AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton (front L) of Britain leads the pack at the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TORU YAMANAKA via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP race down to the first corner during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
Japan F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Japan F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, back, and teammate Rico Rosberg of Germany lead the pack into turn one on race during the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari, Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drive in to the first corner during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives into the first corner with damage to his car during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives into the first corner with damage to his car during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia drives his damaged car on the first lap of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil drives his damaged car on the first lap of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Williams driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland (front) drives his car past Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Force India drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Rose via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany leads Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Rose via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Rose via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela and Lotus locks up during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg of Germany leads Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland uring the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany drives his car during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda driwves during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives ahead of Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Fernando Alonso of Spain and McLaren Honda drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Rose via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil (L) leads Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr of Spain during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives ahead of Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Course marshalls wearing masks welcome the marshall car prior to the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Marussia driver Will Stevens of Britain (R) leads Marussia driver Alexander Rossi of the US during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia (L) drives his car beside Marussia driver Will Stevens of Britain during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1
  • Force India driver Sergio Perez of Mexico (L) leads Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr of Spain during the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
Japan F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Japan F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain crosses the finish line to win the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany was second and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany third. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates in Parc Ferme after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • F1 Grand Prix of Japan
  • SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 27: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP and Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Rose via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1-PODIUM
  • AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1-PODIUM
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (2nd R) celebrates his victory on the podium next to second-placed Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (L) and third-placed Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel (R) after the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on September 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI via Getty Images
Just one week on from the issues in Singapore Mercedes-AMG Petronas appeared to have solved its clamp problems and everything else. Daniil Kvyat at Infiniti Red Bull Racing took the two Free Practice scalps on Friday, but when it came time for qualifying the front of the grid looked really familiar: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg took his second pole position of the season, Lewis Hamilton next to him in second.

Kvyat had a hand in that, too, the Russian getting into a big accident in Q3 when he put two wheels on the grass heading into the hairpin and veered into the tire wall so hard that he flipped. That ended qualifying before a number of drivers had a chance to improve their times, Hamilton among them. That's how Valtteri Bottas got in third for Willliams ahead of Sebastian Vettel fourth for Ferrari. Felipe Massa had the second Williams in fifth, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen in the second Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo lined up sixth for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, a team we're going to have to enjoy watching for the rest of the season since it might not exist come 2016. Romain Grosjean gave Lotus some good news by getting into eighth, the team so strapped for cash that it couldn't get into its hospitality area, so it held press conferences outside and ate at Bernie Ecclestone's Paddock Club. Sergio Perez took ninth for Sahara Force India, and Kvyat slotted into tenth after not setting a time. The Russsian's race would begin from the pit lane once his mechanics rebuilt his car.

The start of the 2015 Japanese F1 Grand Prix.

It wouldn't be a Formula One start lately without someone at the front having clutch problems. This time it was pole man Rosberg, whose power unit got too hot and put him a few horsepower down on Hamilton through Turns 1 and 2. That's half of how Hamilton took the lead from the lights going out, and the Brit kept it throughout the race. Rosberg, however, said his race was lost when Hamilton pushed him wide through Turn 2, a move Hamilton defended. Rosberg finished almost 19 seconds behind his teammate, a gap that probably isn't fully explained by that opening incident.

Hamilton's race was so uneventful that we almost never saw him on camera – that is, we saw him so much less than we usually see him when he's out in front and unpressured that Nikki Lauda said he'd ask Ecclestone why the cameras avoided him. The conspiracy theory holds that FOM was punishing Mercedes for not supplying Red Bull with engines next year.

After dropping to fourth at the start behind Bottas and Vettel, Rosberg recovered to take second thanks to a couple of quick pit stops that gave him the undercut on each driver. By Lap 33 of the 57-lap race Rosberg had claimed his runner-up position, and although Vettel kept on him for the remainder, Rosberg didn't flinch.

Vettel and Räikkönen, who finished third and fourth, also got ahead of Bottas, who finished fifth, thanks to the undercut when the Williams had a tire issue in the pits. We saw all of them more than we saw Hamilton, but there races weren't that much more exciting.

Nico Hulkenberg during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix.

Nico Hülkenberg took an excellent sixth place for Force India after starting 14th on the grid – that's 11th on pace and then a three-spot drop to serve the penalty from his Singapore incident with Felipe Massa. Except for a pass on a Sauber early in the race, it all came from solid driving and quick laps that kept putting him ahead during rounds of pit stops.

The same was true for Lotus teammates Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the latter who qualified 13th on the grid but got elevated to 12th ahead of Hülkenberg. They finished in seventh and eighth, the only exciting on-camera moment from either of them coming when Grosjean had to take to the grass at the Chicane after going in too hot. The team will welcome the result, though, and so should new owners Renault – they're getting a good outfit that just needs some love. And lots of money.

Toro Rosso teammates Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten and made for most of the day's excitement. Sainz qualified 12th, Verstappen in 15th. The Dutchman spent a fair few laps of his race caught behind drivers like Kvyat and Fernando Alonso, but still got some nice on-track passes on the underpowered and highly frustrated Alonso into Turn 1, and on his own teammate at the Chicane later in the race. One of Sainz's most memorable involved passing Alonso down the front straight, the other involved the bollard at pit entry, which he hit when coming in for his second stop on Lap 28. After an unscheduled change of his front wing, he did well to finish in the points.

In the battle back at Manor Marussia, American driver Alexander Rossi qualified behind his teammate Will Stevens, but finished a lap ahead of him by the finish.

The podium at the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix.

The victory gives Hamilton a bit more room with five races remaining, 277 points for him compared to 229 for Rosberg and 217 for Vettel. Behind that, Ferrari will be happy to see that Räikkönen has got himself into fourth place ahead of Williams' Bottas.

On the manufacturer's side, the eighth Mercedes one-two of the season puts that team at 506 points compared to 337 for Ferrari. The next race isn't until October 11 in Russia, we'll see you then.

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