Hamilton wins as Alonso is forced to retire

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Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix at the Fuji Speedway claiming his fourth Formula 1 career victory and the eighth win for the team in 15 races this year. After 67 laps in torrential rain, 305.721 km and a total race time of 2:00:34.579 hrs, Lewis won 8.6 seconds ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Räikkönen.

Fernando Alonso retired on lap 42 from fourth place after he had aquaplaned off the track. Due to the first 19 laps of the race taking place behind the Mercedes-Benz Safety Car, both Lewis and Fernando made only one pit stop each. Fernando came in on lap 27 (11.9 seconds) followed by Lewis one lap later (11.6 seconds). After 15 out of 17 races, Lewis extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship and now has 107 points followed by Fernando in second position with 95 points; Räikkönen is third on 90 points with 20 points available in the remaining two races.

Lewis Hamilton “A very eventful race and I am so happy to have won here at Fuji. There were moments when I thought it would have been better to stop the race; however, when the rain faded a little, conditions improved a bit. I didn’t feel too much pressure and think I would have been able to push a bit harder if necessary. I was lucky that nothing serious happened to my car when Robert Kubica hit me. I didn’t see him come so the impact caught me by surprise, and I spun. Afterwards I stayed concentrated and focused on keeping the car on the track. I want to say thank you to everybody in the team who have done a great job throughout the weekend. This was an important victory for the championship, but I do not want to think too much about it and will focus hard on the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai next weekend.”

Fernando Alonso “A difficult race in difficult conditions. After my pit stop I came out into traffic and was fighting for positions in the field. It was very difficult to see anything because of the spray especially when you were coming down the straight. As a result I did not see Vettel in my mirrors and was surprised when he hit me. I think the car was damaged quite a bit by that, but I was able to continue. However when I was braking for Turn Five I just aquaplaned and spun. Unfortunately the walls at that corner are very close to the track, so I hit the barrier heavily, and that was it. Of course, it is a difficult situation for me now in the championship; however, I will keep fighting until the end – as last year’s Championship battle showed anything can happen.”

Ron Dennis “The weather conditions here at Fuji created their own challenges for all the teams throughout the weekend but by staying focused we made sure that both Lewis and Fernando had a chance for victory today. However, unfortunately for Fernando he aquaplaned off the circuit after driving a controlled race in very tricky conditions – particularly after his car was damaged due to a collision with Kubica. Lewis’s performance was masterful, and he was in control throughout. The team is now going to focus on the last two races where both Lewis and Fernando have a chance of claiming the title. We will make sure that they both have the opportunity to do so and look forward to an exciting end to the Championship.”

Norbert Haug “An extremely difficult race in challenging conditions. Lewis showed a first class performance and did not put a foot wrong. He had a handicap and lacked downforce after his car had been hit by Robert Kubica and had been damaged at the rear. Fernando was in a difficult situation fighting in the field after his pit stop, he had aquaplaning, spun and hit the wall – that is a shame but this can happen in conditions like these, and it was not Fernando’s fault. The entire team worked really hard throughout the weekend achieving double pole, race win and fastest lap. We now look forward to the remaining races in China and Brazil and stay focused to maintain our 1-2 lead until after the final of the season.”