Twenty-one Japanese Grand Prix facts


1) Lewis Hamilton has now equalled Ayrton Senna’s record of 41 Grand Prix victories. Hamilton, though, has started one more race than Senna did – 162 vs 161.

2) Hamilton’s overtake on Rosberg in the opening stages “wasn’t dirty exactly, but pretty ruthless”.

3) It was possible because Rosberg’s engine was too hot (partly because of the lack of dry practice running and therefore data), affecting his acceleration, and he didn’t chop across Hamilton. When both were karting their team principal Dino Cheisa said the difference between the two was “propensity for risk,” that “Lewis will stake everything on winning and Nico is more controlled”.

4) The two teams which seemed to get the least TV coverage – Ferrari and Mercedes – are both refusing to provide Red Bull with power units next year.

5) Tyre pressures have been increased by 2psi at the front and 1.5psi at the rear. Maximum camber angles have also been reduced so the tyres were visibly crowned in the middle. The trick was to keep the tread from overheating. This played into Mercedes’ hands.

6) The top three grid places – Rosberg, Hamilton and Bottas – were the same in 2014.

7) Even with its big Singapore update, Ferrari was well behind Mercedes with most of the deficit coming from the lack of sharp direction change. In the first sector it was 1.3 per cent off, the second 0.67 per cent and the third 1 per cent.

8) Carlos Sainz was fastest of everyone in the first wet practice despite never having visited the track before.

9) McLaren had to advise its drivers what the best engine mode to use was immediately before their flying laps in qualifying because the Honda units couldn’t harvest enough braking energy. The team forgot to tell Button so he guessed.

10) Honda’s compressor is too small to feed the ersH with enough heat to work with and cannot run fast enough to compensate in shaft speed what it lacks in size in terms of heat generation. Part way down the straight the cars would suddenly be 160-200bhp down, a bigger difference than between the turbos and the DFVs in the 1980s.

11) Lewis Hamilton hailed Pirelli’s tyres as “pretty amazing”. When asked whether he agreed, Vettel said “no comment”.

12) Because the tyres lasted longer than teams were expecting there were undercuts all the way through the field. Cars could do this without worrying about running out of rubber later in the race.

13) The Ferrari pitstops were consistently the fastest, a matter which helped Räikkönen jump Bottas during the second stops.

14) Vettel believes that if he had pitted a lap earlier Rosberg wouldn’t have been close enough to jump him over the second stops, even with his blistering out lap.

15) After flat-spotting it during the second stint it was discovered that Hamilton’s tyre was down to the canvas when he finally made his second stop.

16) The two Mercedes cars turned their engines down once they were running 1-2. Ferrari did the same as Arrivabene said it would have been “insanity” to think Vettel could challenge them. Did he know how marginal they were on engine temperatures, though?

17) Hamilton’s fastest lap, immediately after his second stop, was a full second faster than Rosberg’s. This was the Brit “indulging himself” and an indication of how the Pirellis dictate a pace some way off the limits of the drivers and cars.

18) Lotus’s flattering speed in the fastest lap list was down to a long middle stint, which saw them on fresh tyres with a lower fuel load than anyone else. The reality is that they are a second slower than the Ferrari.

19) Rossi pressured Stevens all the way through the race, which lead to the latter speeding in the pitlane. His spin at 130R was due to losing front downforce after Bottas lapped him.

20) Alonso likened his McLaren-Honda to a GP2 car over the team radio. Ron Dennis said he was unimpressed with the Spaniard’s negative comments.

21) Rosberg and Hamilton agreed that it was the best the Mercedes has ever been. Despite Hamilton struggling at Suzuka for years he “was able to work my lines and improve. It was just beautiful.”

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