Motorsport

Bottas wins; Mercedes clinches record double

Happy bunch: Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton join the Mercedes crew in celebrating a landmark moment.

Happy bunch: Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton join the Mercedes crew in celebrating a landmark moment.   | Photo Credit: Toru Hanai

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Wolff dedicates achievement to Niki Lauda

Valtteri Bottas jumped from third to first with an electric start to win the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

With only Bottas now able to overtake Hamilton in the standings, Mercedes clinched an unprecedented sixth successive drivers'-constructors' world championship double.

“I'm happy, very happy,” said flying Finn Bottas, who ended a six-month wait for his third victory of 2019 after winning the season-opener in Australia and the Azerbaijan GP in April. “I'm really proud to be part of the team. A sixth title is really impressive.”

“Firstly congratulations to the team,” said Hamilton, who now leads the drivers' standings by 64 points from Bottas. “That's the main point. I just wanted to bring home good points for the team.”

Emotional Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff dedicated his team's achievement to Formula One legend Niki Lauda, who died earlier this year. “We want to dedicate this to Niki because he's just been such an important part from the beginning of the journey,” said Wolff.

Meanwhile, FIA is set to launch an investigation after the chequered flag was shown a lap early. The blunder means that under Formula One rules the finishing positions and points will be calculated at the end of lap 52, and not the full race distance of 53 laps.

Super Sunday

Ferrari had enjoyed a front row lock-out in the morning qualifying session caused by Typhoon Hagibis but that was as good as ‘Super Sunday’ got as its race unravelled right from the start.

Vettel twitched before the lights went out and his hesitation enabled the fast-starting Bottas to leapfrog from third into the lead. “It was my mistake,” admitted Vettel who escaped a penalty for his false start.

Max Verstappen enjoyed a bullet launch off the grid from fifth in the Red Bull and was overtaking the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc on the outside of turn two when the Monegasque drove into the Dutchman, causing him to spin. Leclerc's front wing was damaged but he soldiered on. He was subsequently summoned to face the stewards and penalised five seconds for causing the collision and given a further 10-second penalty for continuing to drive his car in an unsafe condition. That meant he was relegated from sixth to seventh.

Hamilton can still clinch the drivers' championship at the next race in Mexico in a fortnight's time as he holds a 64-point lead over Bottas.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 6:28:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/bottas-wins-mercedes-clinches-record-double/article29674655.ece

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