Hamilton ties with Senna with 41 wins
Lewis Hamilton is now tied with his childhood hero, Ayrton Senna, in fourth place on the all-time list, after his victory at the Japanese GP on Sunday. The honour would have come sooner, except for the hiccup at the Singapore GP just a week ago, when power failure forced the Mercedes driver to retire and allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to stand at the top of the podium instead.
Hamilton said, “For me to come here to a race where I used to love watching Ayrton drive, and to match his wins, I can’t really describe it; it doesn’t really feel real at the moment.”
Starting from second on the grid, Hamilton quickly overtook his teammate, Nico Rosberg, and did not relinquish the lead for one second. He cruised to his eighth victory of the season and the 41st of his career. The Briton is now just one win away from Vettel on the all-time list.
From pole position, Rosberg dropped to fourth early in the race but, with a strategic pit stop, managed to climb back to second on Lap 30 by slipping past Vettel, and eventually giving Mercedes its eighth 1-2 finish of the season.
Ferrari is proving itself as the second strongest team this year. Vettel rounded out the podium in third, while his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, finished fourth.
Jules Bianchi, who passed away in July, had crashed at the Suzuka Circuit last year, during a storm that was eerily similar to last Thursday’s weather conditions, when the teams arrived. Banners and flowers covered the grandstands and crash site as tribute to Bianchi. Luckily, as the weekend approached, the dark clouds cleared and the race took off under sunny skies.
After Sunday, Hamilton continues to lead with 277 points, followed by Rosberg with 229 points. With, five more races to go, Raikkonen is now out of contention for the championship title, but Vettel, who has 218 points, still has a chance to claim the title back from Hamilton.
image: Getty via nytimes.com