Saturday, October 16, 2021

Rossi lands first victory after disqualification as Vettel second

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• Driver jumps from second to first after being overtaken • Alexander Rossi takes back the lead from Sebastian Vettel

Rossi lands first victory after disqualification

Alexander Rossi took pole position in qualifying for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka with the German Sebastian Vettel second as Lewis Hamilton took his 100th win in Formula One.

Hamilton, who has won the past five races at Suzuka, beat Vettel and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in a thrilling top-10 shootout after Hamilton’s Mercedes was relegated in the early seconds of Q3.

“Congratulations to a great team,” Hamilton said in a post-qualifying broadcast. “It’s just not one of my best qualifying sessions this year but we’ve got another championship to fight.”

Vettel said the Ferrari had looked “really good on paper” and had the pace to hold off Hamilton, but said it had been hard to fight the Mercedes for the top two spots.

Rossi joined Honda’s Leclerc in the top three and fought back to retake the lead when he was pushed wide by Vettel’s Ferrari.

Raikkonen then ran wide to bring out the red flag and secure the pole for Raikkonen with their Toyota team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking third spot.

Hamilton, who is seeking his ninth win of the season and 50th in F1, leads the overall standings with 90 points ahead of Vettel, who has 84. Bottas is third with 71.

Hamilton responded well to the setback, moving up from fourth to take a crucial advantage going into the race after four-time champion Vettel – who had been set to start from pole position – ran wide to trigger the red flag.

It was a nervy two minutes for Hamilton who drove carefully under a lights to flag fight for pole position with his Mercedes rival. Vettel made a fast start into second, blasting down the straight and entering the hairpin straight as he was approached by Hamilton, who moved across from third to take the lead.

There were no drivers over 150mph before the red flag and Vettel was able to dash back down the inside to retake second but struggled with Mercedes’ entry back onto the track.

Vettel, who won in Russia in July but was criticised for going off the track to overtake Hamilton in Azerbaijan four weeks ago, ended up sixth ahead of Raikkonen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The speed differential between the two Mercedes was clear to see, with Hamilton pulling ahead at the hairpin and Rossman pulling alongside Vettel’s car and onto his outside. Vettel nudged his Ferrari into a dip on the straight and raised a flag to stop the session.

Hamilton goes to the first corner 17 seconds faster than Raikkonen in the second session, with Mercedes pushed all the way by Ferraris who sprinted for fourth place with Pierre Gasly in fifth place ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

In the final session, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took his 12th podium in 17 races.

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