A poor start for Lewis Hamilton, a championship boost for Nico Rosberg, a tactical error by Ferrari and a controversy involving Max Verstappen. The Japanese Grand Prix had all the main themes of 2016.
The outcome looked like a foregone conclusion from the moment Rosberg left Hamilton behind at the start. And so it proved, with Rosberg taking another straightforward victory while Hamilton salvaged what he could from another disappointing weekend.
It may turn out to have been a decisive moment in the championship fight, but for F1 Fanatic readers it was a fairly average race, earning a rate of just under seven out of ten. Here’s what you thought of round 17 of the 2016 season:
My heart sank when Hamilton got a crap start and essentially gifted an easy win to Rosberg. Really wanted to see a proper fight between them, so it started on a bummer.
But in the end it turned out to be a decent race. Few good bits and pieces of action, some nice fights here and there (which we mostly didn’t see) and a little bit of excitement in Hamilton’s fightback.
I never found the race that exciting and was pretty bored for parts of it.
There was plenty of overtakes during the race but it was one of those times when they seemed mainly due to DRS or because of the different tyres the cars were on at the time, so most of the moves were not surprising or thrilling.
Once Rosberg made a clean getaway I thought that barring car problems it was a certainty he would go on to take the victory, and you could see by the gaps at the end that he did just enough to win and did not push more than was needed.
After the start the race went pretty much as you would have predicted, given the car advantage and the circuit you would have thought that Hamilton would have been able to recover to a podium if things went his way and that is what he did.
The race ends on lap one and the two championship cars can’t race each other – theme of the year. They should rename the championship to World Car Launch Championship. It’s the only thing that mattered in F1 this year along with Hamilton’s reliability. The only other interesting thing is Verstappen driving every champion off track with legal defensive moves
As has been the case on several other occasions this year Verstappen’s defensive moves divided those who thought it was just hard racing from those who believed it was dangerous:
I had no issue with the Verstappen move since he was still ahead of Hamilton when he moved over to block. Same thing with Raikkonen in Belgium. If it was to be when Hamilton were to be at least side by side with the rear of Verstappen’s car, that’s when the stewards are more likely to investigate to my knowledge.
Max took the big risk of covering Hamilton in this way and he reaped the big reward of maintaining second place. If races aren’t to be as dull as some perceive this race to be, this is the sort of risk taking the sport needs to bring back the audience the sport had a decade ago.
Verstappen doesn’t defend, he blocks! There’s no wheel to wheel defending with him as all he does is wait for the trailing driver to move first then block. Where’s the skill in that?
Hamilton’s recovery drive provided excitement for some:
Really enjoyable race. Great battles through the field. Enjoyed the front runners making their way through the slow guys and Hamilton’s fight back and attack against Verstappen. There were so many cars going side by side. A very decent race.
Kavin Kannan (@Lolzerbob)
But not everyone:
I never get excited for those ‘fight back’ types of races. How many cars did Hamilton overtake on track? One?
It usually is all strategy with most other drivers not bothering to defend. Honestly, it seemed like the only one willing to fight for his position today was Verstappen.
Another theme of the 2016 season – and the two which preceded it – has been the lack of serious opposition to Mercedes:
Rosberg’s win was always on, but the fight behind them was really entertaining, also nice to see someone being able to fend off a much faster Mercedes rather than to see a DRS fly-by. There were on-track passes as well as in the pits, it was difficult to predict who would finish where until late on.
However, despite this year producing rather decent races and intriguing fight between Rosberg and Hamilton, I would really like to see someone really challenge them in the long-run, especially since we see them winning almost everything for three years and with the same drivers. No team dominated like that for two years even.
What many did agree on, however, was that while Suzuka may not have produced a great race it remains one of F1’s finest venues:
Maybe I saw more to it than most, but for me that’s easily one of the better races of recent years. Proper racing on a proper track.
Sure the start was dramatic and we saw one or two decent passes (I would have liked to have seen Vettel on Ricciardo at 130R replayed) but other than that we had another DRS fest with little variation in strategy. We saw desperate and dangerous defensive moves from certain drivers (not for the first time in the case of Verstappen) and I just didn’t find it particularly exciting. Hulkenberg’s move around the outside of Bottas was pretty sweet though.
What I did find surprising was that despite Suzuka being one of the ultimate challenges for a driver, we saw so few errors. We had just one spin and a couple of occasions where someone ran too wide but that was really it. This really is a strong field and each driver finished today.
Craig Woollard (@Craig-o)
2016 Rate the Race Results
|2016 Spanish Grand Prix||8.706|
|2016 Austrian Grand Prix||8.097|
|2016 Malaysian Grand Prix||8.013|
|2016 Chinese Grand Prix||7.853|
|2016 Australian Grand Prix||7.757|
|2016 Monaco Grand Prix||7.747|
|2016 Bahrain Grand Prix||7.382|
|2016 Belgian Grand Prix||7.249|
|2016 Singapore Grand Prix||7.112|
|2016 Japanese Grand Prix||6.979|
|2016 Canadian Grand Prix||6.583|
|2016 British Grand Prix||6.478|
|2016 German Grand Prix||5.814|
|2016 Russian Grand Prix||5.396|
|2016 Hungarian Grand Prix||5.052|
|2016 Italian Grand Prix||4.944|
|2016 European Grand Prix||4.728|
Rate the Race
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2016 Japanese Grand Prix
- FIA bans the ‘Verstappen block’
- Wolff blames Verstappen protest on “miscommunication”
- 2016 Japanese Grand Prix team radio transcript
- Second Driver of the Weekend win for Rosberg
- Themes of 2016 continue in average Suzuka race