it going forward. After the first stop, when my front wing was changed, I gave it my all. I tried to make up as many positions as possible. Although it was quite fun to overtake other cars and fight my way up the field, P6 is not our target or a result we are satisfied with. It was a different weekend overall, and I look forward to the opportunity of bringing home better results once again at the upcoming races.”
*Leclerc crossed the line 6th but received 15 seconds in time penalties.
My mistake in Turn 1. It ruined Max's race and put ourself in a bad position for the remaining of the race.
Mexico next 🇲🇽
📸: @F1Gregory pic.twitter.com/BfncHTkk0Y
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) October 13, 2019
Max Verstappen – DNF (Red Bull):
“I had a really good start and I think I was up to third place which was positive. I stayed on the outside at Turn 2 but Charles drove into the side of my car. I guess Charles was trying to recover places after the start but it’s a long race so there was no need to risk so much so early. We both lost out but he managed to carry on once he replaced his front wing. I re-joined at the back of the field but my car was severely damaged and we had to retire on Lap 15. From my side I don’t think I could have done anything different, so now it will be investigated by the stewards. It’s very frustrating as I think we had a good chance of being on the podium again especially after such a good start, which would have been amazing for all the Honda fans supporting us. We are definitely improving and the gap is closing but there is still more work to do before Mexico.”
Cyril Abiteboul – Team Principal (Renault):
“It has certainly been a bizarre weekend, with no running on Saturday, requiring everything to be perfect from the get-go on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, we experienced the opposite, with both cars having different issues in qualifying. Despite our low starting positions, we did not surrender and kept focused. The crew did an amazing job in the limited time before the race to turn around the cars. Both drivers had clean starts for the first time in a while and after the opening laps it was non-stop action, with an amazing number of stylish overtaking manoeuvres from Daniel and Nico. Nico also accepted to play the team game, which played out nicely for the team, so big thanks to him. We’re leaving Suzuka with both cars in the points, a nice reward for the various issues we’ve had over the last races despite a car that had the capacity to score at every race.”
Pierre Gasly – 8th (Toro Rosso):
“I’m very happy with today! It started really well this morning as I made it to Q3 and qualified ninth. We didn’t really expect to make it there after such short preparation, since I missed both FP1 and FP3. I spent most of the race running in P7 and P8, it was really intense as Renault and Racing Point were pushing very hard. We had a suspension issue in the middle of the race which made it quite tough, so I just gave it everything I had inside of the car to keep the position. There were some intense battles and I really wanted to make it to the end for the team, Honda, and for the Japanese fans who came out to support us. I’m really pleased to score points for the team, especially in Japan…it feels really special! We can be pleased with the day and we can’t wait for the remaining races.”
Sergio Perez – 9th (Racing Point):
“Our pace in the race was better than qualifying and I was more confident with the car. I made a good start and the team did a fantastic job with the strategy. We pitted a second time for Soft tyres late in the race and I managed to get back into the points. There was confusion at the end because the chequered flag came out a lap early, so when I was taken out by Gasly the race had already finished. With the fresh tyres I was much faster than him. I was ahead of him and left enough room so there was no need for the contact. It’s disappointing to finish the race like that – with a damaged car – but at least we got some points for the team.”
*Perez did not see the chequered flag after an incident with Gasly but was classified 9th due to distance completed
Nico Hulkenberg – 10th (Renault):
“I’m very happy for the team today, with both Daniel and I inside the points. We fought all the way, pushed really hard and everything seemed to come together. It was an amazing recovery from this morning where our qualifying wasn’t so good. Personally, I made a great start off the line, passed a few cars at turn one and then pushed on with good track position. From there, it was a fight. The whole second stint we were in traffic and by the end, it was getting hot and tasty out there with everyone’s tyres going off. It was really good fun and I’m pleased with today.”
Andreas Seidl – Team Principal (McLaren):
“Great execution today from the entire team, and 10 more points in the bag, extending our lead over the teams with whom we are fighting in the Constructors’ Championship. It was a sensational drive from Carlos to P5 – but we have mixed feelings because we might’ve had Lando up there as well. We obviously strongly disagree with competitors leaving cars on track with entire front wing endplates hanging off and putting everyone else at risk. After Leclerc’s endplate finally exploded, Lando unfortunately caught some of the debris in his right front brake duct. This meant he had to box early, and his race was pretty much done. Even then, he gave it everything and put in a great performance. Overall, it’s the positives we take away from Suzuka. The team here at the track, together with the support from home, put in a lot of hard work to get the best out of an unusual weekend – and a very long Sunday! The car was strong here and we’re really looking forward to the final four races.”
Always nice to have an extra pair of hands to help with pack-up. 📦 😅@LandoNorris @Carlossainz55 pic.twitter.com/Xx5EGim7fU
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 13, 2019
Lance Stroll – 11th (Racing Point):
“We had a good first stint running solidly in the top ten, but the main issue today was struggling with the tyres in the final laps. I spent most of the race just behind Gasly, which wasn’t good for my front tyres, but it was really during the last ten laps that we lacked the grip to hold on to eighth place. We had committed to the one-stop, but maybe the two-stop strategy was the way to go because it gives you a big advantage at the end of the race. We saw that with Checo. We had good track position at the beginning of the race so we tried to hang on for the points. It didn’t go our way today and we will analyse things to understand where we can improve for the next time.”
