The Japanese Grand Prix lived up to its action-packed reputation, with plenty of overtaking and a wide variety of tyre strategies at work. A two-stop soft-hard-hard strategy proved to be the most popular option, used by all the top three.
Nico Rosberg won the race after making a perfect start from pole and resisting attempts by the Red Bull drivers to ‘undercut’ him by making their first pit stops early. The other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton stayed out slightly longer to gain track position, eventually finishing third after slipping down to eighth following a poor start.
At the final pit stops he got past Vettel, who ran the soft tyres for his final stint. Hamilton used the extra durability of the hard tyres to challenge Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for second in the closing stages, setting up an unpredictable finale.
Not everybody followed the two-stop strategy though: Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa stopped only once and both finished in the points. Both Renaults and Saubers also stopped only once.
All three tyre compounds were seen at the start of the race, with the top 10 all starting on softs, while the one-stoppers began on either the medium or the hard tyre. Force India was the only team to use all three compounds during the race.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “There was plenty of overtaking and tactics at work in Suzuka, with the three compounds we made available providing a wide variety of options when it came to how to run the strategy. The dry weather and absence of safety cars meant that we had two stops for most of the field, but there were some other options that worked well too, including a one-stopper at one of the most demanding circuits of the year in terms of tyre usage. Congratulations to Mercedes for another constructors’ title.”