Hamilton now has 277 points to Rosberg’s 229, with Vettel dropping back on 218.
Hamilton claimed his eighth win of the season. Rosberg resisted but Hamilton had the inside line and muscled his way past through the second corner, forcing his team-mate wide, who lost momentum and fell to fourth behind Vettel and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton now leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship by 48 points. When you go through the corners here it is flowing, it’s like sailing. “But it’s one that I’ve loved driving at…so you really want to come here and dominate at this track”.
Yesterday’s win was the 41st of Hamilton’s career, equalling his boyhood hero Ayrton Senna’s tally of victories, and his eighth of the season.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “I’m not a teary guy, but I’m full of joy and happiness today”.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff explained: “The initial getaway was good for both cars”.
Hamilton led every lap in Suzuka and it is now not beyond the realms of possibility that he could clinch his third world championship with races to spare.
Rosberg took the chequered flag 18.9 seconds behind Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the victor in Singapore, finishing third in an exact repeat of last year’s top three at Suzuka. Much of the talk heading into this week’s race was around whether Mercedes could bounce back from their off-key display in Singapore. Even though Vettel’s stop was four tenths of a second faster than Rosberg’s, the Mercedes driver’s lap on fresh rubber was enough to get him just ahead of Vettel, and that’s how it stayed.
“The outside line into turn one is best and Nico had that but fortunately I was on the inside and I had to give it a few power and make it stick”. That was the end of it there.
“I know what people are saying – things like I am too soft”, admitted Rosberg.
“It’s going the wrong way, definitely. I had to win today but it did not work out”.
There was disappointment and dismay for McLaren at engine partner Honda’s home track, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso making his feelings painfully clear for the Japanese manufacturer on the way to 11th place. Then the team informed me that he is fine so we were all very happy to hear that.
(Williams) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India).
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo qualified seventh quickest with Frenchman Romain Grosjean alongside him on the fourth row for the troubled Lotus team, whose Formula One future has been plunged into doubt over a cash-flow crisis.
Max Verstappen was ninth passing Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz with 8 laps or so to go.