Valtteri Bottas took victory in a fascinating 2019 Formula One Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday as Mercedes wrapped up the constructors' championship for a sixth year running.
Ferrari claimed a one-two on the grid in Sunday's qualifying session—postponed from Saturday because of to Typhoon Hagibis—but Bottas jumped both pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc at the start before the latter collided with Red Bull's Max Verstappen at Turn 2.
An action-packed start finished with Bottas first, Vettel second and Lewis Hamilton third, and after plenty of chopping and changing throughout the race, that is how things finished.
Despite persisting with major damage to his car after being hit by Leclerc, a justly angry Verstappen had to retire after 15 laps:
Mercedes secured their constructors' title despite failing to get a one-two finish thanks to Hamilton's bonus point for the fastest lap of the race.
They are also guaranteed the drivers' championship this season because Vettel, Leclerc and Verstappen are now all out the running:
Here is the top 10 from the Suzuka Circuit:
Leclerc managed to fight back to sixth after he fell to the rear of the pack following his collision with Verstappen.
He had to pit early for a new front wing, but that was just one aspect of Ferrari's disastrous start. Vettel got away terribly after having to stop himself following a jump-start, and Bottas cruised past him to take first place.
With Hamilton also up to third, Mercedes had taken the initiative, and they never let it go despite sending out numerous mixed messages on strategy.
Initial indications seemed to suggest Bottas, who pitted first, was on a two-stop strategy, while Hamilton was on a one-stop:
However, when the world champion got medium tyres on his first stop, it was made clear he would have to pit again, which the Englishman was not happy about:
With the end in sight, Hamilton had the lead, and Bottas had to check with his engineer that his team-mate would definitely stop again:
Ten laps from the end, Hamilton went back into the pits, but it is possible he could have got the race victory had he stayed out:
Hamilton had to settle for third after failing to get past Vettel in the closing laps despite being all over the back of his Ferrari. For Bottas, it was his first victory since Baku, the fourth race of the season.
With four races remaining in 2019, the Finn is 64 points behind Hamilton, who remains on course for a third consecutive world title.