Daniil Kvyat – 12th (Toro Rosso):
“This morning everything was OK until the last lap of my Qualifying. I don’t know why I was so slow on the last lap, the car felt a bit different to Friday – the conditions were quite different – but we all had to deal with it in the same way. Starting the race from P14 was not ideal and I knew it was going to be tricky. I feel like the race itself was strong, and even if we lost a couple of places at the start, from then on it was a solid recovery. It’s a shame not to score points because the pace was really good. We will need to work in order to improve our Qualifying.”
Lando Norris – 13th (McLaren):
“A frustrating day. I made a really good start and managed to get to the outside of a few drivers at Turn One. Then there was contact ahead of me, debris and guys spinning. I had to slow down, unfortunately, and gave up a position or two but was still P6 I think. In the chaos, I collected some debris in the brakes, which meant I had to box really early on and then the rest was pretty straightforward. I did what I could but I always struggled towards the end with the tyres and just couldn’t make enough progress to come back through. Some positives, some negatives – but good points for the team from Carlos.”
All of the junk in my brakes from the cars in front finished me off pretty early, so it didn’t end how we wanted, but it all started pretty well 👊🏼 #JapaneseGP @McLarenF1 pic.twitter.com/s2AqGdazZg
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) October 13, 2019
Kimi Raikkonen – 14th (Alfa Romeo):
“It’s a disappointing end to our weekend. We always do all we can to bring home a good result and in the end the car was pretty good on the last set of tyres. We were running three, four seconds faster than earlier in the race, but unfortunately by then we had lost a lot of time and our afternoon was compromised. We couldn’t find a good balance in the first two stints on medium and hard tyres, they just wouldn’t work and I had no front end. We have to look at the data to understand what happened and figure out what to fix, so that we can consistently have the performance we had in the final part of the race.”
Romain Grosjean – 15th (Haas):
“Well, it wasn’t as good as we wanted. The start was terrible, I don’t know why. I was behind Kevin (Magnussen) by turn one, so that shows how bad it was. From there it was very difficult to recover. We tried to push hard, we fitted the hard tire to do a onestop race. Honestly, I had two really good overtakes on Russell and Giovinazzi around the outside of turn one and two – both times. That was the highlight of my race. After that it was just managing tires. We just didn’t have the pace in the race, which was a bit of a shame. We’ll keep working and see if the next race will be good for us.”
Frederic Vasseur – Team Principal (Alfa Romeo):
“We got into the race hoping to be in the top ten but in the end we weren’t able to fight for the points after the opening laps. We showed a much better pace in the closing stages, on the soft tyres, so we will have to review what happened and analyse the data to ensure we can deliver the same level of performance throughout the race. In such a tight field, we need to extract the best from our car at all times or the competition will have the upper hand, which is what happened today.”
This weekend the spectacle was both on track and on the grandstands. Thanks Suzuka 🤩#JapaneseGP #Kimi7 pic.twitter.com/NRVOuBWFnP
— Alfa Romeo Racing (@alfaromeoracing) October 13, 2019
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal (Haas):
“This morning qualifying for Romain wasn’t so bad, he got into Q3 which was a little bit the highlight of the day. Kevin crashed on his fast lap, he was doing a very fast lap – the car can do one good lap performance-wise. As soon as we go racing though, we fall out of the tire window and we end up like we did today. It is pretty frustrating but not unexpected, it’s not like we were surprised. Still it’s never nice that it happens. We just need to try to do our best for the rest of the season to get a little bit out of the car, and mainly learn not to do the same mistakes for next year.”
Antonio Giovinazzi – 16th (Alfa Romeo):
“It was a difficult weekend for us. The conditions weren’t ideal with the wind, but in the end it’s the same for everyone so we need to focus on our work. Our pace turned out to be better in qualifying than in the race in comparison with our rivals and we have to understand why. The potential of the car is there but we have to keep working to improve ahead of the final races and do the best possible job in the rest of the season.”
Inutile nascondere che siamo arrivati a Suzuka con altre ambizioni. Ora però serve solo lavorare e non demoralizzarsi in vista della prossima gara!
Grazie a tutti i tifosi che hanno messo la sveglia ma soprattutto ai tifosi giapponesi per il calore di questi giorni👋🇯🇵🙏#AG99🐝 pic.twitter.com/cxVf7ga6KQ
— Antonio Giovinazzi (@Anto_Giovinazzi) October 13, 2019
Kevin Magnussen – 17th (Haas):
“I started last and got up to P12, which I was fairly happy about, but after that it went south. It wasn’t terrible in terms of tires and pace, not like previous races at least. If we’d hooked everything up, and if I’d started where I should have, and made as good a start as I did, then I’d obviously have been in a much better position. We just didn’t have the pace today.”
George Russell – 18th (Williams):
“Qualifying was incredibly tricky to be honest, especially through the Esses. It made it unpredictable, and it was pretty sketchy on my lap, but I gave it everything and I think overall, we overachieved so I was pleased with that. It was an incredibly tricky race for us. We had some brake issues throughout which made it quite difficult. It was definitely one of the tougher races of the season. I have mixed feelings, but I can be satisfied, waking up this morning I felt fresh and I did the job.”
Robert Kubica – 19th (Williams):
“It was not the qualifying session that I had hoped for in Suzuka. I accelerated to open the lap, put the rear wheel off the track and then the wall came very quickly. Unfortunately, it was a high price for a small off, to end my qualifying session. The guys have done another amazing job (to get the car ready), they are a really great group of people. I really appreciate their work, not only today but throughout the season. This is not an easy sport, especially in these conditions. The race was difficult as you would expect and overall, it was a pretty disappointing Sunday.”
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