It was a clean performance from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix but for one little hiccup midway in the race.
Hamilton started off well leading Valtteri Bottas as it was mayhem behind with the coming together of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. He didn’t know any of it until he watched replays post race.
The British driver led the way comfortably in the front without any major dramas until the later stages of the race where he reported of some issues but wasn’t anything huge to disrupt his lead as he took the win to extend his points advantage to 67 now.
When asked about the issue, he said: “The start is always an anxious moment [for a driver], you never know how it will go with the start. I was really happy with that and then there were some driveability issues which we rarely have.
“We have had in the last couple of races – just as you are feeding in the throttle, you get a little disturbance but it cleared up later on with some changes and then [it was] just managing the tyres which wasn’t an issue.
“[Although] finding the balance was tough because Friday practice is where we do our long run. The wind changed to 180 degrees and the temperature went up over 10 degrees I believe [from Friday to Sunday].
“The tyre management is all different [with the changing weather] plus the braking differences shifts. For example, the last corner, there was a tail wind, so you have to brake differently.
“The car had grip there and [also in] Turn 1 but [there was] more through the Esses – all these different things, so just about adjusting to those and being dynamic. [But then] that’s the best I do, so there was no problem.”
Mercedes’ chief strategist James Vowles added: “We are pushing the boundaries on all performance systems including the Power Unit in order to win races. You have to, that’s Formula One and Ferrari are doing the same.
“The result of that is every now and again you push certain elements of it over the limit. The problems we experienced in Suzuka weren’t anything to do with the problems we experienced in Sochi, those were fixed.
“But, equally they are problems that we understand and are confident that will be resolved for Austin. They didn’t cost him a significant amount of performance. They are a worry, it’s a sound or a hesitation but ultimately there was very little lap time in it. We understand entirely what they were and they are all resolved.”